Chamas as Stable Organisations: A Binding Proposition to McPhee and Zaug’s Four Flows

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International Journal of Communication and Public Relation


Purpose: Chamas are popular social collectives in Kenya. Literature suggests that one in three Kenyans belong to at least one Chama, and that though Chamas are formed for a variety of valid reasons, many often break within their formative years. The four Chamas presented in this study are between 8 and 16 years old, and in their words, are growing stronger. The study takes on a Communicative Constitution of Organisation (CCO) metatheoretical stance, to explore how communication constitutes the Chamas as such stable organisations. Methodology: The study adopted the McPhee and Zaug‟s Four Flows model, which suggests that organisations are communicatively constituted through Four flows: membership negotiation, reflexive self-structuring, activity coordination, and institutional positioning. While Chamas exhibit these flows in unique ways, we argue that a more binding, additional flow contributes to a stable Chama, creating an organisation better placed in meeting its objectives, and therefore working better for the wellbeing of its members, as well as its wider social context. This study presents findings from four purposively selected Chamas: KP, BC, UFN, and TW, which were observed over 6 months. Four in depth interviews were held with the leadership of the Chamas, in addition to four focus group discussions with members of the Chamas. Results: The findings reveal a unique Flow, which we refer to as the Intangible Fabric Flow, which arguably, smoothens the running of McPhee and Zaug‟s Four Flows, in the context of the Chamas, and adds an exclusive theoretical contribution. Unique Contribution to theory and practice: The study provides a unique contribution to theory and practice since Chamas and organisations in general will benefit from considering and nurturing an intangible fabric which helps them to hold together, beyond the work that they are doing. This stability can bring with it immense rewards brought about by a stable organisation.


Journal Article


Chamas, CCO, Four Flows, Intangible Fabric


Njeru, B. W., Mbutu, P., & Awiti, J. (2018). Chamas As Stable Organisations: A Binding Proposition To McPhee And Zaug’s Four Flows. International Journal of Communication and Public Relation, 3(1), 18–35.