Post Conference Proposal for the Annual Conference of the International Communication Association (ICA), Gold Coast 2020




Maureen Taylor

Jim Macnamara

School of Communication

University of Technology Sydney


Mitchell Hobbs

Department of Media and Communications

The University of Sydney




May 27, 2020 from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.



University of Technology Sydney, Broadway Campus

15 Broadway, Ultimo NSW 2007




Public Relations

Organizational Communication



Openness in Communication: Relationships, Organizations and Institutions



We welcome full papers (no more than 7000 words) that draw upon the general theme of Open Communication.  


All submissions will undergo blind peer review and acceptance notifications will be sent out on February 2, 2020. The post-conference is open both to presenters and non-presenters, but authors of accepted papers are expected to attend the post-conference and present their work. Registration opens in mid February. The participation fee is $60 USD.



December 16, 2019





February 3, 2020






The 2020 ICA conference theme of Open Communication explores the topic of open science in communication. This post-conference takes the ICA theme in a different direction to ask scholars to consider openness in and around organizations.


Openness has been offered as a guiding framework across a variety of interpersonal, organizational and public relations contexts. At face level, open communication can be considered a positive process that benefits people, organizations and society.


In addition to the argument for open approaches in science, data, and publishing, scholarship flourishes from open minds and open cooperation and collaboration within and across disciplines through transdisciplinarity and interdisciplinarity.


Gadamer argued that communication and relationships, in particular, required that one first must “want to know” and then to be open to “the other” through listening, including to “things that are against me” in a dialogical dialectic – a concept also advocated by Martin Buber (1970), Bakhtin (1981), and other contemporary scholars.


But, openness has been critiqued (Eisenberg & Witten, 1987). Others argue that openness does not offer a panacea for personal or organizational communication, which is particularly pertinent in an age of concerns about privacy and the use of personal data. Being open may be contingent, which leads to questions about what, when, and how should communication be open. There may be legal or strategic reasons that organizations do not enact openness.


The post-conference, “Openness in Communication: Relationships, Organizations and Institutions,” encourages submissions exploring openness from diverse disciplinary perspectives. Guiding questions to be addressed in this post-conference may include the following but are not limited to:

·      What are appropriate norms of open communication across communication practices such as work, health, leadership, and public relations?

·      What counts as effective open communication in interpersonal, organizational and public relationships?

·      How does open communication influence organizational climate and culture?

·      What are the attributes of an open organization, community or society?

·      What constitutes open communication in and around organizations and institutions?

·      Which communication processes are antecedents to openness? What are the consequences of openness?

·      How do competitive considerations influence openness? What happens when openness is not possible?

·      How do organizations engage with members, publics and diverse stakeholders through public relations and strategic communication?

·      How does diversity influence open communication? How does open communication influence perceptions of identity and diversity?

·      How does openness affect political action, lobbying and other public affairs activities?

·      Why do some organizations reject openness?

·      How can publics engage with organizations and institutions to foster greater openness?

·      What role do media, including social media, play in fostering or hindering openness?

·      How can open communication improve risk and crisis preparedness?

·      What challenges occur when organisations enact openness? When publics participate in open communication?

·      Where are the ethical issues to communication openness?

·      What are the negative implications of openness for organizations and publics?



Activism, communication and social justice interest group

Heath communication

Interpersonal communication

Global communication and social change

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer interest group

Political communication



Full day conference on May 27, 2020 at the University of Technology Sydney, Broadway campus located in the heart of Sydney. The University of Sydney, a co-sponsor of the post conference, is located within walking distance.



The post-conference will run from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.  The format of the post-conference is fluid and the final format will be determined by the number of papers accepted. UTS has meeting space for at least two concurrent panel sessions 10-11:15 a.m., 11:45 to 1 p.m. and 2:30 to 3:45 p.m. (six panels of 3-4 papers each).



The budget for this proposed post-conference is based on a minimum of 25 paid registrations of USD $60.00. The registration fee will pay for coffee, tea, and lunch. The Department of Media and Communications at the University of Sydney has agreed to sponsor afternoon refreshments at the closing ceremony.



We expect that many ICA conference attendees will want to visit Sydney after the ICA main conference. Many conference attendees will book their return flight out of SYD. This post conference provides a space for in-depth discussions of open communication that extend and complement the ICA theme.






Bakhtin, M. M. (1981). The dialogic imagination: Four essays (C. Emerson & M. Holquist, Trans.). [1975] Austin, TX: University of Texas Press.


Buber, M. (1970). I and Thou (W. Kaufmann, Trans.). New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons.


Eisenberg, E. M., & Witten, M. G. (1987). Reconsidering openness in organizational communication. Academy of Management Review12(3), 418-426


Gadamer, H. (1989). Truth and method (2nd ed., J. Weinsheimer & D. Marshall, Trans.). New York, NY: Crossroad, pp. 363, 365. (Original work published 1960)