Reframing Difference in Organizational Communication Studies: Research, Pedagogy, Practice

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Dennis K. Mumby

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    Organizing Difference: An Introduction

    Dennis K.Mumby

    This volume appears at a propitious moment in the evolution of the field of organizational communication. Over the last two decades the field has struggled mightily with how best to address the ways that organizing, power, and communication processes intersect in the context of everyday meaning construction and sense-making practices. This struggle has taken many forms, including interpretive, critical, post-structuralist, and feminist efforts to unpack the processes through which systems of meaning, power, and institutional forms are structured. At the heart of this effort has been the recognition—sometimes explicit, frequently implicit—that difference is both medium and product of the relations of power that organization members communicatively construct. Put in more Batesonian terms, critical organizational communication scholars have for a long time been exploring the ways that “the differences that make a difference” are produced, reproduced, and challenged in organizational life. Difference, as many have argued, is by no means fixed and existing “out there” in the external world, but rather arises through the ability of particular interest groups to marshal discursive, political, and economic resources in order to privilege one system of difference over another. In this sense, it is only through difference that—in the Saussurian sense—a meaningful world becomes possible at all. However, while difference may be arbitrary, it never arises by accident.

    Curiously enough, however, critical organization scholars have both embraced difference as a focus of study and held it gingerly at arm's length. Taking on difference as a guiding construct and empirical problematic simultaneously opens up myriad possibilities for exploring organizing and leads one up a conceptual cul-de-sac. Put simply, studying difference in all its complexities is damn hard. We are taught from early in our graduate training that taking on any theoretical framework inevitably means that we can construct only partial, perspectival views of human behavior. All seeing is theory-laden, to paraphrase Norwood Hansen (1958), and such a recognition provides some comfort that we are not expected to do it all; we simply try to carve out our own carefully delineated area of research and leave the rest to others, making the usual disclaimers along the way about contingency, partiality, provisionalism, and so forth.

    But somehow these same arguments ring rather hollow when it comes to studying and theorizing difference. Typically, the argument has gone something like this: In the 1980s, critical organization studies theorized power in a relatively generic manner, with occasional references to class or “sectional interests” (Giddens, 1979) as the underlying mechanism for the construction of difference and social inequity. Sometimes there were allusions to the need to expand conceptions of difference to include, for example, discussions of gender. Hearn and Parkin's (1983) review of research on gender and organization, tellingly subtitled “A Selective Review and Critique of a Neglected Area,” gives some indication of how marginal the critical study of gender and organizing was back then. Sometimes critical scholars gave rather elaborate and tortured explanations of why gender was excluded as a focus of study. Thus, Alvesson and Willmott (1992), in their widely-read edited collection, Critical Management Studies, stated, “Arguably, most if not all social phenomena involve a gender aspect, but it would be reductionistic to capture most aspects of management, production, and consumption basically in feminist terms …” (p. 9).

    Of course, such a sentiment was rather overwhelmed in the course of the 1990s by efforts to systematically theorize and study the relationships among gender, organization, and power, spurred in many respects by Acker's (1990) landmark essay as well as by early theoretical essays in organizational communication (e.g., Marshall, 1993) that saw gender not simply as an addition to extant organizing processes but as medium and product of everyday organizational sense-making and meaning formations.

    But what goes around comes around. It soon became clear that while the broadening of critical organization studies to include gender was a welcome and much-needed move, it also included its own limitations and blind spots. Perhaps most glaringly, little attention was paid to the ways in which race was encoded in everyday organizational life. Indeed, in many ways, and for all its talk about gender as socially constructed, much of this work has tended to essentialize gender as isolated from other, related constructions of difference. Perhaps most frustratingly, many of these studies made frequent calls for the expansion of research to address other difference issues, such as race, but rarely went beyond the expression of a need for such research.

    So we see a pattern emerging here. First, a line of research is established that begins to address a neglected aspect of difference; then, the limitations of this work are highlighted as other areas of difference are shown to be marginalized. In other words, the general approach to difference in organization studies can be broadly characterized as additive and piecemeal, with limited efforts to theorize difference in a sustained and coherent manner. Maybe it's time for a different approach to difference.

