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Organisational Listening: New Inter-departmental Seminar

Title of Seminar


Meghan LeaverSeminar Abstract

Informed by foundational communication theory derived from philosophy, psychology, sociology, democratic political theory, and other disciplines including the seminal work of James Carey, John Dewey, Mikhail Bakhtin, Martin Buber, Hans Georg Gadamer and others; the contemporary work of Susan Bickford, Nick Couldry, Stephen Coleman, recent texts such as Andrew Dobson’s Listening for Democracy, and Tanya Dreher’s studies of the voice of marginalised groups; and his own background in public communication practice before joining the academy, Jim Macnamara has a particular interest in organisational listening. As Bruce Bimber and colleagues note, organisations are central to life in contemporary industrialised and post-industrial societies – or what Couldry calls ‘complex’ societies. Citizens need to engage and communicate with organisations ranging from government departments and agencies and large corporations to NGOs, institutions, and local businesses and authorities every day. Under the auspices of public ‘communication’, these organisations develop and deploy a substantial ‘architecture of speaking’ through advertising, marketing communication, public relations, the Web, and so on. But do organisations listen? How, and how well, do they listen? What is the value of voice and what are the implications if organisations do not listen in our highly organised societies? These are the questions that Jim Macnamara is exploring in an international study of organisational listening that he is conducting in the UK, US and Australia. As part of a close collaboration with LSE, Jim will outline the aims and methodology of his study, and share some preliminary findings from his research including his views on the need for an ‘architecture of listening’ in organisations.

Biography of Speaker

Jim Macnamara PhD is Professor of Public Communication and Associate Dean (Engagement and International) of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at the University of Technology Sydney. Before joining UTS in 2007, Jim had a distinguished 30-year career in professional communication practice spanning journalism, public relations, and media and communication research. He is the author of 15 academic and professional books including ‘Public Relations Theories, Practices, Critiques’ (Pearson Australia, 2012), ‘The 21st Century Media (R)evolution: Emergent Communication Practices’ (Peter Lang, New York, 2010, 2nd edition 2014), and ‘Journalism and PR: Unpacking ‘Spin’, Stereotypes, and Media Myths’ (Peter Lang, New York, 2014).