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Academic Senate Awards

Prior Year Recipients

2014-15 Faculty Research Lecturer Award

Linda Putnam - Communication

The 2014-15 Faculty Research Lecturership, the 60th since the creation of the award in 1955, is awarded to Professor Linda Putnam. The Faculty Research Lecturer is the highest honor that UCSB bestows on a member of its faculty. Professor Putnam has been a Professor in the Department of Communication at UCSB since 2007. After receiving her Ph.D. in Speech Communication from the University of Minnesota, Putnam held appointments at Purdue University and Texas A&M University before arriving at UCSB. She is widely recognized as one of the world's leading scholars in organizational communication, and even regarded as the most influential organizational communication scholar over the past thirty years.

Professor Putnam's research on organizational communication, conflict negotiation, and bargaining is nationally and internationally known and has been recognized by numerous associations. She has also held countless service positions that highlight her national and international reputation, including the presidencies of three associations—the International Communication Association, the Council of Communication Associations, and the International Association of Conflict Management. As a whole, her record of research, service, and teaching is truly astounding. Her influence also extends well beyond the Communication field, integrating the work in organizational communication with the work in management and organizational studies. The scope of her international reputation is evident in the lifetime awards that she has received, including a research award from the International Association for Conflict Management, a career productivity award from the International Communication Association, and a career service award from the Academy of Management Association.

Putnam's career productivity – which includes 12 books, 51 articles, and 82 chapters (not including essays and proceedings, etc.) — is truly remarkable. These articles are also published in top tier national and international journals. What is more important than the quantity of articles and books, however, is the quality and impact of her work. Her award-winning 1983 book, Communication and organization: An interpretive approach (co-edited with Michael Pacanowsky) is credited as being responsible for the interpretive turn in the field, which shifted the study of organizations as "communicative structures" to a focus on organizational sense-making and the everyday experiences of individuals in the workplace. Her chapter "The interpretive perspective: An alternative to functionalism" won the National Communication Association's Charles Woolbert Award, which is given to research that has "stood the test of time," has become the stimulus for new communication research. This chapter, among many other pieces of her work over her career, helped move the research from a functionalist only perspective to scholarship that recognizes the value of interpretive and critical research in organizational communication.

Over the years, she has become the most well-known communication scholar in the area of negotiation. Her work is characterized as being highly theoretical, socially meaningful (i.e., having societal implications), programmatic, and novel in terms of its perspective, scope, erudition and attention to detail. Professor Putnam is a true "change agent." Her work on conflict and negotiation in organizational settings has been shaped by both empirical and conceptual pieces. She can envision new theoretical connections that change the ways that scholars think about their research—a contribution that has characterized her career.

Putnam has developed a strong communication-based theoretical focus recognized as unique among negotiation and bargaining scholars. Her work on conflict framing, discourse, narrative analysis, argumentation, and bounded emotionality in organizations has been recognized as among the very best in the field. She has shown, more than anyone, how language forms a lens for understanding the complexities of negotiation in organizational contexts. She pioneered the coding of communication processes in negotiation by using a wide array of qualitative and quantitative research methods. Her development of a systems interaction approach to negotiation spearheaded the study of cycles, phases, and sequences of messages and tactics that evolve in bargaining processes over time. This work, while introduced in the 1980s, is still prevalent and widely used by scholars in management, psychology, and communication studies. Her studies of discourse analysis in negotiation—an arena of research that crosses linguistic, literary, management and communication studies—are classics; they examine the micro-processes and nuances of speaking used to manage turns in the negotiation process. As one external reviewer wrote, "Putnam's original research over the past thirty years of scholarly contributions to the field of conflict and negotiations in organizations has earned her international recognition as the world's leading communication scholar in this field."

Professor Putnam is also a leader in the study of organizational communication and has made remarkable contributions to the direction of this field. Her discursive-based approach to organizational studies set agendas for communication scholars. Her theoretical and empirical work on "bona fide groups" has helped redirect group communication scholars; her innovative empirical research and reviews in the areas of organizational communication have led to major conceptual advances. Her work ranges from field-building handbooks to her own original framing of organizational communication. She is quite clearly an academic whose work has set the stage for organizational communication scholarship for the past quarter century. Indeed, as one of her external reviewers noted, "it is difficult to think of another communication scholar who has made as many important contributions to different areas of specialization."

Finally, one of her supporters offers the following summary of Professor Putnam's contributions: "To put it in a nutshell, she has simply done it all. Her research productivity is legendary; she has occupied every high office there is, including the presidency of the International Communication Association; she has built from very modest beginnings one of the top departments in the field; she is a brilliant pedagogue and public speaker; she has shown continual concern for the field internationally; and last but not least, she is a very fine person and friend, exemplifying the highest standards of personal integrity, courtesy, and plain old-fashioned warmth and humor. She is literally the 'dean' of the discipline, and recognized as such on every corner of the globe."

2014-15 Faculty Research Lecturer Committee:

  • Joseph Polchinski, Chair; Physics and the Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics (2013-14)
  • John Bowers; Electrical & Computer Engineering (2012-13)
  • Leda Cosmides; Psychological & Brain Sciences (2011-12)
  • John Tooby; Anthropology (2011-12)
  • Linda Petzold, Computer Science and Mechanical Engineering (2010-11)

The Faculty Research Lectureship is the highest honor the UCSB faculty can bestow on one of its members. The purpose of the award is to accord Academic Senate members the high recognition that is their due, and further to give faculty, students, and the citizens of the UCSB community an opportunity to understand the scholarly achievements and points of view of those whom we honor.

In reviewing many exceptional nominees, the Committee on Faculty Research Lectureship gives primary consideration to:

  • Extraordinary and/or high impact achievements in research and scholarly work;
  • Outstanding professional competence and international recognition in a field; and
  • Ability to present a lecture of interest to a broad community of scholars and, in general, to a cultivated public