My primary research lies at the intersection of emerging technologies (cyinfrastructure, social media, etc.) and organizational communication. More specifically, my overarching research agenda is to investigate the virtualization of organizations, groups, and teams. Among many possible topics in the virtualization process, I focus on three primary communication processes: (1) technology adoption by individual users, which leads to (2) micro distributed collaborations in groups and teams, and finally (3) macro virtual organizing/virtual organizations across time and space. These communication processes are inter-related and not linear, and they are inter-twined with the emergence, design, development, and impacts of technologies. I employ both qualitative and quantitative methods to gather empirical data.
The virtualization process begins with technology adoption. For this research strand I ask, “What rationalities and factors drive technology adoption in organizations, groups, and teams?” Distributed collaboration may be engaged by purely virtual teams but often hybrid groups. I am particularly interested in studying hybrid groups in research labs, health communities, and educational classrooms. For this strand I ask, “What conditions promote effective and efficient distributed collaborations in (hybrid) groups and teams?” When a cluster of distributed collaborations are connected to one another, people begin to virtually organize. For this strand I ask, “What theoretical models explain, describe, and predict the processes of effective/efficient virtual organizing, organization, and management?” I primarily examine these questions by studying scientific, health, and educational organizations, groups, and teams. One of the emerging technologies I study is cyberinfrastructure, which includes computational tools, supercomputing systems, etc. for large-scale scientific research.
Recently, I am further extending my research to health communication, especially looking at innovation diffusion and communication networks at various scales. More specifically, in a project with a team of researchers at Chapman, we are exploring ways to mathematically model and use computer simulation to identify social aggregates and leadership groups in diffusion networks in order to strategically speed health interventions and/or organizational change via social media platforms and human communication networks. In another team project funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, we are looking at ways to measure and assess readiness and capacities of key players in inter-organizational networks to strategically speed the distribution and dissemination of health innovations from the US to developing countries.
Finally, my research has also gotten some media exposure. Recently in July 2010, I was interviewed and quoted by the Austin-American Statesman, a local newspaper based in Austin, TX. I was approached because of my social media research. The title of the article is “Online Reputation Will Shape Our Lives More and More.” I was mentioned twice, once in the first half of the article, and more importantly, in the conclusion of the article as the departing thought on the second page.