Posted by: Claudia Amezcua | December 3, 2019

Boeing attempts to save face

Boeing invited a select group of people this week to its plant in Seattle to present its vision to bring back its 737 Max into service after two fatal crashes that killed 346 people.

Earlier this year it was discovered that Boeing hadn’t updated airline companies about the latest features in the popular model. In the new update, the autopilot system that engages at takeoff can encounter an error leaving the pilots powerless in the air.

As a result, Boeing is scrambling to deal with the crisis as it was an error that could have been prevented. (Holtzhausen, D. R., & Roberts, G. F., 2009, p. 167)

In an effort to work pass the issue, the invites who do not include members of the media will visit the plant on Tuesday and Wednesday, the invites who do not include media members will be offered briefings with executives and a visit to the company’s aircraft delivery center, Max production facility in Renton and cover flights and expenses (Josephs, 2019).

The 737 Max airplanes were grounded by the FAA and are now entering its 10th month causing many major airlines hundreds of millions of dollars. 


Lesliejosephs. (2019, December 2). Boeing invites industry members to 737 Max factory in charm offensive for beleaguered plane. Retrieved from

Holtzhausen, D. R., & Roberts, G. F. (2009). An investigation into the role of image repair theory in strategic conflict management. Journal of Public Relations Research, 21(2), 165-186.

Posted by: arushton46 | December 2, 2019

A Crisis In Our Backyard

This fall, an organization known as Mercy Corps (MC) was exposed after horrific allegations of co-founder Ellsworth Culver. This occurred as a result of the late co-founder‘s alleged sexual abuse of his daughter and the corporations attempts to silence the issue when it was first brought to light in 1992. Despite multiple attempts to voice the abuse, she was overlooked until this year. Following her public statements and the demands of employees, CEO Neal Keny-Guyer resigned.

As a result, Mercy Corps issued this statement:    

The Mercy Corps Board today heard global Mercy Corps employees’ demands for accountability and responsibility after it was revealed this week that the daughter of co-founder Ellsworth Culver brought details of sexual abuse perpetrated by him to the attention of Mercy Corps in the early 1990s and again in 2018. (Mercy Corps, 2019, para. 2)

With the resignation of principal figures and an investigation into the internal framework, will it be enough to save the image of Mercy Corps? Contingency theory argues the communication between the organization and its public can be managed strategically (Wilcox & Cameron, 2006). The way MC communicates with the public surrounding this issue will play a pivotal role in if the company will stay alive.


Holtzhausen, D. R., & Roberts, G. F. (2009). An investigation into the role of image repair theory in strategic conflict management. Journal of Public Relations Research, 21(2), 165-186.

Co-Chair, B. (2019, October 10). Mercy Corps Chief Executive Officer Resigns. Retrieved from

Posted by: rachelyangl | December 2, 2019

Oops, they did it again!

Over thanksgiving break, while almost everyone got to spend the holiday with family and friends, there were a group of emergency dispatchers who sacrificed their time off for those in need. An Oklahoma police officer made a Starbucks run for his colleagues to thank them for working during the holiday but when he got his order, as reported by the New York Times, he saw the word “PIG” printed on a cup’s label. 

As a result, the barista was fired after Starbucks issued an apology and initiated a “Coffee With a Cop” event, for local law enforcement to meet with baristas to discuss the role that dispatchers and officers play in keeping communities safe- a crisis response within the Situational Crisis Communication Theory. After identifying the crisis type and assessing its severity of reputational damage, the global coffee giant apologized and, in an effort, to make the crisis appear less negative to stakeholders, it decided to host a meet and greet to bring the two parties together. This is in line with SCCT’s crisis response strategies options: deny, diminish, and deal (Coombs, 2016). 

Was this the appropriate way to extend an olive branch? Sure, given the repetitiveness (crisis history) of such incidents of its baristas, Starbucks selected a crisis response strategy that best served to protect the organization, accepted greater responsibility and sought to repair legitimacy (Coombs, 2006; Allen and Caillouet, 1994; Benoit, 1995; Sellnow, Ulmer, and Snider, 1998).


