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Organizational Communication Workshop

Organizational Communication: 
Traditions, Transitions and Transformations


Sunday February 142016


1:00 PM 

Opening Remarks


Forty Years of Organizational Communication

Philip Salem, Texas State University and Erik Timmerman, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee


2:00 PM-5:00 PM

Organizational Communication Domain


Constituting Communicative Capitalism: Expanding the Reach and Vision of Organizational Communication Scholarship

Tim Kuhn, University of Colorado


Cognition and Organizational Communication

Jo Ann Brooks


Conceptualizing Multilevel Expertise

Janet Fulk, University of Southern California


Invisible Domains and Unexplored Terrains:

A Multi-Level View of Hidden Organizations

Craig Scott and Katie Kang, Rutgers University


Leadership and Social Influence:

A Promising Area for Organizational Communication Research

Brent D. Ruben and Ralph A. Gigliotti, Rutgers University


Organizing, Organizations, and the Role of Social Media Conversations

Veronica Dawson, Weber State University


Monday, February 15, 2016


9:00 AM-Noon

Organizational Communication Theory


Organizational Communication Theory

Paul Leonardi, University of California, Santa Barbara


Evolutionary Theory and Models

Peter Monge and Poong Oh, University of Southern California


Exploring the (De)valuation of Process Experts in Contemporary Organizations, Jeffrey W. TreemUniversity of Texas at Austin

and William C. Barley, University of Illinois


Organizational Communication Design Logics: Intervening in the Communicative Constitution of Organizations

Joshua B. Barbour, University of Texas at Austin


Structurating Activity Theory as an Explanatory Framework

Heather E. Canary, University of Utah


Transforming the Present Moment through Conversation and Narrative: Toward a Theory of Hermeneutic Leadership

Guowei Jian, Cleveland State University


2:00 PM

Organizational Communication Applications


Why ‘Practical Application’ Isn’t Enough: Creating Organizational Communication Scholarship that Matters

Sarah J. Tracy, Arizona State University


Communication APTitude for Leadership Success

Eric M. Eisenberg and Sean E. Mahar, University of South Florida


Doing Applied Organizational Communication Research: Bridging a Gap Between Our and Managers’ Understandings of Organization and Communication, Jody L. S. Jahn, University of Colorado at Boulder


An Economy of Guilt for Single Moms at the Intersections of Identity and Work-Life: Building Theory of Marginalization and Privilege, Kendra Dyanne Rivera, California State University, San Marcos


Exploring New Territories with the Communicative Process of Organizing: Applications of Organizational Communication in Team Science, Margaret Hinrichs, Arizona State University

Making the Case for Academic and Social Impact in Organizational Communication Research, J. Kevin Barge, Texas A&M University


February 16, 2016, Tuesday

8:00 AM-9:45 AM

Organizational Communication Research Methods

Adapting and Advancing Research Methods for Organizational Communication: Balancing Methodological Diversity and Depth, While Creating Methodological Curiosity

Keri Stephens, University of Texas


Expanding Organizational Research Methods:

Analyzing Ruptures in Qualitative Research

Sarah Jane Blithe and Anna Wiederhold Wolfe, University of Nevada, Reno


Imagining Qualitative Organizational Communication Research Beyond the Quantitative Specter: Introducing a Comparative Constructed Focus Group Method

Elizabeth K. Eger, University of Colorado at Boulder

and Amy K. Way, Villanova University


An Introduction and Application of Computational Social Science Methods for Organizational Communication Research

Andy Pilny, University of Kentucky and Scott Poole, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign


10:00 AM-11:45 AM

Organizational Communication Ethics and Responsibility


Ethics, Agency and Non-human agency in the Study of the Communicative Constitution of Organizations

Rebecca Meisenbach, University of Missouri


Critiquing the Tradition of Organizational Ethics Training: Making Room for a Moral Mindfulness Transformation

Ryan S. Bisel, University of Oklahoma


Imagination, Action, and Justice: Trends and Possibilities at the Intersection of Organizational Communication and Social Justice

