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Fall Annotations

Anderson, M. & Benko, C.  (2010). Lattice ways to participate.  The corporate lattice: Achieving high performance in the changing world of work

(pp. 1-25). Boston, Massachusetts: Harvard Business Review Press.

Anderson and Benko discuss the concept of a lattice organization, which is an organization where individuals at all levels participate in information sharing, and what it means to be an employee, in an organization that operates in a transparent way, sharing information and encouraging participation for individuals at all different levels of an organization.  I was unfamiliar with the concept of a lattice organization prior to learning about the concept in Professor Shumate’s Foundations of Strategic Communication course. It was fascinating read as it made me realize how dysfunctional the organization I was working for was, and how that was largely due to the lack of participation by team members due to a rigid organizational structure.  Unlike the collaboration between managerial levels that occurs in a lattice organization, interaction between upper management and other employees was limited with little information sharing, along with an overall lack of transparency and collaboration, helping to keep the rigid corporate ladder in place.

Keywords: organizational structure, transparency, organizational culture, engagement, collaboration

LO3:  address complex challenges by collaboratively leading teams across disciplines, distances, and sectors.


Benko, C.  (2011, March 16).  The lattice that has replaced the corporate ladder.  Forbes

Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/2011/03/16/corporate-lattice-ladder-leadership-managing-hierarchy.html#5777b7903228

This article was a very impactful read as it was the first time that I saw the term “lattice” as applied to an organization.  I have always heard about the “corporate ladder” and as someone who has never worked in a large corporation, I just thought there was having a corporate ladder and not having a corporate ladder.  The lattice however, describes a flatter organizational structure as compared to the ladder and indicates a company that supports more fluid information flow, collaboration and transparency. These qualities are very important to me in being professionally and personally satisfied, and this article gives me some guideposts to use in the job search in hopes of finding a company or a corporation that is a good cultural fit. 

Keywords: organizational structure, collaboration, engagement, performance 

LO4:  apply communication-centered scholarship in order to strengthen communication effectiveness. 


Bos, N., Cheshin, A., Nan, N., Olson, J.S., & Shami, S.  (2004). In-group/out-group effects in distributed teams: An experimental simulation.

Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/2011/03/16/corporate-lattice-ladder-leadership-managing-hierarchy.html#5777b7903228

In this article, research shows that groups form when teams are partially distributed, meaning that some members work remote and some members work together.  Referring to these groups as in-groups and out-groups, the article uses communication theory to develop hypotheses for an experiment. As a reader, it was easy to relate to the situations they describe as “in-groups” and “out-groups” as these are something we have all been dealing with our whole lives and the reality is, it is not just about friendship but very much relevant to workplace relationships and to team functioning.  As a manager myself, keeping this in mind is important as the technology methods and communication channels I choose for distributed teams I work with, will affect the relationships and the trust levels within that team. 

Keywords: distributed teams, groups, collaboration technology, communication channels

LO3:  address complex challenges by collaboratively leading teams across disciplines, distances, and sectors. 

LO5:  critically analyze messages.


Cornelissen, J.  (2017). Corporate identity, branding and corporate reputation.  Corporate communication: A guide to theory and practice. 

(5th ed., pp. 84-106).  London, England: SAGE. 

This chapter from Joep Corenelissen’s book, Corporate Communication: A Guide to Theory and Practice, focuses on the subject of Corporate Identity, Branding and Corporate Reputation, subjects I am particular interested in because they are ones that I engage with in a professional capacity.  I have always known that a corporate brand is relevant to a corporate reputation, but this chapter highlights the concept of “identity,” which is a word that I rarely use when I am discussing brands.  The chapter was helpful to me as it articulated and supported, with the use of theory, the importance of brand identity that I am often telling my clients who I help to build brands for. The biggest assertion of my approach is articulated near the end of the chapter when Cornelissen is speaking to the importance of having a strong brand, as it will “Give them a competitive edge in communications with internal and external stakeholders” (Cornelissen, 2017, pg. 104).  Having my brand consultation businesses practices supported by coursework reading makes me feel more confident in the work that I do.

Keywordscorporate branding, corporate identity, reputation, strategy, image, organization, organizational identity 

LO4: This relates to learning outcome four as the communicated-centered scholarship shared in the chapter, allowed me to realize that I have been effectively communicating with my clients.  It also made me aware of how I can strengthen my communication effectiveness with my clients by further drawing on scholarship to learn in the process while also further supporting my approach. 


Cummings, J.N., & Kiesler, S.  (2002). What do we know about proximity and distance in work groups?  A legacy of research. In Hinds, P. &

Kiesler, S. (Eds.), Distributed work (pp. 57-80).  Cambridge, Massachusetts: The MIT Press.

This article showcases research findings concluding that distributed groups are most successful when there is a grounding effect from team members having been in proximity to each other, either when they started to work together or when they started to work together on a project.  Proximity leads to more effective teamwork, facilitating grounding and increasing group identity, through things such as spontaneous communication and direct feedback that are more likely to occur when you are physically close to other people. The big lesson here is that distributed groups will work more effectively together if they have experience working together in person.  Therefore, when managing projects and overseeing teams, one needs to be mindful of team history and also of the channels by which they are communicating. If it is not going to be face-to-face, then technologies need to be used that will help to alleviate the effects of distance on work groups.   

Keywords: proximity, distributed teams, team work, group performance

LO3:  address complex challenges by collaboratively leading teams across disciplines, distances, and sectors

LO4:  apply communication-centered scholarship in order to strengthen communication effectiveness. 


Dabirian, A., Diba, H., & Kietzmann, J.  (2017). A great place to work!? Understanding crowdsourced employer branding.  Business Horizons,

60(2), 197-205doi:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bushor.2016.11.005 

The authors of this study did something used IBM Watson, an Artificial Intelligence (AI) system to identify value propositions that employees think about in looking for or being part of an employer and that employer brand.  They did this through having Watson analyze reviews from Glassdoor, a crowdsourced platform for assessing employers. This is so relevant to being any person in today’s workplace, as it shows how technology has changed the way individuals assess their current, future or past workplaces and also, how technology can be used to help companies assess their employer brand and positioning to employees.  As someone who is actively looking for a job, it is good to know that sites such as Glassdoor.com can be a resource in learning about companies I may be interviewing with, and also that keeping an employer brand in mind is extremely important in finding the right fit for a future work environment.

Keywords: crowdsourced, web site, employer brand, technology, culture, jobsearch, values

LO3:  address complex challenges by collaboratively leading teams across disciplines, distances, and sectors. 

LO5:  critically analyze messages.


Freihaut, R.,  Oldham, J., Reno, J., & Veil, S.R.  (2014). Online activists vs. Kraft foods: A case of social media hijacking.  Public Relations

Review, 41, 103-108.

This article highlights the extent to which social media can be manipulated and used to influence.  In looking at a case where activists generated a hoax against Kraft foods, in order to motivate Kraft into making a change in their ingredient use.  Organizations need to be aware of, and to be monitoring the social media channels that consumers use and to be proactive in responding to messages directed at or about their organization.  I do not often work with social media but I do work with brands and this makes me re-think how I should be guiding my clients when we talk about brand as how one responds to social media is part of a brand. 

Keywordsactivists, social media, issue management, activists

LO6:  create and deliver elegant messages appropriate to the audience, purpose, and context.


Gossett, L, M. & Kilker, J.  (2006). My job sucks: Examining counterinstiutional web sites as locations for organizational member voice,

dissent, and resistance.  Management Communication Quarterly, 20 (1), 63-90.

This article highlighted the use of counterinstitutional websites by employees and former employees, highlighting a development in research around Hirschman’s typology indicating that voice and exit should no longer be considered mutually exclusive. RadioShackSucks.com was the site used in the research and analysis. The key takeaway from this reading, is that employees were using a counterinstitutional website as a way to communicate with the organization without communicating directly with them. “They engaged in articulated dissent through the use of an unofficial channel (Gosset, 2006, pg. 82).”  The article shows that it can be important for organizations to be aware of and engage in counterinstitutional websites, as well as work on the channels they have internally for employees to express themselves. In my experience, smaller companies that are behind the times, such as one I recently worked for, are first learning about counterinstitutional websites. The article serves as a reminder of the importance of being mindful of company culture as well as the fact that technology changes the way organizations and their employees interact and function. 

Keywords: voice, dissent, counterinstiutional websites

LO1: articulate connections between the interdisciplinary field of communication and the central themes of managing complexity, collaborative leadership, and elegant communication.  

LO4:  apply communication-centered scholarship in order to strengthen communication effectiveness. 


Meister, M., O’Connor, A., & Shumate, M.  (2008). Walk the line: Active moms define corporate social responsibility.  Public Relations

Review, 34, 343-350. 

This article discusses the relationship between “Active Moms,” which are moms that have an active decision making role in the household, and corporations practicing in a socially responsible manner.  In looking at how Active Moms evaluate corporate social responsibility and how that impacts their opinions and purchasing habits, this article emphasizes the importance of considering stakeholders in making decisions as an organization and the fact that consumer’s behavior will impact the financial success of an organization.  As a person in the business world, it also serves as a reminder that social responsibility and corporate social responsibility practices need to be addressed within the business and as a component of marketing.   

Keywordscorporate social responsibility, activism, stakeholders, social values

LO2: demonstrate the ability to assess complex organizational environments and achieve communicative goals.  


Olson, M. & Olson, S.  (2014). How to make distance work work.  Interactions, March-April 2014, 29-35.  doi:10.1145/2567788 

This article highlights the prevalence of distance work that exists today and the research conducted to explain how to make it successful as well as the challenges that accompany it.  Distance matters and knowing how to work around distance through adapting personally as well as by adapting technologies, is relevant in choosing the technologies that you use to engage with those who are at a distance and also in the additional tools that are used to aid in collaboration while engaging in distance work.  As teams are increasingly distributed, the article offers helpful tips, such as knowing how to assess the situations when it is important for a team to meet in person, that I know I will be keeping in mind as I continue to engage in and sometimes manage distance work.