    I'm not going to make any grandiose claims about how this volume solves many of the problems associated with existing research on difference (in any form) and organization. However, I do think that, taken collectively, the essays represent a sustained effort to do justice to the complexities and contradictions that characterize difference as a fundamental and defining feature of organizational life. Moreover, each chapter explores the relationship between difference and organizing communicatively, examining how difference is both medium and outcome of the collective sense-making processes of organization members. In other words, difference is both the mechanism through which meanings and identities are organized and the product—intended or unintended—of everyday organizing and collective sense-making. In this context, each of the chapters explores, in various ways, how certain forms of difference are organized into everyday life while others are organized out or marginalized.

    Rather than being organized around different forms of difference (which, I think, would defeat the object of theorizing difference in a more systemic, less piecemeal manner), the book is instead structured in three different, but related, sections. In the first section, “Theorizing Difference,” contributors explore a number of ways in which difference can be critically examined as a communicative phenomenon; in each chapter, difference is examined as routinely accomplished through everyday organizing processes. Thus, the overarching goal in this section is not to add difference to the list of empirical phenomena that organizational communication scholars must address; rather, the goal is to demonstrate the importance of “difference” as both a construct—a sensitizing device—through which the complexities of organizational communication processes can be examined and as a constitutive feature of everyday organizing. Identities, social realities, and power relations are both medium and outcome of difference.

    These chapters explore difference as an organizing mechanism through which these phenomena are produced and reproduced. First, Karen Ashcraft's chapter lays out what, I believe, is an exciting research agenda for the study of difference and organizing; indeed, this initial chapter can be viewed as the conceptual leitmotif for the entire book. Rather than analyzing difference as an individual, group, or organizational phenomenon, Ashcraft instead theorizes it as “an organizing principle of the meaning, structure, practice, and economy of work.” With this alternative conception, Ashcraft explores difference not as a manifestation of organizing, but rather as a constitutive mechanism in the organization and understanding of work itself. Next, Linda Putnam, Jody Jahn, and Jane Stuart Baker explore a dialectical approach to difference. Dialectics have played an important part in productively complicating our understanding of communication processes, and Putnam et al.'s chapter frames difference and organizing in ways that move us beyond the rather pervasive tendency to treat difference in a binary manner. The third chapter in this section, by Sarah Dempsey, adopts a transnational feminist approach to difference and organizing. Here, Dempsey looks specifically at the intersectional character of difference, placed in the context of real world globalization processes and the need for praxis-oriented ways to address the effects of globalization. The section ends with Gail Fairhurst, Marthe Church, Danielle Hagen, and Joseph Levi's analysis of the executive coaching literature via a feminist Foucauldian lens. The chapter provides some interesting insights into the gender subtexts that underlie the disciplinary technologies of this movement.

    The second section takes up the growing understanding that theorizing difference is inseparable from the need to adequately prepare students for life in an organizational society and its numerous manifestations—corporate, nonprofit, voluntary, nongovernmental, and so forth. In this context, students are increasingly in need of analytic and practical tools that permit them to engage with, and productively participate in, the organization of difference. Such tools are essential if our students are to become self-reflexive and responsive citizens in a democracy. Each of the chapters, then, approaches the intersection of pedagogy and difference in a praxis-oriented manner, drawing on various theoretical constructs to illustrate how dialogues about difference can become integral features of the classroom environment. Teaching (about) difference is one of the biggest challenges that instructors face, and each of these chapters addresses difference and organizing in innovative and provocative ways. One of the most exciting elements of these chapters is that each author self-reflexively explores his or her struggles with teaching difference and each provides concrete, pragmatic recommendations for instructors confronting their own struggles with how to address difference in teaching of organizational communication.