Tim Huffman, St. Louis University


Reworking Resistance: A Postcolonial Perspective on International NGOs

Jenna N. Hanchey  University of Texas at Austin


The Six Disabilities in Organizational Communication: A Metatheoretical Examination of the Perception of Power

Philip Hohle, Concordia University Texas



Conference Overview

On February 11-16, 2016 we will host “Organizational Communication Traditions, Transitions, and Transformations”, a fortieth anniversary conference. The 2016 conference is part of a tradition of organizational communication scholars coming together for a special occasion to reflect on the arc of their work. It will be the third such conference with each conference separated by twenty years. Holding conferences two decades apart provides an opportunity to consider how the discipline may have made a transition from one idea to another, from one generation of scholars and practitioners to another, and how some ideas have transformed the way scholars and practitioners understand organizational communication. These conference themes encourage scholars to reflect on how the study and practice of the discipline has evolved with special attention to points of transition or transformation. Please join Tim Kuhn, Paul Leonardi, Rebecca Meisenbach, Keri Stephens, Sarah Tracy, and us for an exciting event.

All the conference events will be at the newly renovated Radisson Hotel and Suites in downtown Austin. The hotel is on Town Lake in the heart of Austin, and internationally known chef Shawn Cirkiel prepares the food for the Chavez Restaurant. The conference fee includes the costs for an opening night reception, snacks during sessions, and a special lunch on Monday.

Dr. Salem

Dr. Timmerman

Phil Salem, Texas State University and
Erik Timmerman, University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee


In 1976 Phil Salem hosted a three-day conference, “Organizational Communication as a Discipline” on the campus of Texas State University. There were five scholarly panels organized around Elwood Murray’s five parts of a discipline. Each panel included one invited paper and four to six peer-reviewed papers per panel. The newly created National Communication Association (NCA) Research Board’s first official action was to sponsor the conference, and the organizational communication division of the International Communication Association (ICA) also endorsed the event.

In 1996 Phil followed up on the first conference by hosting “Organizational Communication and Change: Challenges in the Next Century”. It was a twentieth anniversary six-day conference. The first three days featured workshops delivered by consultants who donated their fees to offset the conference expenses. The second three days consisted of five panels featuring one invited paper and four to six peer-reviewed papers with plenty of time for discussion. The conference was in Austin, organizers limited attendance to 100 scholars plus presenters, and some participants came from Europe, South America, and Canada. ICA and NCA both sponsored the event.

Seven NCA presidents, seven ICA presidents, twelve ICA Research Fellows, and 12 ICA Organizational Communication Outstanding Members attended one or both of the previous conferences. At the first conference, the domain panel reflected management concerns and a functionalist approach, but at the second conference, the research was more about how the individual related to the organization and the organizational culture. At both conferences, the theory panels were robust, and the 1996 panelists presented papers included papers about transforming organizations through communication, arguments for organizations as communication, and a critique refocusing systems approaches on nonlinear processes. In 1976, there were few papers about methods, but the second conference featured contrasts with one paper describing the importance of historical methods and another addressing neural networks. At the first conference there were few submissions to the ethics and responsibilities section, but in 1996 research ranged from healthcare to technology. Interestingly, there were few papers detailing applications at either conference. Hampton Press published selected papers from both conferences in Organizational Communication and Change.

Today’s organizational communication scholarship reflects continued growth, expansion, and maturation of the discipline. Our research yields new insights about the fundamentally communicative nature of organizations and reorients theory and research to begin a process of illuminating and reinterpreting various organizational phenomena. A sense of decreased self consciousness moves concern away from defensive questions about “What counts as organizational communication and what is the best way to study it?” toward confident curiosity to ask, “How does our discipline’s theory, research, and methodology help us to better understand or improve organizational processes?” Although journal-and chapter-length publications continue to grow in number, we are also beginning to see book-length ideas that share communication-focused perspectives about issues of structure, effectiveness, technology, and beyond.