Are We Moving Towards Convergence? Revisiting communication disciplines, theories, models and concepts.



Within the past two decades, communication scholars have been preoccupied with debating the intellectual boundaries between disciplines, theories, models and concepts, as well as the institutional legitimacy of the field as such. Some researchers have talked about ‘convergence’ (Zorn, 2002). Other researchers have talked about ‘bridging’ (Cornelissen & Christensen, 2011). Others again take an alternative approach promoting a new ‘interdisciplinary paradigm’; see (Nothaft, Werder, Vercic, & Zerfass, 2018). The new thing about this debate is that it seems to take place both inside each discipline and across disciplines.

The purpose of this pre-conference is not only to study this debate, but also to contribute to it. We therefore invite junior and senior scholars representing one or more of the following disciplines - organizational communication, public relations, business communication, corporate communication, and strategic communication – to submit an abstract.

By convergence and bridging, we understand the process whereby we consciously or unconsciously move disciplines, theories, models and concepts towards each other. In his article “Converging within divergence: Overcoming the disciplinary fragmentation in business communication, organizational communication, and public relations” (2002), Ted Zorn warned us against the fragmentation of disciplines. It will turn us into ignorants when it comes to the world outside our own specialties. In their article “Bridging corporate and organizational communication: Review, development, and a look to the future” (2011), Lars T. Christensen and Joep Cornelissen suggest in detail how bridging can take place between two disciplines. It is important to understand that the criteria of success for convergence and bridging is not necessarily integration. It is more the academic quality of the process: the debate as such.

Questions addressed are among others:

Topics can be but are not restricted to:

Conceptual, empirical and theoretical papers are welcome.

Submission guidelines

Abstract submissions to the pre-conference (500-1000 words, not including tables and references) are invited from across divisions of the communication field, and will be evaluated competitively by anonymous referees. All submissions must be completed online no later than 16:00 UTC, 15 January 2019


Zorn, Ted (2002). Converging within divergence: overcoming disciplinary fragmentation in business communication. Business Communication Quarterly, 65(2), 44-53

Christensen, L.T. & Cornelissen, J. (2011). Bridging orporate and organizational communication: Review, development and a look to the future. Management Communication Quarterly, 25(3), 383-414.

Nothaft, H., Werder, K., Vercic, D. & Zerfass, A. (Eds.) (2018). Future Directions of Strategic Communication. Special Issue, International Journal of Strategic Communication, 12(4).