SWG 05: Organization as Communication


, Université de Montréal, Canada
, University of Colorado at Boulder, USA
, Copenhagen Business School (CBS), Denmark
, Université du Québec à Montréal, Canada
, Université TÉLUQ Montréal, Canada

The field of organizational communication studies is located at the transdisciplinary intersection of organization studies and communication studies (Taylor et al., 2001). Grounded in the linguistic turn in the social sciences (Putnam & Pacanowsky, 1983), scholars of this field suggest drawing on communication as a primary mode of explanation of organizational phenomena (Deetz, 1994), thus fruitfully complementing other disciplinary accounts (e.g., from psychology or sociology) (Ashcraft et al., 2009).

In recent years, we perceive an increasing interest in organizational communication scholarship within management and organization studies. This development is partly driven by the emergence of a theoretical perspective that focuses on communication as constitutive of organization (often abbreviated to "CCO"; for recent overviews, see Brummans et al., 2014, or Cooren et al., 2011). In line with a relational epistemology (Cooren, 2012; Robichaud, 2006) and processual ontology (Schoeneborn, 2011), proponents of this view understand organizations primarily as phenomena that are continuously recreated, sustained and changed through communication (Cooren et al., 2011; Taylor & Van Every, 2000). This idea is based on the assumption that "communication does not merely express but also creates social realities" (Ashcraft et al., 2009: 4; see also Searle, 1995).


In turn, if organizations are understood first and foremost as communicative phenomena, insights from communication studies are likely to advance the study of organizations, as well (Putnam et al., 1996). Accordingly, the CCO view has paved the way for an increasing consideration of insights from communication studies in the neighboring field of organization studies in recent years (Kuhn, 2012).

Given the momentum of organizational communication as a disciplinary field and of the CCO perspective as a theoretical endeavor, we believe that the time is ripe for an EGOS Standing Working Group (SWG) 05 on "Organization as Communication". It is the aim of this SWG to connect more closely scholars from organization studies with the neighboring field of communication studies.

Moreover, this SWG offers a natural home to scholars who are interested more broadly in concepts like organizational discourse, narratives, rhetoric, or tropes. At the same time, the SWG allows to cover a timely topic area in management and organization studies that originates in North America, but to add a European/international flavor to it.


SWG 05 hosted a sub-theme at the EGOS Colloquia 2015–2017 and will feature a sub-theme at the EGOS Colloquia 2018–2020 – that all (in one way or another) deal with the constitutive and formative role of communication for organization and organizing.

For more information on "Organization as Communication", please see also our weblog: http://www.orgcom.org


  • Ashcraft, K.L., Kuhn, T.R., & Cooren, F. (2009): “Constitutional Amendments: ‘Materializing” Organizational Communication.” Academy of Management Annals, 3 (1), 1–64.
  • Brummans, B., Cooren, F., Robichaud, D., & Taylor, J.R. (2014): “Approaches in research on the communicative constitution of organizations.” In: L.L. Putnam & D. Mumby (eds.): SAGE Handbook of Organizational Communication, 3rd ed. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE, 173–194.
  • Cooren, F. (2012): “Communication theory at the center: Ventriloquism and the communicative constitution of reality.” Journal of Communication, 62 (1), 1 –20.
  • Cooren, F., Kuhn, T.R., Cornelissen, J.P., & Clark, T. (2011): “Communication, organizing, and organization: An overview and introduction to the special issue.” Organization Studies, 32 (9), 1149–1170.
  • Deetz, S. (1994): “The future of the discipline: The challenges, the research, and the social contribution.” In: S. Deetz (ed.): Communication Yearbook, Vol. 17. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE, 565–600.
  • Kuhn, T. (2012): “Negotiating the micro-macro divide: Thought leadership from organizational communication for theorizing organization.” Management Communication Quarterly, 26 (4), 543–584.
  • Putnam, L.L., & Pacanowsky, M.E. (1983): Communication and Organizations: An Interpretative Approach. Beverly Hills, CA: SAGE.
  • Putnam, L.L., Phillips, M., & Chapman, P. (1996): “Metaphors of communication and organizations.” In: S.R. Clegg & W.R. Nord (eds.): Handbook of Organization Studies. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE, 375–408.
  • Robichaud, D. (2006): “Steps toward a relational view of agency.” In: F. Cooren, J.R. Taylor & E.J.Van Every (eds.): Communication as Organizing: Empirical and Theoretical Explorations in the Dynamic of Text and Conversation. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum, 101–114.
  • Schoeneborn, D. (2011): “Organization as communication: A Luhmannian perspective.” Management Communication Quarterly, 25 (4), 663–689.
  • Searle, J.R. (1995): The Construction of Social Reality. New York, NY: Free Press.
  • Taylor, J.R., Flanagin, A.J., Cheney, G., & Seibold, D.R. (2001): “Organizational communication research: Key moments, central concerns, and future challenges.” In: S. Deetz (ed.): Communication Yearbook, Vol. 24. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE, 99–137.
  • Taylor, J.R. &, Van Every, E.J. (2000): The Emergent Organization: Communication as its Site and Surface. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

About the Coordinators

François Cooren is Professor and Chair of the Department of Communication at the Université de Montréal, Canada. His work has been published in the Academy of Management Annals, Communication Monographs, Communication Theory, Human Relations, Management Communication Quarterly, Organization, Organization Studies, and several other international peer-reviewed journals. He has been the former president of the International Communication Association (ICA). His research interests lie in the study of organizational communication, language and social interaction, and communication theory.

Timothy R. Kuhn is Associate Professor in the Department of Communication at the University of Colorado at Boulder, USA, and Visiting Fellow at Lund University, Sweden. His work has been published in the Academy of Management Annals, Academy of Management Review, Management Communication Quarterly, Organization, and Organization Studies, as well as other outlets. His research examines how knowledge, identities, ethics, and organizations themselves – particularly commercial firms – are constituted in communicative practices.

Dennis Schoeneborn is Professor of Organization, Communication and CSR at Copenhagen Business School, Denmark, and a Visiting Professor of Organization Studies at Leuphana University Lüneburg, Germany. His work has been published in Corporate Communications: An International Journal, Journal of Management Inquiry, Management Communication Quarterly, Organization Studies, and other peer-reviewed journals. His current research concerns the question of how communication constitutes emerging and rudimentary organizational phenomena.

Consuelo Vásquez is Assistant Professor in the Département de Communication Sociale et Publique at the Université du Québec à Montréal in Canada. Her work has been published in Communication Theory, Communication Measures and Methods, Discourse and Communication, Qualitative Research in Organization and Management, Scandinavian Journal of Management, and other international peer-reviewed journals. Her current research looks at the constitutive role of spacing and timing in project and volunteer organizations.

Nicolas Bencherki is Assistant Professor in the Department of Human Sciences, Arts and Communication, Université TÉLUQ Montréal, Canada. His work has been published, among others, in Management Communication Quarterly, Journal of Communication, and Communication Research and Practice, and was regularly presented, including at the International Communication Association and at the annual Colloquia of EGOS. His research focuses on the intersecting roles of organizational communication and materiality in the interactional constitution of membership, strategy and other conventional organizational issues in the setting of non-profit and community-based organizations, with a special interest for the concept of property.