Publications

2020
Heath RG, Isbell MG. Theorizing Principled Collaboration. Communication Theory [Internet]. 2020. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Interorganizational collaboration is often at the crux of making decisions that impact and are impacted by inherent tensions of the human experience. Many theoretical models and literature reviews conceptualize collaboration through a teleological lens where being "good" is tied to accomplishing the collaboration's goals. In this essay, we broaden the understanding of collaboration problematizing what is meant by a good outcome. We propose collaboration is a principled activity with associated processes and outcomes and advance three arguments. First, that collaboration when viewed as a principled activity changes our understanding of collaborative processes and the way we might evaluate collaborative outcomes. Second, that dialogue operates as "ethical practice" and is woven through communication in collaboration that facilitates principles such as legitimacy, accountability, and shared power. Third, a principled lens of collaboration further develops the principled negotiation process, problematizing so-called objective criteria for decision making. This essay begins by attending to certain principles associated with collaboration processes. We review the experience of communication in collaboration as being oriented toward dialogue, interests, conflict, consensus, and solutions. Building on the ways in which communication is oriented to in collaboration, we use an empirical example to posit the importance of conceptualizing and evaluating collaboration as principled. By directing attention to principles as an important component of collaboration, scholars are positioned to recognize useful responses and the implications of those responses for collaborating.
Borda JL, Marshall B. Creating a Space to #SayHerName: Rhetorical Stratification in the Networked Sphere. Quarterly Journal of Speech [Internet]. 2020;106 (2). Publisher's VersionAbstract
This essay examines #SayHerName as a case study to analyze how circulation of the hashtag both challenged women’s erasure from #BlackLivesMatter discourse and motivated activists to center the stories of Black women killed in police interactions. We introduce the term rhetorical stratification to discern why the #SayHerName hashtag came to matter, and how it remained relevant in the national discourse about police brutality. To do so, we analyze how the #SayHerName movement evolved from the discursive to the material through policy briefs, social media circulation, and citizen journalism, which influenced news framing and initiated greater deliberation about this issue in both the networked public sphere and in local communities. We conclude that this hashtag invitation to digital activists engaged more nuanced perspectives about police brutality and policy reform, influenced the way Black women victims of police violence are covered in the news, and motivated community-based policy proposals addressing necessary changes in local policing.
2019
Reinig L. Cultural discourses of public engagement in energy system transformation. In: Hunt KP, Walker GB, Depoe SP Breaking boundaries: Innovative practices in environmental communication. SUNY Press ; 2019. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Analyzes efforts made by communities and policy makers around the world to push beyond conventional approaches to environmental decision making.

Breaking Boundaries analyzes efforts made by communities and policy makers around the world to push beyond conventional approaches to environmental decision making to enhance public acceptance, sustainability, and the impact of those decisions in local contexts. The current political climate has generated uncertainty among citizens, industry interests, scientists, and other stakeholders, but by applying concepts from various perspectives of environmental communication and deliberative democracy, this book offers a series of lessons learned for both public officials and concerned citizens. The contributors offer a broader understanding of how individuals and groups can get involved effectively in environmental decisions through traditional formats as well as alternative approaches ranging from leadership capacity building to social media activity to civic technology.
Borda JL. The Lasting Impacts of ‘The Opt Out Revolution’: Disciplining Working Mothers. In: Hallstein LO'B, O'Reilly A, Giles MV Routledge Companion to Motherhood. New York : Routledge ; 2019. pp. 343-352. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Interdisciplinary and intersectional in emphasis, the Routledge Companion to Motherhood brings together essays on current intellectual themes, issues, and debates, while also creating a foundation for future scholarship and study as the field of Motherhood Studies continues to develop globally. 

This Routledge Companion is the first extensive collection on the wide-ranging topics, themes, issues, and debates that ground the intellectual work being done on motherhood. Global in scope and including a range of disciplinary perspectives, including anthropology, literature, communication studies, sociology, women’s and gender studies, history, and economics, this volume introduces the foundational topics and ideas in motherhood, delineates the diversity and complexity of mothering, and also stimulates dialogue among scholars and students approaching from divergent backgrounds and intellectual perspectives.

This will become a foundational text for academics in Women's and Gender Studies and interdisciplinary researchers interested in this important, complex and rapidly growing topic. Scholars of psychology, sociology or public policy, and activists in both university and workplace settings interested in motherhood and mothering will find it an invaluable guide.

 

Reinig L, Sprain L. Note-taking as Communication Design: Promoting Democratic Processes. Journal of Applied Communication Research [Internet]. 2019;47 (6) : 648-666. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Whereas notes are ubiquitous to democratic meeting designs, note-taking practices within public participation processes remain taken-for-granted. We argue that note-taking is a communication practice that calls for cultivating expertise and critical reflexivity. Employing Communication as Design (CAD) we analyze communication design logics for note-taking active in public processes and the problems encountered enacting these design logics. CAD analysis illuminates four design logics underpinned by democratic values: notes as summary, data points, quotables, and critical voice. Building from this empirical analysis, democratic note-takers must be sensitive to the need for coordinating design logics to process goals; yet multiple design logics are often necessary to uphold multiple democratic values.
2018
Heath RG. Facilitating vulnerability: New Hampshire Listens convenes Blue and You. Journal of Public Deliberation [Internet]. 2018;14 (2) :6. Publisher's VersionAbstract
This study examines the on-going work of New Hampshire Listens, a convener of deliberative conversations, specific to their work with police-community relationships. Attending particularly to the facilitators and planners of New Hampshire “Blue and You” in a small city, the study found systemic practices of early stakeholder involvement in the planning, holding space for disparate views, promoting storytelling, and creating intimate physical spaces addressed the vulnerability felt by participants. These practices distributed power among stakeholders, aided in preparing participants for the conversation, and fostered neutrality in the forum. They provide several ideas for how deliberation practitioners and scholars might respond to the present polarizing political context.
Sprain L, Reinig L. Citizens Speaking as Experts: Expertise Discourse in Deliberative Forums. Environmental Communication [Internet]. 2018;12 (3) :357-369. Publisher's VersionAbstract
By analysing how participants use expertise discourse during environmental forums, this study examines how expert and lay knowledge are infused in deliberative democracy and the necessary distinctions between ways of knowing within deliberative epistemology. Through Grounded Practical Theory and Communication as Design, we analyse how expertise discourse contributes to and might undermine democratic deliberation through empirical analysis of transcripts from environmental forums in the United States. Our analysis describes three forms of expertise discourse used by participants within deliberative forums: institutional expertise, local expertise, and issue expertise. Expertise discourse is co-produced between participants, contributes to the information base, and most frequently comes in the form of institutional expertise. This discourse practice poses two problems for deliberative democracy: participants presenting information as an evident solution, and expertise discourse creating hierarchies that foreclose participation. We offer design recommendations for how to manage these problems within environmental forums.
Na’puti TR, Pezzullo PC, Sprain L, Reinig L. Engaging Publics through Climate MathLessons from Boulder’s 2016 Climate Action Plan. Journal of Argumentation in Context [Internet]. 2018;7 (3) :316 - 346. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Energy democracy hopes to foster community engagement and participation in shaping our transition from fossil fuels to a renewable energy-based economy. These considerations result from critiques by environmental justice, climate justice, and just transition advocates. Although many are sympathetic to energy democracy ideals, climate goals often are articulated in math terms. This essay defines the aforementioned key terms and asks: what are the limitations and possibilities of engaging publics when climate action solely is articulated in numbers? A compelling case study is the City of Boulder – recognized as a global leader in climate science and a national leader in innovative environmental planning. This essay shares work from 2016, when the City shared a climate action plan for public feedback, supported several public participation events, and passed climate action legislation goals. We argue a just transition and energy democracy ideals are hindered if we reduce climate goals to math.
2017
Heath RG, Isbell MG. Interorganizational Collaboration Complexity, Ethics, and Communication. Waveland Press Inc.; 2017 pp. 350. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Unique in their approach to unraveling the complexity of collaboration, Heath & Isbell introduce novice readers to foundational concepts centered around three key assertions:

Interorganizational collaboration is complex and warrants study as a specific type of leadership and communication

Successful collaborative relationships are grounded in a principled ethic of democratic and egalitarian participation

Interorganizational collaboration requires a specific communication language of practice

From a constructionist stance, the authors delineate interorganizational collaboration as influenced by increased interconnectedness, shifting organizational needs, and a changing workforce. Unlike group and organizational texts that approach collaboration from a functional or strategic perspective, this insightful text anchors collaboration in the assumption that democratic and principled communication fosters creative and accountable outcomes.

Readers will cultivate their ability to recognize and validate the needs of others, separate people's positions from underlying interests, listen for things never quite said, identify overlapping commonalities, build trust while respecting difference, navigate conflict, and plan for contingencies. They will be ready to participate in constructive collaborations and make the best decisions based on specific circumstances.

