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This essay aims to “materialize” organizational communication in three senses. First, we seek to make the field of study bearing this name more tangible for North American management scholars, such that recognition and engagement become common. To do so, we trace the development of the field’s major contribution thus far: the communication‐as‐constitutive principle, which highlights how communication generates defining realities of organizational life, such as culture, power, networks, and the structure–agency relation. Second, we argue that this promising contribution cannot easily find traction in management studies until it becomes “materialized” in another sense: that is, accountable to the materiality evident in organizational objects, sites, and bodies. By synthesizing current moves in this direction, we establish the basis for sustained exchange between management studies and the communication‐as‐constitutive model. Third, we demonstrate how these conceptual developments can “materialize” in empirical study, proposing three streams of research designed to examine communication as a central organizing process that manages the intersection of symbolic and material worlds.
- © 2009 Academy of Management