    First, Brenda Allen develops critical communication pedagogy as a framework that she uses to teach difference. Usefully, she explores in some detail her own experiences teaching a class called “Difference Matters in Organizational Communication.” Erika Kirby's chapter uses social identity theory to discuss how she explores the privilege<–> oppression dialectic with her students. One of the most insightful aspects of Erika's chapter is her discussion of the struggle to develop classroom dialogues about difference and privilege<–>oppression when the students are overwhelmingly White and privileged. Jennifer Mease's chapter works as an effective complement to Kirby's chapter, addressing how teaching issues of difference to (often privileged) students is partly a question of exploring the relationship between individual and institutional perspectives. As she indicates, her goal in exploring this relationship with students is to show that difference is less individual and more personal—a paradox that I will let you, the reader, unpack as you read her essay. Finally, the section ends with Shiv Ganesh's discussion of teaching difference and organizing in Aotearoa/New Zealand. Using a specific case study (the Josie Bullock case), he provides a deft analysis of how his discussions with Maori and Pakeha (White European) students help to reframe his own sense-making about this case that pivots on the relationship between Maori and Pakeha cultures and customs. Moreover, he explores how bicultural analyses pose their own dialogic problems.

    The third and final section of the book takes up difference as a central construct in applied organizational communication research. Continuing the communication orientation, this section explores difference not simply in terms of “workplace diversity” initiatives, but examines it more broadly as a communicative mechanism through which organizations enable some possibilities and exclude others. Each of the chapters in this section adopts an explicitly interventionist and engaged approach to organization and difference. Furthermore, each addresses difference as a constitutive—rather than additive—feature of organizational life.

    First, John McClellan, Stephen Williams, and Stanley Deetz's essay examines the National Science Foundation's (NSF) program to advance women in the STEM disciplines (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics). Beginning with the premise that ways of talking about difference shape meanings and behaviors, they identify four vocabularies that have emerged around implementation of the NSF's intervention program: (1) Diversity, (2) Equity, (3) Advancement, and (4) Development. The essay shows how each of these discourses constitutes a particular articulation of meaning about difference and, as such, has different—sometimes hidden—interests and consequences. The goal of their essay is to illustrate that, at a very pragmatic level, different ways of talking about difference have concrete consequences in terms of how institutions intervene in diversity efforts. Patricia Parker, Elisa Oceguera, and Joaquín Sánchez provide fascinating insight into how a research team with diverse identities engages in a community-based research project. The authors focus not on the project itself, but rather on the tensions between their roles as academics and social justice advocates engaged in change efforts. The essay beautifully illustrates how each member of the research team struggles self-reflexively with their own sense of identities in relationship to the members of the vulnerable communities with which they are working. For anyone interested in questions of representation (in terms of both voice and epistemology) in politically engaged ethnographic work, this essay effectively interrogates the multiple challenges faced by researchers-activists.

    Patrice Buzzanell, Rebecca Dohrman, and Suzie D'Enbeau take as their subject a much-researched phenomenon in organizational communication—the issue of work-life balance and care giving. Here, their focus is not work-life balance per se, but rather the popular and academic discourses that have constructed work-life balance issues in different ways. Adopting a political economy perspective, the essay illustrates how difference is implicated and constructed in a number of ways in relation to work-life issues, privileging some political interests and marginalizing others. The essay concludes with practical and policy recommendations for how work-life balance issues can be more equitably addressed. Finally, Lynn Harter and William Rawlins's essay examines disability and the disabled body as a site of struggle over difference. In a study of “Passion Works,” a nonprofit artists' studio within a sheltered workshop, Harter and Rawlins adopt a dialogical aesthetic approach in order to explore Passion Works's “aesthetic celebration of embodied differences.” Harter and Rawlins see Passion Works not as an organization that merely accommodates difference, but rather as instantiating a broader model for organizational responses to difference. In this context, difference is not normalized or accommodated, but rather aesthetically and dialogically answered and engaged in order to open up possibilities for relationality and meaning construction.

    Taken as a whole, then, the twelve essays in this volume represent an important and sustained effort to address the intersection of difference and organizing in a way that does justice to the complexity of the topic. I hope readers will be inspired to contribute to this important conversation.

    Acknowledgments

    The origins of this volume lie in a day-long doctoral preconference held at the 2007 International Communication Association conference in San Francisco, where a number of organizational communication scholars and PhD students came together to address the problems and possibilities that inhere in the intersection of organizing and difference. The dynamism of the discussions that day clearly warranted further development and elaboration, and this volume is the result. I'd like to thank Linda Putnam, for first encouraging me to edit a volume based on the conference discussions, as well as the reviewers of the initial proposal: Boris H. J. M. Brummans (Université de Montréal); David Carlone (The University of North Carolina at Greensboro); François Cooren (Université de Montréal); Kristen Lucas (University of Nebraska-Lincoln); Majia Holmer Nadesan (Arizona State University); Jennifer Ziegler (Valparaiso University). At Sage, Todd Armstrong shepherded this project through the various stages of publication with his usual verve and élan, while Nathan Davidson provided invaluable editorial assistance. In the final stages of the project, Jeni Dill proved to be an exceptional copy editor, and Eric Garner ensured the book's timely progress through the production process.

    Ultimately, however, an edited volume such as this is only as good as its contributors. I was fortunate enough to be blessed with authors who had important things to say, and who said them in an erudite and insightful manner. Their words stand as eloquent tribute to the success of the preconference.

    References
    Acker, J. (1990). Hierarchies, jobs, bodies: A theory of gendered organizations. Gender and Society, 4, 139–158. http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/089124390004002002
    Alvesson, M., & Willmott, H. (Eds.). (1992). Critical management studies. Newbury Park, CA: Sage.
    Giddens, A. (1979). Central problems in social theory: Action, structure and contradiction in social analysis. Berkeley: University of California Press.
    Hanson, N. (1958). Patterns of discovery: An inquiry into the conceptual foundations of science. Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press.
    Hearn, J., & Parkin, W. (1983). Gender and organizations: A selective review and critique of a neglected area. Organization Studies, 4, 219–242. http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/017084068300400302
    Marshall, J. (1993). Viewing organizational communication from a feminist perspective: A critique and some offerings. In S. A.Deetz (Ed.), Communication Yearbook (Vol. 16, pp. 122–141). Newbury Park, CA: Sage.
  • Author Index

    About the Editor

    Dennis K. Mumby (PhD, Southern Illinois University, Carbondale) is Professor and Chair in the Department of Communication Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. His research examines the relationships among discourse, power, and identity in work settings. He has published several books, including Communication and Power in Organizations (Ablex, 1988), Reworking Gender (Sage, 2004, with Karen Ashcraft), and Engaging Organizational Communication Theory and Research (Sage, 2005, with Steve May). He is on the editorial board of numerous journals, including Human Relations, Organization Studies, and Management Communication Quarterly. He is a former chair of the Organizational Communication Division of both the National Communication Association and the International Communication Association. He is a five-time winner of NCA's Organizational Communication Division Annual Research Award for outstanding scholarly work. When he's not working, he loves to read good fiction, play golf, and run (but not all at the same time).

    About the Contributors

    Brenda J. Allen (PhD, Howard University) is an associate dean in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and a professor in the Department of Communication at the University of Colorado–Denver, where she also is the master mentor of the Tenure Track Faculty Mentoring Program. Her research and teaching areas are organizational communication, diversity, and critical pedagogy. Among her numerous publications is a groundbreaking book titled Difference Matters: Communicating Social Identity (2004, Waveland Press). She presents keynote speeches and conducts workshops for various groups on a range of topics, including diversity, empowerment, mentoring, presentational speaking, and teamwork. She was recently designated as a Master Teacher by the Western States Communication Association.

    Karen Lee Ashcraft (PhD, University of Colorado–Boulder) is a professor of Organizational Communication at the University of Colorado at Boulder and an associate editor for Human Relations. Her research examines gender, race, and sexuality in the context of work, particularly as these relations intersect with organizational forms and occupational identities. She specializes in qualitative methodologies, and her research has appeared in such forums as Communication Monographs, Management Communication Quarterly, Administrative Science Quarterly, and the Academy of Management Journal. She co-authored a book with Dennis Mumby, Reworking Gender, which explores the contributions of feminist scholarship to critical studies of work and organization. Among her current projects is a five-year study of U.S. commercial airline pilots—an empirical case that illuminates how an occupation's institutional status as “professional” develops in relation to social constructions of gender and race.

