Posted by: strawbrae | October 27, 2019

understanding of Organizational Assimilation

In Chapter 3 of Applying Theory for Professional Life, the authors talked about organizational assimilation which makes me think deeply about convergence. The four stages of how organizational newcomers being a “real” team member are vocational anticipatory socialization, anticipatory socialization, encounter and metamorphosis. In the process of assimilation, the team leader plays an important role.

Whether you realize that when a person becomes a team leader (or manager), he or she can’t help but do one thing – bringing their team members closer to themselves, including approaching his or her own way of thinking and working, personal requirements in completing missions, even interests and so on. Otherwise, when a newcomer got a task from boss, the thing that almost everyone would be concerned about firstly is “what my boss wants?” to complete the job illustriously. The potential principle of this task would be leader’s satisfaction. Therefore, the biggest difficulty as a team leader is to avoid this misunderstanding to fulfill organizational expectations. After reading the article Expanding the Scope of Strategic Communication: Towards a Holistic Understanding of Organizational Complexity, it strengthens my thoughts of strategic communication is a process of an organizational members contribute together, but not only a top down management.




Posted by: alysonlmorris | October 22, 2019

Implicit Bias or Just Bias?

Early this morning, the HuffPost’s Business section released an article reviewing a training seminar at the well-known accounting firm Ernst & Young (EY). The seminar, entitled Power-Presence-Purpose or PPP was envisioned to provide powerful leadership skills for women in the workplace. The seminar which took place back in June of 2018 recently underwent scrutiny when contents of the leadership course surfaced from a former employee and attendee of the seminar. The general take-home message seemed to emphasize women’s need to cater behavior and appearance in the workplace to gain leadership within the company. EY did not agree with the characterization of the seminar in the press release from HuffPost. However, EY did state that they were no longer offering the same training any longer (Peck, 2019).

By disagreeing with the article it would seem that EY’s believes their construction of the empowerment seminar was an implicit or unintentional bias. The organizers were simply interpreting the situation through learned behaviors from past experiences. But the question to pose then is where does the line between implicit and intentional bias fall. Implicit bias is one that is automatic and often not consciously thought of, but in the case of the EY seminar, this curriculum was thoroughly thought through prior to presenting and still displayed an inherent bias towards women in the workplace.


Peck, E. (2019). [Blog] HuffPost. Available at: [Accessed 21 Oct. 2019].

Posted by: dridgeway | October 21, 2019

What is Uncertainty Reduction Theory?

In Chapter 3 of Applying Theory for Professional Life, Uncertainty Reduction Theory (URT) illuminates how individuals can utilize communication to overcome worries when faced with interactions with others. The theory aims to explain why, when, and how people experience uncertainty. There are three main assumptions within the URT framework; 1) reduce uncertainty that people have, 2) uncertainty is experienced regularly, and is unpleasant, 3) the key to reducing uncertainty is communication.

According to Berger (1979), individuals are inclined to reduce uncertainty if you will be seeing the person again, or if there is an incentive value, or if the person provides a different expectation than assumed. There are two types of uncertainty; cognitive and behavioral. Cognitive uncertainty involves situations where an individual is “unsure what to think about someone or something” (Dainton & Elaine D., 2019), whereas Behavioral encompasses situations. There are three communication strategies for reducing URT; interactive – going to the source for answers, passive – discovering the answers for oneself, and active – seeking information from someone else. The best strategy is dependent on the individual and situation.

Understanding URT can allow communication through various channels to reduce uncertainty within oneself and others. “Uncertainty predictably decrease when nonverbal immediacy, verbal messages, self-disclosure, shared similarities, and shared social networks increase.” (Dainton & Elaine D., 2019) The next time someone wonders about what to wear, or if someone has the same question, know there is a theory explaining the why, how, and when of experiencing uncertainty.

Dainton, M., & Elaine D., Z. (2019). Applying Communication Theory for Professional Life: A Practical Introduction (4th ed.). Los Angeles, CA: SAGE Publications, Inc.

In the chapter, Explaining Theories of Culture, in our text, Applying Communication Theory for Professional Life (Dainton & Zelley, 2005), the authors explain Hofstede’s cultural dimension of “individualism-collectivism.”  Using this aspect of Hofstede’s theory to think about the new movie, American Factory (2019), is both instructive and entertaining.  

This documentary film, the first release from Barack and Michelle Obama’s production company, Higher Ground Productions, follows the story of the rebirth, retooling and reeducation of a shuttered factory and its employees in a down and out suburb of Dayton, Ohio.  The film predictably begins with brimming optimism of both management and labor, as a Chinese windshield manufacturer, Fuyao, comes to town promising new jobs and a renaissance of the rust belt economy. The high hopes quickly fade, as the cultural hurdles continue to grow and the combination of the two vastly different corporate cultures painfully grinds to a halt.  

