SC&I Assistant Professor of Communication DJ (Dajung) Woo has been awarded the 2023 Top Paper Award from the National Communication Association’s Organizational Communication Division for the paper “What do you want to do?: Communicative Negotiation of Expertise Between Emergency Physicians and Nurses.”
“Dr. Woo’s investigation of communication in situations where expertise and trust are intertwined enables us to understand how professionals negotiate their roles in situations where errors literally can be fatal,” stated Professor of Communication and Chair of the Communication Department Marya Doerfel. “It is a work of considerable importance, and we congratulate her on this recognition by her peers.”
The purpose of the Organizational Communication Division, according to the NCA, “is to promote research and teaching that highlights communicative behavior in organizational settings. Members are concerned with the creation of meaning, the production of messages, and the processing of information that makes organizing possible.”
Woo, whose research focuses on communication, socialization, and collaboration within/between organizations or professional groups, said, “I am honored by this award and grateful for the Division for the recognition.”
Woo coauthored the award-winning paper with Laura Miller, associate professor in the School of Communication Studies at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and Leonard Lamsen, Emergency Physician and Emergency Medicine Fellowship Director at the University of Tennessee Medical Center.
“Dr. Woo’s investigation of communication in situations where expertise and trust are intertwined enables us to understand how professionals negotiate their roles in situations where errors literally can be fatal." -- Professor of Communication and Chair of the Communication Department Marya Doerfel.
The key empirical question they explored in the paper regarding physician expertise is not about “whether physicians have clinical expertise or not” but “how—or through what communicative behaviors—are physicians able (and/or enabled) to make impacts as experts in a given situation.”
Their findings, they wrote, “show how nurses perform communicative expertise by initiating conversation with physicians in uncertain situations, without which physician expertise cannot be enacted in situations where it is most needed.”
As a Communication scholar, Woo aims to understand how people engage in communication behaviors, such as expertise sharing and identity work, in order to manage the process of joining, sustaining participation in, and/or leaving collaborative work environments. As a field researcher, Woo collects data through directly engaging with organizations and their members (e.g., interviews and participant observations) to gain a grounded understanding of communication practices.