Explicating Listening in Organization–Public Communication: Theory, Practices, Technologies

Jim Macnamara


There is a concerning lacuna in communication studies and particularly in specialist subdisciplines including political, government, corporate, and organizational communication, and public relations. Despite Craig’s succinct but cogent description of communication as “talking and listening”; theorization of communication as a two-way transactional interaction rather than a one-way transmission of messages; and focus on voice, dialogue, and engagement, listening is implicit or described in sketchy terms in these disciplines. This critical analysis, based on a transdisciplinary literature review and empirical research findings, proposes that organizational listening must be made explicit and explicated in practical theory. This analysis builds on existing theory and empirical studies to examine methods and technologies that can facilitate organizational listening in a digital age to create an effective public sphere and meaningful organization–public engagement. Ethical as well as technological issues are explored, and directions for further research are proposed to inform effective two-way organization–public communication and potentially create transformative communication.


public communication, listening, speaking, voice, dialogue, engagement

Full Text: