Horizontal communication

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Horizontal communication
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Horizontal communication is a kind of flow of information that is used most frequently to improve coordination in various departments in organizations [1]. Unlike vertical communication, massages in horizontal communication are sent in lateral or diagonal direction, not upwards and downwards. This way of exchanging pieces of information makes it possible for departments to work with each other without a necessity of strictly following vertical channels of communication. The main reason for this action is to bring together activities in one, or between many, departments [2]. The more complex and bigger an organization is, the more it needs to communicate laterally or diagonally [3]. Horizontal communication is the most popular in institutions with decentralised authorities [4].

Horizontal communication can be included in three categories [5]. Those are:

  • Solving problems within one department. This apply to carrying out the task among members of the same department what is called an “intradepartmental” process.
  • Coordinating projects that engage more than one department. Those messages are aimed at accomplishing joint and more complex tasks. This is referred to as an “interdepartmental” coordination.
  • Giving advice to other departments’ staff. Those messages are sent from specialist in areas that members of other department need help with.

Components of horizontal communication

According to Luis Ramiro Beltran [6] there are three most important requirements which make it possible for horizontal communication to function:

  • Access. All of the participants of communication have to be able to receive messages in the same way. Without similar opportunities for everybody an interaction will fail.
  • Dialogue. Both receiving and emitting messages is vital for horizontal communication. There should be freedom in communication for those who send information and those who hear it. Without those factors an interaction would become a monologue.
  • Participation. A lack of equal possibilities of emitting messages would stop members of departments from taking part in communication. This would result in interactions being controlled by small group of people.

All those factors are interdependent [7]. High level of access increases chances of dialogue and participation. Good dialogue make access more useful. Improvement of participation enhances frequency of dialogue. The more developed they all are, the more effective horizontal communication will be and members of department will be more satisfied with their interactions.



  1. Lunenburg 2010, pp. 6
  2. Verma 2013, pp.68
  3. Lunenburg 2010, pp. 6
  4. Verma 2013, pp.68
  5. Canary, McPhee 2011
  6. Beltran 1979, pp.37
  7. Beltran 1979, pp.38

Author: Izabela Pyszczek