Linda L. Putnam

Research Professor Emerita

Office Location

SSMS 4405


Organizational Communication, Negotiation and Conflict Management, Labor Unions, Discourse and Organizations, Gender Studies in Organizations


Linda L. Putnam joined the Department of Communication at Santa Barbara in August 2007 after serving as a Regent’s Professor and as the George T. and Gladys H. Abell Professor of Communication at Texas A&M University.  At Texas A&M, she was also Department Head (1993-1998) and Director of the Program on Conflict and Dispute Resolution in the Bush School of Government and Public Service (1998-2003).  Prior to her appointment at Texas A&M, Dr. Putnam was a faculty member in the Department of Communication at Purdue University (1977-1993).  She received her Ph.D. in Communication from the University of Minnesota in 1977 and her M.A. from the University of Wisconsin in 1968. 

Her research focuses on negotiation and conflict management in organizations, organizational discourse studies, groups and teams, and gender studies in organizations.  Her early investigations centered on communication strategies and tactics in teacher’s bargaining.  Using interaction analysis, sequential data analysis, and a discourse lens, this work examined arguments, interaction patterns, narratives, and rituals in negotiations.  Her research on gender applied a feminist lens to rethinking organizational theories and traditional bargaining and her discourse work in organizations highlights the contradictions, paradoxes, and dialectical tensions that emerge in formal negotiations and organizing practices.  In addition, she has analyzed conflict framing in multiparty environmental disputes and labor conflicts, including the 2007-2008 Writers Guild Strike.

To fund her research, she has received grants from the National Science Foundation, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.  She has presented over 100 invited keynote addresses, plenary speaker, and distinguished lectures throughout the US and in Brazil, Denmark, Sweden, Mexico, Germany, the Netherlands, Korea, New Zealand, and Australia. She has also served as an external reviewer for communication programs in the U.S., Europe, and Australia. 

Dr. Putnam is a Fellow of the International Communication Association (ICA), a Distinguished Scholar of the National Communication Association (NCA), and recently received the 2015 UCSB Faculty Distinguished Research Lecturer for extraordinary achievements in research and scholarly work.  She has received Lifetime Achievement Awards from the International Association for Conflict Management (2011), Management Communication Quarterly for contributions that shaped the field of organizational communication (2012), and the International Communication Association for the Steven H. Chaffee Career Productivity Award (2005).  In 1993, she received the Charles H. Woolbert Award for Original and Innovative Research from the National Communication Association and she is a two-time recipient of the ICA Best Article Award (2005, 2009).  Six of her books and articles have also received awards from the Organizational Communication Divisions of NCA and ICA.

In addition to her research, Dr. Putnam received the 2012 Samuel L. Becker Distinguished Service Award from NCA and the 2011 Distinguished Service Award from the Academy of Management Association for contributions to the discipline at large. She is a past president of three professional societies--the International Communication Association, the International Association for Conflict Management, and the Council of Communication Associations.  She was elected an at-large member of the Academy of Management Board of Governors and has served as the Chair of the Organizational Communication Divisions of the National Communication Association and the International Communication Association and the Conflict Management Division of the Academy of Management.  Her professional service also includes appointments as Associate Editor for Human Relations (2001-2006) and Organization (2001-2007), current membership on the editorial boards of eleven journals, co-editor of five handbooks, co-editor of two major works volumes, and guest editor (or co-editor) of seven special issues. 

Dr. Putnam teaches courses in organizational communication--including communication and negotiation, communication and organizational culture, qualitative methods, and discourse analysis in organizations.  She has won teaching awards, including the AMOCO and college level awards at Texas A&M University and Purdue University.


Undergraduate Courses

Comm 149 Communication and Organizational Culture

This class will examine the role of communication in the development of an organization’s culture—its unique mission, values, and beliefs. The course investigates how communication shapes the internal culture of organizations, forms subcultures, and promotes cultural change. Drawing from cases such as Disneyland, Microsoft, the Los Angeles Lakers, and Google, the course highlights the role of language, narratives, and symbols in the study of corporate culture and leadership in multinational organizations.

