A Long Look Back: An Analysis of 50 years of Organizational Communication Research

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Johny Garner
J. Parker Ragland
Megan Leite
Jordan Young
Gretchen Bergquist
Sydney Summers
Gentrie Pool
Samuel Taylor
Xi Tian
Eduardo Reyes
Micah Haynes
Trey Ivy


As a means of understanding the identity and heritage of organizational communication scholarship, we conducted a content analysis of 1,399 articles published in communication journals since 1964. Our findings demonstrate key turning points in organizational communication scholarship, trends in the development of knowledge, and areas in which this subfield can continue to grow in future endeavors.  While research has problematized power and has emphasized the constitutive nature of communication, more research is needed to explore alternative forms of organizing and to expand diversity scholarship beyond gender and nationality.  While research has grown more theoretically complex, work can still be done developing meso-level theories that highlight the role of communication in various organizing processes.  While qualitative methods have erased the dominance of quantitative methods, greater parity and an appreciation for how methods may inform each other would advance scholarly contributions.  While the number of studies conducted in organizations has grown, the percentage of studies using field work methods has declined, increasing the risk that research may miss important contextual cues.  We discuss the implications of these findings as a road map for new scholars wanting to understand what organizational communication has been and all scholars wanting to know what organizational communication can be.

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