Keywordsdistance, distributed teams, technology, communication, tools

LO3:  address complex challenges by collaboratively leading teams across disciplines, distances, and sectors.   


Perry, M.  (2003). Distributed Cognition.  In J.M. Carroll (Ed.) HCI Models, theories, and frameworks toward a multidisciplinary science, (pp.

193-223).  San Francisco, CA: Morgan Kaufmann Publishers.

This article reviewed distributed cognition, which is a research approach built on the concept that interaction between individuals produces knowledge, as a way to understand computer supported cooperative work (CSCW) focusing on social organization in the workplace and taking context into consideration as an influential element.  It is relevant because it is a newer area of study that I think will increasingly be more important. As someone who often works with designers, reading it made me think about the various contributions to design or inputs, the output and what happens in between. 

Keywords:  distributed cognition, theory, CSCW, collaborative technologies

LO1: articulate connections between the interdisciplinary field of communication and the central themes of managing complexity, collaborative leadership, and elegant communication.  

LO4:  apply communication-centered scholarship in order to strengthen communication effectiveness. 


Plowman, Kenneth D. & Wilson, C.  (2018). Strategy and tactics in strategic communication:  Examining their intersection with social

media use.  International Journal of Strategic Communication, 12(2), pp. 125-144.  doi:10.1080/1553118X.2018.1428979

In the abstract of this article, Plowman & Wilson state that “social media use should be guided by strategic planning and social media tactics should revolve around conversations” (2018, pg. 125), and these are huge and influential takeaways for me as someone who helps companies tell stories through social media.  It is not enough to just participate in social media, there has to be strategy behind the tactical execution that works towards building a relationship with the intended receiver of the communication. Using two-way communication and a strategy that is unique to an organization is imperative to an effective social media strategy.  The emphasis on social media as strategic needs to be part of all conversations when working with clients as a brand builder and a brand manager. 

Keywords: social media, strategy, strategic communication, 

LO2: demonstrate the ability to assess complex organizational environments and achieve communicative goals. 

LO6:  create and deliver elegant messages appropriate to the audience, purpose, and context.


Shumate, M.  (2018, October).  My job sucks. How internal communication practices may influence your brand 2.  [Online lecture video].

Retrieved from: https://canvas.northwestern.edu/courses/77891/pages/my-job-sucks-how-internal-communication-practices-may-influence-your-brand-2

In this talk, Michele shares examples that show the importance of employers being mindful of how their employer brand is being represented and how counterinstitutional sites are being used.  As someone who works with companies, often small companies, the existence of these types of sites are unknown to many of leadership members of these companies. At my previous employer, we just set-up a glassdoor.com page and there were multiple reviews that were terrible but there was no protocol in place to respond to them on the employer side.  For me, it is a lesson that employers need to be aware but also have a system in place for how to reply to and interact with their company page(s) on such sites. As Michele states, the lecture is about “how internal communication practices influence your employer brand,” As a communications professional that works with companies to build brands, this is an important message to disseminate and iterate for all brands that I work with.

Keywordscrowdsourced, web site, employee feedback, employer brand, technology

LO3:  address complex challenges by collaboratively leading teams across disciplines, distances, and sectors. 

LO5:  critically analyze messages.


University Of Michigan.  (2000, December 13). Working together in “war rooms” doubles teams’ productivity, University Of Michigan

researchers find.  [Press release] Retrieved from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2000/12/001206144705.html

In the study highlighted in this press release, teams of workers were organized in different physical spaces and then evaluated to see how productivity was impacted by office arrangement.  The study shows that physical office structure does affect productivity. Specifically, those in “war rooms,” or areas where team members were working very closely together in an open space, created for a well functioning team with a high level of problem solving capabilities and productivity as compared to those teams that had more physical distance between them.  This study highlights the importance of teams being colcated in order for them to effectively communicate with each other and be the most productive as a team. I once worked on a team in one location and then moved, working remotely while the remainder of the team worked together and I found that things quickly fell apart. With more and more teams having physical distance between them, it is important to keep in mind that there is little that can replace physical proximity when a resolution is needed.       

Keywords: distance, coworkers, collaboration, colocation

LO4:  apply communication-centered scholarship in order to strengthen communication effectiveness.  

LO3:  address complex challenges by collaboratively leading teams across disciplines, distances, and sectors. 


Winig, Laura.  (2012). Social Media and the Planned Parenthood/Susan G. Komen for the Cure Controversy.  HKS N. 1975.0.  Boston, MA:

Harvard University. 

This case study highlighted the case of two organizations during what I would classify as a communication crisis and how each of them responded to the crisis.  While I realize this was a case study rather than an article that shared academic theory or findings, it is relevant because of the practice of analyzing a case study and asserting an opinion using critical thinking as well as learned theory.  These are practical skills for the workplace. It can be challenging to put theory into practice in real life and this is only amplified during a crisis. The case study shows examples of communication ineffectiveness versus communication effectiveness during crisis and is a good reference point to keep when ever in a future communication crisis.   

Keywordscrisis communication, social media, media, controvers

LO4: apply communication-centered scholarship in order to strengthen communication effectiveness.