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Asst. Professor Paul Leonardi Wins Top Dissertation Award

Paul Leonardi

Assistant Professor
Paul Leonardi

Paul Leonardi, assistant professor in communication studies, industrial engineering, and management sciences, will receive the Gerald R. Miller Outstanding Doctoral Dissertation Award from the National Communication Association at their annual convention on Sunday, Nov. 23 in San Diego, California. The Miller Award is the top award given to a dissertation in the field of communication.

“I am very honored to be selected as a recipient of the Miller Award,” Leonardi says. “I completed my dissertation in a school of engineering. I’m excited that ideas important to the field of communication are also of interest to the engineering community – and that communication scholars are continually open to expanding the boundaries of our discipline.”

Through a year-long ethnographic study of the work of automotive engineers who designed, implemented, and used computer-simulation technology to conduct virtual crash tests, Leonardi developed a theory of how technologies and organizational structures co-evolve.

“The theory highlights how idealized patterns of communication become embedded in technology features, and how – through their appropriation of those features in routine work – people may shift the patterns of communication constituting both the informal and formal organizational structures in which they work,” he says.

Leonardi is currently teaching a course in communication, technology, and culture – as well as an undergraduate seminar topic in global teams – on the new Northwestern campus in Doha, Qatar.

Leonardi received his Ph.D. in Management Science and Engineering from Stanford University. His teaching and research focus on issues pertaining to the design and implementation of new technologies, global product development, and the management of engineering work.

In addition to the Miller Award, Leonardi has received four additional awards in the past six months; three for his dissertation and one for a 2007 published article. The awards are:

  • Gerardine DeSanctis Dissertation Award, Organizational Communication and Information Systems Division, Academy of Management;
  • William H. Newman Award for Best Paper Based on a Dissertation, Academy of Management (Finalist);
  • W. Charles Redding Dissertation Award, Organizational Communication Division, International Communication Association (Honorable Mention);
  • and the Outstanding Published Paper Award, Communication and Information Technologies Section, American Sociological Association.