Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2011

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Communication

First Advisor

Michele Jackson

Second Advisor

Timothy Kuhn

Third Advisor

Bryan Taylor

Abstract

Organizational communication and organizational technology scholars are grappling with a dual problem of boundaries. On the one hand, scholars are challenging boundaries to show how communication is more than epiphenomenal to our understandings of organization and how organizational dynamics are more than epiphenomenal to our understandings of technology. On the other hand, scholars are also taking boundaries more seriously to show how the materiality of organization and technology matters. This project offers a solution to address this dual problem of boundaries. In order to accomplish this, I articulate a variable ontology that helps scholars to challenge boundaries conceptually. I then combine this with an epistemology that theorizes a central role for boundaries in practice. Together, these address the dual problem of boundaries. I call this the "re-entanglement" logic. I then translate the re-entanglement logic into a framework for studying organizations called problem-centered organizing. To study problem-centered organizing, I provide a methodology that features a dual mode of inquiry, discovery and creative practice. Finally, I analyze a community planning project using my framework to show how problem-centered organizing occurs. My analysis shows how the re-entanglement logic builds on and extends existing approaches to theorizing the relationship between communication, organizations, and materiality.

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