Heath R, Lewis N, Schneider B, Majors E. Beyond Aggregation: the "Wisdom of Crowds" meets dialogue in the case study of Shaping America's Youth. Journal of Public Deliberation [Internet]. 2017;13 (2) :3. Publisher's VersionAbstract
The present interpretive case study examined how an interorganizational partnership facilitating five large-scale public dialogues on childhood obesity, held throughout the United States, carried out its commitment to engage nonexperts in solutions. Leaders of the Shaping America’s Youth collaboration, believed the wisdom of crowds is facilitated through discussion. Accordingly this study has implications for deliberative practice as it provides a heuristic for eliciting the voice of nonexperts. In particular we describe empirically grounded dialogic principles that underlay a successful participation process: voice, diversity, transparency, preparedness, and neutrality. Additionally, the study documents perceived outcomes linking dialogic process and product by identifying changes in the rules and resources available to the public in light of the problem, including local and state policy level changes, and strengthened relationships and credibility with the media and funders. Finally, the case challenges theoretical assumptions about the wisdom of crowds as simply an aggregate of individually held knowledge.
2015
Heath RG, Isbell M. Broadening Organizational Communication Curricula: Collaboration as Key to 21st-Century Organizing. Management Communication Quarterly [Internet]. 2015;29 (2) :309-314. Publisher's VersionAbstract
An essay is presented on broadening organizational communication curricula in the 21st century organization. It suggests the need to refocus curricula to emphasize communication skills that will strengthen students' ability to handle collaborative work environment. The authors argue that praxis better serves the contingent world where collaboration takes place rather than prescriptive answers.
Borda JL. Lean In or Leave Before You Leave?: False Dichotomies of Choice and Blame in Public Debates about Working Motherhood. In: Reimer V, Sahagian S The Mother Blame-Game. Toronto, Canada: Demeter Press ; 2015. pp. 219-236. Publisher's VersionAbstract
The Mother-Blame Game is an interdisciplinary and intersectional examination of the phenomenon of mother-blame in the twenty-first century. As the socioeconomic and cultural expectations of what constitutes “good motherhood” grow continually narrow and exclusionary, mothers are demonized and stigmatized—perhaps now more than ever—for all that is perceived to go “wrong” in their children’s lives. This anthology brings together creative and scholarly contributions from feminist academics and activists alike to provide a dynamic study of the many varied ways in which mothers are blamed and shamed for their maternal practice. Importantly, it also considers how mothers resist these ideologies by engaging in empowered and feminist mothering practices, as well as by publicly challenging patriarchal discourses of “good motherhood.”
Borda J. Cultivating Community within the Commercial Marketplace: Blurred Boundaries in the “Mommy” Blogosphere. In: The Motherhood Business: Consumption, Communication, and Privilege. The University of Alabama Press ; 2015. pp. 134-163. Publisher's Version
2014
Molloy KA, Heath RG. Navigating Organizational Ideology Through Bridge Discourse. International Journal of Business Communication [Internet]. 2014;51 (4) :386-408. Publisher's VersionAbstract
The present interpretive research contributes to the increasing niche of studies that acknowledge spirituality and religion in organizations. The current study examines communication in the workplace as it is mediated by the organizational context. In particular, we explore how a faith-based organization navigated the seemingly incompatible ideologies of faith and business. First, we identify the ideological commitments and values that coexist for organizational members. Second, we argue that bridge discourse facilitated the coexistence of disparate ideological commitments and values. Specifically, we describe how three dominant discourses, (a) a spiritual-business discourse, (b) a theological-science discourse, and (c) a discourse of excellence, navigated ideological differences in a nonprofit, faith-based organization. The findings in this article have implications for future studies ranging from the pragmatic to the critical.
Milam JM, Heath RG. Participative Democracy and Voice: Rethinking Community Collaboration Beyond Neutral Structures. Journal of Applied Communication Research [Internet]. 2014;42 (4) :366-386. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Decision-making in community-based, interorganizational collaboration often influences educational, environmental, and other civic policies thereby constituting it as politically and socially consequential. As such, we rethink collaboration through the lens of participative democracy rather than as a neutral organizational structure or process. We sought to understand how participative democracy was hindered and accomplished in an interpretive case study of two community collaborations. Data indicate the normative processes and structures of communication practiced by stakeholders primarily deterred voice and participation by prioritizing information exchange, practicing invisible decision-making, and emphasizing harmonious relationships. These findings: (1) add to theories of interorganizational collaboration by establishing voice as both a discursive and political feature of shared decision-making; (2) provide empirical exemplars that extrapolate political and social implications from specific communication practices; and (3) inform the development of a heuristic to improve collaborative participation and increase political accountability. Flowing from these data, we recommend practitioners utilize the heuristic of VOICE—promoting visibility and ownership of decision-making processes, less emphasis on informing, and purposeful fostering of gracious contestation—ultimately delimiting expressive modes of communication that decrease participative democracy and political accountability.