The American workers are firmly placed on the “individualism” side of the continuum.  Failing to adhere to the new workplace regulations and priorities, they have a difficult time accepting change, especially because they feel left out of the decision making processes. The Chinese managers, steeped in self-sacrifice and conformity, are baffled at what they see as laziness and ingratitude of the American worker.  Contempt grows and profits fall. The movie is a tragicomic tale of seemingly insurmountable cultural barriers and a stark warning to all workers of the coming of the machine age. Instilling more resilience in the American labor force is necessary and urgent, as we move into an uncertain future.   


Bognar, S (Producer) & Bognar, S. & Reichart, J (Directors). (2019). America Factory. [Motion Picture]. United States: Higher Ground Productions. 

Dainton, M., & Zelley, E. D. (2005). Applying communication theory for professional life: a practical introduction. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, Inc.

Posted by: MJ | October 21, 2019

Elevating Critical Communication Theory

In Chapter 2 of Applying Communication Theory for Professional Life (Dainton & Zelley, 2019), the authors discuss various approaches to theory development and research. One of the more substantial portions of the chapter deals with distinctions between social scientific and humanities traditions. This section implores the reader to consider most communication research as falling on a spectrum between the two traditions; however, there is a small mention about the “critical approach” to communication that requires the reader to seek an outside article (Craig, 1999) to learn more about the concept (Dainton & Zelley, 2019).

The “Critical Communication Theory” section of Communication theory as a field (Craig, 1999) describes communications approaches with the objective of social change. Where humanistic and social scientific approaches may prioritize understanding or operationalizing the world as-is, critical communication theories primarily question the status quo and universality of the current. In some ways, this approach politicizes and challenges theories and studies (and on a grander scale, scholarship practices as a whole) that are often taken at face-value as objective or neutral (Craig, 1999).

The question, then, is if Critical Communication theory (or more generally, critical communication as a belief system) should be treated as an equal counterpart to social science and the humanities? If not, where exactly does it stand in relation to the other two, more commonly-recognized belief systems called out by Dainton & Zelley? While it was briefly referred to as a “special group” of theories in Chapter 2 (Dainton & Zelley, 2019), this set of theoretical beliefs may provide an even richer perspective to discourse around communication theory as it applies to social change.



Craig, R. T. (1999). Communication Theory as a Field. Communication Theory9(2), 119–161. doi: 10.1111/j.1468-2885.1999.tb00355.x

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


Posted by: rachelyangl | October 21, 2019

Communicating And Listening To Our Brains

October 12thmarked the 21stanniversary of the death of Matthew Shepard, a gay 21-year-old University of Wyoming student, whose murder became one of the most notorious anti-gay hate crimes in American history. The high-profile felony has since spawned an activist movement by the youngster’s parents, who founded the Matthew Shepard Foundation.

In seemingly a blink of an eye, activists around the world have been fighting against prejudice and bias for decades. Till this day, the effort to push for equality continues in tune with the times. The rationale is that everyone should be valued for what they are capable of, and not who they are. For many, the stigma against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex exists partly because of an automatic association with negative attitudes that takes place in the brain, also known as implicit bias. These evaluations happen outside one’s conscious awareness- often are deep social values and beliefs that have embedded within one’s upbringing. 

Unfortunately, the intrapersonal predetermination will affect the way someone perceives messages and in turn behaves- which will attribute to how something appeals to the audience. As communicators, we must understand this cognitive process when trying to make an influence. However, researchers argued there may be a way around implicit bias by identifying vulnerable decision points, a notion that explains situations in which increased disproportionality will tend to occur.

While defending for minorities and discrimination plays a significant role in shaping our future, strategists must identify one’s vulnerability, as well as take into account the effects of stereotypes, prejudice and bias when drafting communication methods. 

Posted by: peninsular | October 18, 2019

The Future Is Female?

This morning, NASA astronauts Christina Koch and Jessica Meir set their space suits to battery mode and ventured outside the International Space Station orbiting the earth. The historic first all-woman space walk offers a unique opportunity for the organization to use messaging to promote its work and inspire a new generation of young girls to pursue STEM careers. 

Except this occasion comes on the heels of last spring’s aborted spacewalk when two female astronauts learned at the last minute that there was only one suit on board configured to fit a woman. Despite NASA’s intentional efforts to be inclusive, unintended and implicit associations about the types of bodies that need a spacesuit spread into the planning process, turning it into a NASA failure.  