    Jane Stuart Baker (PhD, Texas A&M University) is an assistant professor in the Department of Communication Studies at the University of Alabama. She has co-authored chapters in several books, including Research Methods for Studying Groups: A Behind-the-Scenes Guide (in press), Managing Organizational Crises (in press), Rhetorical and Critical Approaches to Public Relations (2008), and Applied Health Communication (2008). In 2006, she was awarded the John “Sam” Keltner Inspiration Award for the Most Outstanding Student Paper by the National Communication Association's Peace and Conflict Division. She studies diversity, dialectics, conflict, and group communication in organizations.

    Patrice M. Buzzanell (PhD, Purdue University) is professor and the W. Charles and Ann Redding Faculty Fellow in the Department of Communication at Purdue University. Her research centers on leadership, work-life issues, and careers, particularly gendered careers and those associated with science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). Buzzanell has edited Rethinking Organizational and Managerial Communication From Feminist Perspectives (2000), Gender in Applied Communication Contexts (2004, with H. Sterk and L. Turner), and Distinctive Qualities in Communication Research (2010, with D. Carbaugh). Author of approximately 100 books, articles, and chapters, she has also edited Management Communication Quarterly and has held key leadership positions in communication associations. A former Research Board member for the National Communication Association (NCA) and president of the Organization for the Study of Communication, Language, and Gender (OSCLG), she is currently Immediate Past President of the International Communication Association (ICA) and current president of the Council of Communication Associations (CCA).

    Marthe L. Church (MA, University of Cincinnati) is a Homeless Education liaison for Project Connect, Cincinnati Public Schools.

    Stanley Deetz (PhD, Ohio University) is professor of Communication, director of the Center for the Study of Conflict, Collaboration, and Creative Governance, and a President's Teaching Scholar at the University of Colorado. He is author/co-author of numerous articles and twelve books, including Leading Organizations through Transitions, Doing Critical Management Research, and Democracy in an Age of Corporate Colonization. His research focuses on corporate governance and communication processes in relation to democracy, micropractices of power, and collaborative decision-making. His current work investigates native theories of communication and democracy and their consequences for mutual decision-making. He was a Senior Fulbright Scholar and is a National Communication Association Distinguished Scholar and an International Communication Association Past-President and Fellow.

    Sarah E. Dempsey (PhD, University of Colorado–Boulder) is assistant professor in the Department of Communication Studies at the University of North Carolina–Chapel Hill, where she teaches organizational communication, communication theory, and critical/cultural approaches to globalization and civil society. She is interested in problems of communication, collaboration, and representation within nonprofit, community-based, and gendered forms of organizing. Her research has appeared in Management Communication Quarterly, Communication and Critical/Cultural Studies, Feminist Media Studies, Communication Monographs, and The International and Intercultural Communication Annual. She is currently writing about the rise of social entrepreneurship, including how it is impacting meanings of work within the nonprofit sector.

    Suzy D'Enbeau (PhD, Purdue University) is an assistant professor in the Department of Communication Studies at the University of Kansas. Suzy studies work-life issues, popular culture, and feminist organizing processes, particularly the branding of feminism in a neoliberal economy. Her work has appeared in Feminist Media Studies and Qualitative Inquiry. She has also co-authored book chapters that explore intersections of class, parenting, and work.

    Rebecca L. Dohrman (PhD, Purdue University) is an assistant professor of communication at Maryville University. Rebecca's research interests include the discursive construction and material-symbolic intersections within several high-tech careers, such as engineering, computer science, and entrepreneurship. Additionally, Rebecca does research on gender and work-life intersections. Her dissertation focused on the discourses of high tech entrepreneurship for young people and the materiality of entrepreneurial work.

    Gail T. Fairhurst (PhD, University of Oregon) is a professor of communication at the University of Cincinnati. Her research interests include organizational communication, leadership, and organizational discourse. She has published over 60 articles in communication and management journals as well as book chapters. She is the author of three books, including Discursive Leadership: In Conversation With Leadership Psychology (Sage, 2007) and The Power of Framing: Creating the Language of Leadership (Jossey-Bass, 2010). Her work has received numerous awards. She is also a Fulbright Scholar, an associate editor for Human Relations, and serves on a number of editorial boards.

    Shiv Ganesh (PhD, Purdue University) is an associate professor in the Department of Management Communication, at the University of Waikato in Aotearoa New Zealand and is editor of the Journal of International and Intercultural Communication (Vols. 4, 5 and 6). His research, which focuses upon issues of globalization, transnationalism, and technology in the context of social movements and civil society organizing, has been published in several outlets, including Communication Monographs, Communication Yearbook, Human Relations, Journal of Applied Communication Research, Management Communication Quarterly, and others. He is co-author of the book Organizational Communication in an Age of Globalization: Issues, Reflections, Practices, now in its second edition.

    Danielle Hagen (MA, University of Cincinnati) is an adjunct instructor of Public Relations and Effective Public Speaking at the University of Cincinnati and an account executive at Wordsworth Communications.

    Lynn M. Harter (PhD, University of Nebraska–Lincoln) is the Steven and Barbara Schoonover Professor in the School of Communication Studies at Ohio University and the senior editor of Health Communication. Her scholarship focuses on the discourses of health and healing and organizing processes, feminist and narrative theory-praxis. She has published over 50 journal articles and book chapters and several books and edited volumes. She lives in Athens, Ohio, with her husband, Scott, daughter, Emma Grace, and basset hound Ned.

    Jody L. S. Jahn (MA, University of California–Santa Barbara) is a doctoral student in the Department of Communication at University of California–Santa Barbara. Her research focuses on organizational socialization, membership negotiation, and gender in high reliability organizations.

    Erika L. Kirby (PhD, University of Nebraska–Lincoln) is a professor and chair of Communication Studies at Creighton University. A teacher-scholar of organizational communication, her teaching and research interests emphasize how differing social identities (especially gender) assimilate into↔collide with organizations. Broadly speaking, she is interested in the everyday intersections of work and personal life, and she has published widely in that area. She co-edited Gender Actualized: Cases in Communicatively Constructing Realities with Chad McBride and has published in outlets such as Communication Monographs, Journal of Applied Communication Research, Management Communication Quarterly, and Communication Yearbook. She is president of the Organization for the Study of Communication, Language, and Gender and vice-chair of the Organizational Communication Division of the National Communication Association. She has trained and consulted for multiple constituencies within Creighton University as well as in organizations outside of academe. She lives in Omaha, Nebraska, with her partner Bob, daughters Meredith and Samantha, and cat Otis.

    Joe Levi (MA, University of Cincinnati) is a supply chain specialist for Total Quality Logistics.

    John G. McClellan (PhD, University of Colorado, Boulder) is an assistant professor of communication at Boise State University. With an interest in communicative approaches for living and working together in an increasingly pluralistic society, his work attends to collaborative practices that might enable more sustainable and mutually beneficial ways of organizing. His recent collaborative work appears in The Handbook of Business Discourse (2009) and The Oxford Handbook of Critical Management Studies (2009). His current research explores the discursive quality of organizing with attention to issues of knowledge, identity, collaboration, and organizational change. As a former organizational change strategy consultant, his research focuses on organizing discourses that simultaneously enable and constrain opportunities to transform the ways we understand and engage organizational life.

    Jennifer J. Mease (PhD, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill) is an assistant professor in the Department of Communication at Texas A&M University. Her research focuses on organizations as sites of cultural production, addressing how social bias is built into organizational structures and theorizing the process of organizing to create social change. This focus has lead her to study a variety of organizational contexts and processes, including the regulation and construction of race in public school board meetings, teaching about whiteness and human differences, and diversity consultants' strategies for social change.