Coombs, T. (2006). The protective powers of crisis response strategies: managing reputational assets during a crisis. Journal of Promotion ManagementVol. 12(3/4): 241-260. 

Padilla, M. (2019, November 30). Starbucks barista fired after officer’s cup had ‘pig’ on the label. Retrieved from

Posted by: arushton46 | November 26, 2019

Media Richness In The Modern Era

Communication is becoming increasingly more complex due to advancements in technology. Now, employers and individuals must weigh how different communication mediums will affect the intended message. Is it now acceptable for most communication processes to occur over computer mediated communication (CMC) platforms?

An important part of this weeks reading was the media richness theory (MRT). The media richness theory was developed by Daft and Lengel in 1984. MRT refers to the capacity of a medium and its ability to convey information effectively. According to El-Shinnawy Maha and Markus Lynne, “Several studies have found empirical support for the ability of MRT to account for differences in the way individuals choose among traditional media and between traditional and new media” (Maha & Lynne, 1997, p.444). Face to face communication (FtF) is considered the richest theory and is followed by phone calls and then other CMC platforms (Dainton & Zelley, 2019). The reason why certain mediums afford richer forms of communication are correlated to the readers ability to infer cues. Thus, it is important to choose platforms that are conducive to a sender’s message and the receivers understanding.


Dainton, M., & Zelley, E.D. (2019). Applying communication theory for professional life: a practical introduction (4th ed., pp. 143–150). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, Inc.

El-Shinnawy, M., & Markus, M. L. (1997). The poverty of media richness theory: explaining people’s choice of electronic mail vs. voice mail. International Journal of Human-Computer Studies46(4), 443-467.

Posted by: nataliaxorozco | November 17, 2019

Fair Fight 2020: Stacey Abram’s New Power Leadership

“With your help, we will repair our broken democracy and empower the voters of America to set the direction of our nation,” these are the words of Stacey Abrams, who narrowly lost Georgia’s gubernatorial race in 2018 to Republican Brian Kemp in an election marred by reports of voter suppression. Despite her position as a “rising star” in the Democratic party, Abrams chose to launch a voter rights campaign rather than join the infinity pool of Democrats vying for the presidency in 2020.

According to Heimans and Timms (2018) there are four types of leaders—castles, co-opters, cheerleaders, and crowd leaders—and three essential new power leadership capabilities: signal, structure, and shape. Throughout her bid for Governor and in her current Fair Fight 2020 campaign, Abrams has proven herself to be a crowd leader. Her campaign produced historic voter turnout among youth, women, and people of color that crossed party lines and nearly resulted in a win. 

Although Kemp “won,” Abrams empowered her base by refusing to formally concede. Instead, she signaled that while she lost according to the system, the system itself was broken. Her new Fair Fight 2020 campaign is creating structures and practices to enable participation and agency, while her choice to not run for president sets up the norms and direction of the crowd that go beyond her formal authority. In a time where so many politicians seem to be seeking the power of the presidency, Abrams is seeking power for the people.


Abrams, S. (n.d.). Fair fight 2020 [organization website]. Retrieved from:

Abrams, S. (2018). Lead from the outside: How to build your future and make real change. New York, NY: Picador Henry Holt & Company.

Heimans, J. & Timms, H. (2018). New power: How anyone can persuade, mobilize, and succeed in our chaotic, connected age. New York, NY: Anchor Books, Penguin Random House.

Posted by: Hanna Neuschwander | November 16, 2019

The coffee variety that wasn’t

A few years ago, a new variety of coffee tree was released for farmers. It yielded eight times as many coffee cherries as older varieties (the seeds inside the cherry are what we know as “coffee beans”). It should have been a blockbuster success.

Instead, within three years, farmers were ripping the new trees out of their fields and millions worth of investment had been lost. Why?

The coffee company that created the variety had rigorously tested to make sure it worked as expected under diverse conditions, figured out how to make it accessible, and educated farmers about its improved performance. It had convinced many thousands of people to buy  and plant the new variety. They had successfully helped farmers move through the first four stages of Rogers’ theory of innovation diffusion (2003): knowledge, persuasion, decision, and implementation.

But when it was time for the first harvest of the new trees, it turned out the cherries were much smaller than farmers were used to. It was a pain to harvest them, and they had to hire more labor to pick—a substantial unexpected cost. Farmers decided it wasn’t worth it. Innovation diffusion broke down at Rogers’ “confirmation” stage, and farmers went back to the old varieties (“replacement discontinuance”).

What happened? It turned out the company hadn’t thought to solicit broad feedback from farmers upfront. As a result, the variety had low compatibility with farmers’ practices and expectations—an innovation failure with massive implications for farmer livelihoods.

Rogers, E.M. (2003). Diffusion of innovation (5th ed.). New York, NY: Free Press.


Posted by: Silvia Pereida | November 11, 2019

Groupthink flaws and biases

Irving Janis developed “groupthink” as a theory to describe the process of dysfunctional thinking. Majority overrules individual thoughts, ideas, and conclusions. Chapter 8 explores the concept of groupthink, which has trickled into the realm of academia and popular culture. In group discussions people often agree with bosses, co-workers even though internally they disagree. Some of the reasons for a collective decision can be because of stressors like deadlines. Janis argues the symptoms of groupthink fit into three categories: overestimation, closed-mindedness, and pressure toward uniformity (Dainton & Zelley, 2019, p. 148).

In academia groupthink is looked at for its flaws in collective thinking and research. For example in a recent article, How groupthink is harmful in academia, it explains the flaws in scholarly research within a group of people who have the same set of world views or biases reflect in their research (Leef, 2019). An example of bias in academia happened when a Canadian professor had done a study that seemed to support his conclusion and no one disagreed. The academic assumption was that religious people are not open-minded. After reflecting on his study – the professor realized the sample group might have been skewed against religious people “No doubt it never occurred to us because not a single member of our lab had any religious inclinations at all” (Leef, 2019). To fix this, researchers and social scientists need to reach out to scholars in departments that do not hold dominant liberal views, in order to promote diverse dialogue (Leef, 2019).


Dainton, M., & Zelley, E.D. (2019). Group Communication. In Applying communication theory for professional life: a practical introduction (4th ed., pp. 143–150). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, Inc.

Leef, G. (2019, November 1). How Groupthink Is Harmful in Academia. Retrieved from


Posted by: Claudia Amezcua | November 9, 2019

Step it up Walmart

In Chapter 9 of Applying Communication Theory for Professional Life (Dainton & Zelley, 2019) talks about how an organization is transparent about its mission and values to its employees.

 Organizational communication was made evident in an article by Bryce Covert (Time Magazine) on the countless lawsuits against Walmart due to gender inequality. The response by Walmart was to launch a Women’s Resource Council and a Walmart Academies is geared to help anyone interested in moving up the ranks noting that 60 percent of those individuals are women. Walmart also noted that they have been using a culture, diversity and inclusion scorecard since 2016 that helps provide biannual reports on managers. They have added anyone who feels that they were treated unfairly deserve to have their claims heard in court, but the company plans to defend themselves against those claims.

Essentially, for an organization to thrive they must evolve with the times. What worked then may not be socially acceptable tomorrow especially with the current social political climate. 

Covert, B. (2019, May 9). Years Later, Women Still Fight Walmart Over Discrimination. Retrieved November 9, 2019, from

Sainato, M. (2019, February 18). Walmart facing gender discrimination lawsuits from female employees. Retrieved November 9, 2019, from

Posted by: adrianawollney | November 4, 2019

Fundraising Tactics: The Good, The Bad, and Theranos

Chapter 7 of New Power discusses what motivates people to give to a cause, also known as crowdfunding. As evidenced by the Star Citizen example, one of the most powerful ways to spark donations is to combine altruistic and economic reasons – those who donate get something (recognition, an item, etc.) in return as well as knowing they have done something beneficial for society. However, more impactful is offering the chance to participate in the organization/item development process.