Course Objectives:

1. To understand the role of communication in developing, sustaining, and changing organizational cultures and subcultures.

2. To detect cultural values through analyzing symbols, narratives, rituals, humor, and emotions.

3. To understand the links between organizational culture and control, leadership and culture, organizational change, and ethical practices in organizations.

Comm 150 Groups in Multiple Contexts

This course examines the unique features of groups in society. It explores the role of communication in health care teams, decision making groups, self-managed teams, juries, athletic teams, gangs, families, therapy groups, and activist groups. Drawing on group concepts, it explores the challenges and pitfalls in team management, successful and unsuccessful features of groups, and effective team leadership for groups in society. The overall goal of the course is to help students understand the contextual features that contribute to effective communication in teams.

Course Objectives:

1. To treat groups as embedded in a larger structural and historical system of organizations, communities, and cultures.

2. To analyze and understand different types of groups, such as juries, families, and self-managed work teams, and how they form a foundation for society.

3. To examine particular features of different types of groups and how they contribute to the success or failure of group interactions.

Comm 175 NG Negotiation

This course explores the role of communication in negotiation. Negotiation is an approach to conflict management that relies on communication skills and communication processes through an exchange of offers and counteroffers. The course examines strategies and tactics used in salary negotiations, buying and selling of products, team bargaining, and multiparty negotiations. Class members apply course concepts to short case analyses, class exercises, and simulations.

Course Objectives:

1. To understand the different types of negotiation and acquire a repertoire of strategies and tactics to use in conflict and negotiation situations.

2. To develop diagnostic and intervention techniques for altering the course of negotiation and for achieving positive outcomes.

3. To respond effectively to other negotiators in framing conflict situations, planning for interactions, and developing working relationships.

Graduate Courses

Comm 222A Micro/Macro Organizational Communication

This course provides an overview of the major theories, themes, and foundational works in organizational communication. As a survey course, it covers a wide array of topics, grounds them in extant theory and literature, and emphasizes the development and integration of ideas.

1. To acquire general knowledge of the history, development, foundations, and research areas of organizational communication.

2. To understand the theoretical arenas of the field and how they are used to research different topics in organizational communication.

Comm 254 Qualitative Methods in Communication Research

This course offers an introduction and overview of qualitative research methods--an umbrella term that includes an array of techniques typically used to describe, code, and interpret naturalistic research. It explores a variety of qualitative approaches in communication studies, including in-depth interviews, participant observation, sampling, and ethnographic fieldnotes and various forms of data analysis (e.g., thematic analysis, grounded theory and constant comparison, narrative analysis, language and discourse analysis, and computer assisted data analysis).

Course Objectives:

1. To become familiar with a variety of approaches for doing qualitative research.

2. To learn how to design and conduct a qualitative research project.

3. To gain skills in drafting research questions, observing communicative situations, conducting interviews, and developing coding techniques.

4. To develop criteria for evaluating qualitative research, assessing the rigor of it, and understanding its application in the field of communication.

Comm 594 Gender and Organizational Communication

This course provides a survey of general topics related to gender and organizational communication. It gives an introduction to the typologies, issues, and research in the areas of gender, feminist theory, and organizational communication, particularly regarding such topics as organizational socialization, leadership, race and diversity, work/family, power and control.

Course Objectives:

1. To understand different approaches to feminist thinking as they apply to arenas of organizational communication.

2. To explore the intersection of gender, race, ethnicity, and sexual orientation as key features of identity work in organizations.

3. To examine work and family and gender/society issues as they impinge on everyday life in organizations.

Comm 594 Communication and Conflict Management in Organizations

This course examines the role of communication in conflict management in organizations. It explores conflict theories and approaches, negotiation processes, and third party intervention through the study of strategies and tactics, interaction processes, phases and stages of negotiation development, and conflict framing. Students engage in and conduct research projects on negotiation as a type of social interaction.

Course Objectives:

1. To understand the multiple roles that communication plays in conflict management, negotiation, and mediation in organizations.

2. To explore the elements and processes of negotiation and mediation.

3. To develop alternative models, theories, and ways of thinking about conflict and dispute systems in organizations.