That’s why it’s so important for strategic communicators to bring awareness of implicit associations and biases to our processes. To communicate succinctly and powerfully, implicit associations can serve as shorthand for the messages we want our audiences to understand. We all know Energizer batteries last a long time thanks to a 20-year-old ad campaign associating the brand with the active and fecund bunny. However, these associations are rarely so benign. Stereotypical and negative associations can easily infect our messaging and strategic planning. Even when we’re trying to challenge these biases, just as NASA was when it first planned the all-woman spacewalk, organizations communicate beliefs through processes and outcomes as well.

Posted by: Hanna Neuschwander | October 15, 2019

How does a change mission affect the way we view strategic communications?

Whether we are talking about the companies we work for or the governments we are citizens of, organizations channel a significant portion of human activity. Collectively, organizations are responsible for some of the most egregious harms we face (climate change, mass extinction, rape used as a weapon of war, etc.); but they are also at the nexus of efforts of redress. By their nature, organizations organize and in so doing, channel effort, intelligence, and shared values toward their aims.

For a modern organization seeking to instigate changes at levels ranging from individual behavior to how an entire sector (public or private) functions, strategic communication is non-optional. It is “an essential lever for changing the way people think, feel, act and behave” (Omidyar Group, 2018).

Traditional definitions of “strategic communication” are informative, but given the stakes, change-oriented communications must be more than just “narrowly defined around specific managerial problems, such as improving organizational performance [or] selling more products” (García, 2012). Nor is it enough for them to simply “maintain a healthy reputation for the communication entity in the public sphere” (Holtzhausen and Zerfass, 2015), or to be merely successful (e.g., generate buzz).

Omidyar (2018) draws on recent shifts in the development/philanthropic sectors toward the rigorous use of theory of change and logic models to add the requirement that change-oriented strategic communications be “performed with an end output and outcome that tangibly connects to the mission, program goals and objectives” (2018).

When the goal is change, “good intentions are not enough” (Ferris, 2016).



Ferris, J. M. 2016. “Is This a New Golden Age of Philanthropy? An Assessment of the Changing Landscape.” Voluntary Sector Review 7 (3): 315–24.

García, C. 2012. “Using Strategic Communication for Nation-Building in Contemporary Spain: The Basque Case.” International Journal of Strategic Communication 6 (3): 212–31. doi:10.1080/1553118x.2012.678523.

Holtzhausen, D. R., & Zerfass, A. (2015a). Strategic communication: Opportunities and challenges of the research area. In D. R. Holtzhausen & A. Zerfass (Eds.), The Routledge handbook of strategic communication (pp. 3–17). New York, NY: Routledge.

Omidyar Group. 2018. Fine Tuning: The Art and Science of Integrating Strategic Communications [white paper]. Washington, DC: Author.

Posted by: Alex Peery | November 27, 2017

What does the future look like for visual journalism?

Nicole Smith Dahmen makes the case that a visual restorative narrative can be a sustaining value for the future of visual journalism. She posits that this narrative-style is able to go beyond the scope of what can be provided by the person on the street. While compelling, it seems unrealistic that this style will be successful in the current social news climate.

The main reason for this exists by looking at the margin. Visual reporting is costly, typically for the in-depth nature of the work described in Dahmen’s study. The study cites the Chicago Sun-Times sacking of their entire 28-person photography staff. There is no doubt that photojournalist will produce stronger photographs than the average, untrained journalist. Newspapers don’t always have the luxury of large payrolls. Beyond this, the instant access to social media and others such public platforms makes it so much easier to outsource visual elements to the public.

The hurricane in Puerto Rico, including the ongoing recovery, are an excellent example. Consider this well known photo by Alejandro Garcia Padilla, former Governor of Puerto Rico:


(source in link above)

The photograph is newsworthy and covers an ongoing story of disaster recovery. It was also posted for free and widely picked up by many news outlets. It is hard to see where photojournalists will be able to overcome the access to free content that technology provides.

There is a new genre of journalism in town, and it’s been termed the “restorative narrative.”  After reading Images of Resilience: The case for Visual Restorative Narrative by Nicole Smith Dahmen, I think that visual storytelling has the potential of being very impactful when it comes to social change.  Dahmen comments that “journalism has a responsibility not just to report the news but also to contribute to civic engagement for an informed populace and functioning democracy (94).”  For those segments of the population with a lower socioeconomic status who may not be inclined to read the news on a regular basis, learning of current events through visual storytelling may be the key to engage those groups of people.  Or bring light to issues that may not have been heard otherwise.

One concern that Dahmen has of the “restorative narrative” is that it has “the potential to intrude on private moments and to exploit subjects (102).”  There a fine line between sharing a powerful, intimate story and exploiting someone for personal gain which should be discussed further.  I also have to ask, will these images actually cause people to act or will society move on to the next big news story?

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