Communication Scholar to Discuss How New Technologies Make Work More Visible | School of Communication Studies | Kent State University

Communication Scholar to Discuss How New Technologies Make Work More Visible

Sept. 17 Lecture Topic: “Visible: Spying, Eavesdropping, and Innovation in the Digital Age"

The Kent State University School of Communication Studies has named communication scholar Paul Leonardi, Ph.D., the L. Leroy Cowperthwaite Communication Lecturer. Professor Leonardi will visit campus Sept. 17-19 to meet one-on-one with undergraduate and graduate students and faculty to review their research agendas; to visit classes to discuss his areas of expertise; and to give a free, public lecture on the university’s campus.

Leonardi (Ph.D., Stanford University) is the Duca Family Professor of Technology Management at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He is the Investment Group of Santa Barbara founding director in the Master of Technology Management Program. He also holds appointments as a faculty research affiliate in the Center for Information Technology and Society and as a faculty affiliate in the Department of Communication.

His public lecture, which is free and open to the public, is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Sept. 17, in Rm. 226/226A Taylor Hall. It is titled “Visible: Spying, Eavesdropping, and Innovation in the Digital Age.”

Leonardi will discuss how social networking sites are making people’s work increasingly visible. 

“Through the use of communal data repositories, people can see what work their coworkers are doing and through the use of social networking sites, people can see with whom those coworkers communicate,” Leonardi said. “This increasing visibility of work and communication has a variety of effects – both positive and negative – on innovation.” 

Leonardi’s research focuses on how companies can design their organizational networks and implement new technologies to more effectively create and share knowledge. He is particularly interested in how data intensive technologies, such as simulation and social media tools, enable new ways to access, store, and share information; how the new sources of information these technologies provide can change work routines and communication partners; and how shifts in employees’ work and communication alter the nature of an organization's expertise.

Through a series of studies of automotive engineers, mobile app designers, bankers, and telecommunications professionals, Leonardi built a theory of communication visibility that helps to explain how the increasing social transparency of the workplace is changing organizations and the lives of those who work in them.

He has won awards for his research from the Academy of Management, the American Sociological Association, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the Association for Information Systems, the International Communication Association, the National Communication Association, and the National Science Foundation.

Over the past decade, he has consulted with for-profit and nonprofit organizations about how to manage the human aspects of new technology implementation. His recent engagements have focused on helping companies to improve communication between departments, to use social technologies to enhance internal knowledge sharing, and to strengthen global product development operations.

He is the author of Technology Choices: Why Occupations Differ in Their Embrace of New Technology (MIT Press, 2015); Car Crashes Without Cars: Lessons About Simulation Technology and Organizational Change from Automotive Design (MIT Press, 2012); and the edited volume, Materiality and Organizing: Social Interaction in a Technological World, (Oxford University Press, 2012). 

About L. Leroy Cowperthwaite Communication Lecture Series
Created in 1984 to honor the service of L. LeRoy Cowperthwaite, Ph.D., director of the Kent State University School of Speech from 1954 to 1983, the L. LeRoy Cowperthwaite Communication Lecture Series is an opportunity for graduate students to meet and learn from a renowned communication scholar. The School of Communication Studies invites a scholar to campus to present the Cowperthwaite Lecture and to teach coursework in his/her area of expertise. View the scholars who have visited since 1984.