Expertise is an intriguing construct. Though it is highly desired, it is commonly characterized by exclusivity or being something esoteric making it both seemingly difficult to acquire and understand. This opaqueness surrounding the nature of expertise in organizational contexts is coupled with greater demands for specialized work and employees’ increased reliance on communication technologies to complete tasks – trends that further complicate the evaluation of workers’ knowledge and abilities.

This volume draws upon original works, from scholars of diverse backgrounds, to explore how recent changes in the structure of organizational life have altered the nature of expertise. Specifically, this book aims to challenge the perspective that organizational expertise exists to be recognized and utilized, and offers an alternative lens that views expertise as emergent and constituted in communication among organizing actors.

Examining the intersection of communication and expertise, within and across different contexts of organizing, offers new insights into the discursive, material, and structural influences that contribute to an understanding of expertise. This book offers a comprehensive view of organizational expertise by presenting theoretical frameworks for the study of expertise, providing reviews of how the study of expertise has evolved, applying perspectives on expertise to different domains of organizational practice, and presenting new directions for the study of the intersection of expertise, communication, and organizing. The result is a treatment that considers expertise in diverse forms and across a variety of contexts of organizing, and in doing so provides valuable content to researchers from multiple disciplinary backgrounds.


Drawn from an all-star cast of contributors, this book challenges the very foundation of the concept, expertise. Moving away from individual attributes, it shows how expertise is grounded and communicative practices, relationships, and processes enacted for different audiences at multiple levels of analysis. This book is a tour de force that captures cutting edge perspectives and provides a refreshing constituent of lens to this topic. It is a must-read for scholars who work in the areas of information environments, knowledge management, new technologies, networks, distributed work, and innovation.

Linda L. Putnam

Research Professor, University of California, Santa Barbara

In an increasingly complex and dynamic world, expertise is more important than ever. But too often promising experts disappoint us, delivering advice that goes badly, over estimating benefits, underestimating costs. Expertise Communication and Organizing makes a convincing case that expertise is best understood not as a characteristic of the expert but as a process in which expertise is created and negotiated in context between the expert and those seeking expertise. The creative and pathbreaking chapters in this volume illuminate how expertise is constituted through communication, how people recognize expertise and non-expertise, how professionals and act expertise, and the intimate connection between technology and expertise.

Marshall Scott Poole

David L Swanson Professor of Communication, University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign

This book makes a landmark contribution to the relationship between expertise, communication, and organizing. Treem and Leonardi have Marshall and all-star cast of experts to help usher communication scholarship to the center of the robust interdisciplinary intellectual discourse on the multi-level factors that shape what constitutes expertise, how we recognize it, judgment, and find it. The chapters in this book utilize a broad spectrum of theoretical and analytical tools to study expertise in traditional organizational contacts, but also offer important insights on the evolving role of expertise amidst our ongoing for raise in developing novel technologically enabled modes of organizing. It is a fitting self-referential testimonial that the reader will resonate with the expertise of the scholars’ reflections on expertise.

Noshir Contractor

Jane S. and William J. White Professor of Behavioral Sciences, Northwestern University

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