    Elisa Oceguera (MA, San Francisco State University) is a doctoral student in Cultural Studies at the University of California–Davis. She is an active participant in several horizontal collectives that engage in the politics of encounter, action, and dignity. Her research interests focus on women of color feminisms, cultural studies, autonomous social movements, food politics, and community-based research methods. Her current work looks at the links between food security discourse, race, and the neoliberalization of urban commons. She currently resides in San Francisco.

    Patricia Parker (PhD, University of Texas–Austin) is associate professor of communication studies at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the founder and executive director of The Ella Baker Women's Center for Leadership and Community Activism, a venture supported by a Kauffman Faculty Fellowship for social entrepreneur-ship. Her work uses critical/feminist and postcolonial frameworks to explore questions at the intersections of race, gender, class, and power in organization processes. The primary focus of her research is girls' and women's leadership communication practices as constitutive of resistance and transformative social action. Her publications include a book on African American women's executive leadership in dominant culture organizations (Erlbaum, 2005), as well as several articles and book chapters appearing in edited volumes and journals.

    Linda L. Putnam (PhD, University of Minnesota) is a professor in the Department of Communication at the University of California–Santa Barbara. She was the George T. and Gladys H. Abell Professor and Regent's Professor in the Department of Communication at Texas A&M University prior to this appointment. She has published seven co-edited books, including Building Theories of Organization (2009), Organizational Communication: Major Works (2006), The Sage Handbook of Organizational Discourse (2004), and The New Handbook of Organizational Communication (2001). She is a Distinguished Scholar of the National Communication Association, a Fellow of the International Communication Association (ICA), and the 2005 recipient of the ICA Steven H. Chaffee Career Productivity Award. Her scholarship focuses on gender and negotiation, organizational conflict, dialectics, and language analysis in organizations.

    William K. Rawlins (PhD, University of Delaware) is Stocker Professor of Communication Studies at Ohio University, Athens, Ohio. His latest book is The Compass of Friendship: Narratives, Identities, and Dialogues (Sage, 2009), which received the 2009 David R. Maines Narrative Research Award from the Carl Couch Center for Social and Internet Research. His book, Friendship Matters: Communication, Dialectics, and the Life Course, was designated a 1993 Choice Outstanding Academic Book and received the Gerald R. Miller Book Award in 1994 from the Interpersonal and Small Group Interaction Division of the National Communication Association. In 2002, he received The Theory That Has Left a Legacy Award: “The Dialectical Perspective” from the Communication Theory Interest Group of the Central States Communication Association. He presently serves on the editorial boards of six scholarly journals and continues to study how communicating as friends facilitates the well-lived life for persons and societies.

    Joaquín Sánchez, Jr. (BA, Eugene Lang College, The New School for Liberal Arts) hails from Aztlán by way of La Villita on Chicago's Southwest Side. The son of an immigrant father and a Chicana mother, he understands intimately the struggles of working-class, immigrant, people of color. As a good mestizo, he balances this history and his art as a radical, Xicano, Queer poet with his organizing and movement-building work in the ongoing struggles for environmental and LGBTQ justice in NYC. He received his B.A. in Education Studies at The New School. Joaquín is a founding member of the Ella Baker Women's Center for Leadership and Community Activism in Chapel Hill, where he also conducted graduate research at the University of North Carolina–Chapel Hill. He gives big ups to all the mentors, elders, and ancestors who have offered guidance and paved the way.

    Stephen Williams, MA, is a PhD candidate in communication at the University of Colorado. His research interests are in exploring communication processes that cultivate micro-emancipation and collaborative decision-making in organizations experiencing change. He is a practicing organizational change and enterprise resource-planning (ERP) technology consultant to international corporations and government organizations globally. He has worked with organizations such as the United Kingdom Department of Work and Pensions, Genus Plc., Qualcomm, Daiwa Capital Markets Europe, Roadrunner Sports, General Dynamics, and numerous small- to medium-sized businesses. His work is influenced by applied research approaches and explores the intersection between theory and practice. His current research focuses on corporate governance, collaboration, power, and technology in relation to sustained organizational change.


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