Some “new power” companies are viewed with a lens of irony: “almost-a-million bosses ended up imposing less oversight than the old power construct of a handful of key financial backers …” (133).

The lack of supervision, in some instances, can also lead to transparency issues within new power companies. One example includes Elizabeth Holmes and her company, Theranos. Holmes founded Theranos intending to increase accessibility and affordability of medical care through blood-testing machines that could supposedly diagnose diseases through a couple of drops of blood (Bilton). She raised nearly $1 billion from investors – note: her fundraising methods align more directly with old power funding skills; however from my research, Theranos maintained a combination of old and new power. Holmes committed one of the most significant cases of fraud to-date. She refused to disclose the company’s difficulty in designing functional blood machines, sent false test results to customers and forced secrecy throughout operations. Theranos encapsulates the challenge to balance philanthropy and business and makes a case for keeping some traditional oversight in place.


Heimans, J., & Timms, Henry. (2018). New power: How power works in our hyperconnected world –and how to make it work for you (First ed.).

Bilton, N. (2019, February 21). “She never looks back”: inside Elizabeth Holmes’s chilling final months at Theranos. Vanity Fair. Retrieved from

News broke today of Gert Boyle passing away at the age of 95 years. The pioneering woman etched her name in Oregon and the sportswear industry, her quick wit, and fearless attitude carried her far in a male-dominated industry.

Gert Boyle immigrated to the U.S. from Germany escaping as Adolf Hitler came into power. She even foiled her attempted kidnapping during an invasion in her West Linn home at the age of 87 in 2010! According to the Oregonian Boyle ended up bruised up and when an officer asked her if she was alright she replied, “Everything was okay until you came in with that North Face Jacket.” Love that even in a horrible and scary situation she found the humor in life.

In chapter six of the textbook, we learned about cultural dimensions, as researched by Geert Hofstede who developed the theory. For this purpose, we are focusing on the fourth dimension that looks at “the relationship between biological sex and what is considered to be sex-appropriate behavior” (Dainton & Zelley, 2019, pp. 100-101). Masculine cultures use “the reality of biological sex” to create distinctions in roles for men and women. The U.S. is a masculine culture, as distinguished by the wage gap and the number of CEOs at the top being men. In an article by the Oregonian Gert Boyle pivoted Columbia Sportswear out of a bad place, reporting that after her husband died the company net sales rose to $2.47 billion in 2017. Boyle’s shares alone in the company were worth nearly $900 million in 2018, making her one of the wealthiest Oregonians (Duin, 2019).

Duin 2019:

“The world might never have known her talents but for the fact that her husband died so young,” Brown says. “She never gave up. She represents what I think when I think about Oregon: We are mavericks, innovators, creators.” (Duin, “Gert Boyle, ‘One Tough Mother’ who led Columbia Sportswear, dies at 95”, 2019)

Boyle went on to become the first woman inducted into the Sporting Goods Association of Fame (Duin,2019). She was also part of a campaign for the company – emulating the tough masculine persona in a male-dominated business world, something that she wasn’t an early fan of according to the Oregonian “she wasn’t convinced a male-dominated audience would appreciate glamour shots and such taglines”(Duin,2019).

Here is a link to the campaign video:

Besides saving Columbia Sportswear from the pits – Gert Boyle was also a mother as quoted in the Oregonian “some of the skills I learned as a mother and running a household were very transferable to the workplace – skills like urging people to get along with each other, and not spending money unless you have it” (Dui, 2019).

Cheers to a pioneer woman who knocked down the glass ceiling made a name for herself and took no crap from anyone. All while raising a family.


Duin, S. (2019, November 3). Gert Boyle, ‘One Tough Mother’ who led Columbia Sportswear, dies at 95. Retrieved November 3, 2019, from

Dainton, M., & Zelley, E. D. (2019). Culture. In Applying communication theory for professional life (4th ed., pp. 100–101). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

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