Stanley A. Deetz

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Stanley A. Deetz is a Professor Emeritus and a President's Teaching Scholar at the University of Colorado at Boulder. He was the Founding Director of the Center for the Study of Conflict, Collaboration and Creative Governance and long term Director of the Peace and Conflict Studies Program when he taught at the University of Colorado.


Stanley Deetz grew up on a dairy farm in Indiana. From his childhood, he developed a strong sense of community and sensitivity to how large external groups can unfairly impact the life and choices of ordinary people.[1] He received his B.S. in Economics and Speech/ Drama from Manchester College in 1970. Deetz attended Ohio University for both his M.A. (1972) and his Ph.D. (1973) in Communication, both under the advisement of Kenneth Williams. His master's thesis was titled, "An ethnomethodological analysis of selected approach to the speech act." His doctoral dissertation was titled, "Essays on hermeneutics and communication research." Deetz was a Claude Kantner Fellow in his final year of graduate study in 1973. Algis Mickunas served as his philosophical mentor.

Deetz has taught at several institutions: Bridgewater State College from 1973-77; Southern Illinois University from 1977–84; and Rutgers University from 1984-97. From 1997 to 2014, Deetz was a professor at the University of Colorado at Boulder.[2] He spent the spring semester of 1994 as a Senior Fulbright Scholar at Göteborgs Universitët in Sweden.

Deetz has held visiting appointments at Arizona State University, the University of Texas, the University of Iowa, Federal University of Minas Gerais (Brazil), and the Copenhagen Business School (Denmark).[3]

He served as President of the International Communication Association from 1996-97[4][not in citation given]

Deetz has been active in political and community organizations throughout his life and currently is on the Board of Directors of the Boulder-Nablus Sister City Project

He has three children: Carl Oscar Deetz, MD, PhD; Ingrid Eleanor Deetz-McMurray; Alexander Monroe Deetz

Academic scholarship[edit]

Deetz's specialization in organizational studies and organizational communication began from a philosophical understanding of the social (interactional) construction of human experience developing to a critical and cultural perspective about power and practices of corporations.[3] Summarizing his position, "If human experience is social constructed, it is done so under various conditions of inequality, and hence we have a practical and moral obligation to make actual places of construction more democratic."[5]

Deetz frames organizations as complicated and contested, as sites where public decisions are made concerning economic, social and political issues. He focuses on the governance and decision making of organizations on both commercial and community levels through the analysis of the consequences of discourse for the production and reproduction of power relations and dynamics within the organizational contexts.

Deetz's major scholarly contribution is the development of the corporate colonization theory as detailed in his 1992 book, Democracy in an Age of Corporate Colonization. Deetz frames the tensions in corporate colonization between the logics and demands of three spheres - private, public, and economic. He aligns the private sphere with home and community life, the public sphere with government and various agencies, and the economic sphere with market economy and the corporate business sector. The logics and demands of the three spheres are made explicit through specific constitutive communicative practices. Domination occurs when one of the spheres starts to encroach on another, or when the logics and demands of one start to "colonize" others. Traditional communication theory and liberal democratic theory failed to account adequately for meaning domination through focusing mostly on expression Deetz moved communication research to investigate the impact of the corporate sphere and its encroachment on everyday lives. He examined whose values count for how much in decision-making contexts are being made for the public and how these contexts could become more open and democratic. He doubted the capacity of corporate stewardship, governmental regulation, or market-based logics to lead to quality decisions, and thus claimed that new forms and practices of decision-making were needed.

Following on this work, Deetz has developed core principles for a "generative democracy" based in a politically attentive relational constructionism (PARC) theory. From an analytic perspective, this theory enables the mapping of complex conflicts and the identification of places where parties unwittingly consent to identities and forms of knowledge produced under conditions of inequality. From a practical perspective, the theory guides the development of interaction designs for high conflict and complex decision context that can lead to more creative and customizes decisions and more commitment to and compliance with them. Generative democracy based in PARC aims to enrich stakeholder theory and improve global governance. Deetz has examined corporate social responsibility and how general social values communicated in the private and public spheres can directly influence corporate decision-making processes and activities.

As an active critical scholar, Deetz has written extensively on critical methods and research within the subfields of organizational behavior and organizational communication. His work as a critical academic has enabled him to research within the public sector about the possibilities and challenges of organizational communication theories when applied.

Applied scholarship[edit]

Deetz is an engaged and active scholar, often taking his theoretical contributions and seeking to apply them in organizational contexts and change efforts both nationally and internationally.[3] As a practitioner, Deetz has worked extensively with the design of interaction processes in decision-making inside organizations and between organizations.[6] He has worked with major companies and agencies around the world through training various levels of employees and management in effective communication and collaboration skills.[7] This work has been grounded in a collaborative perspective on conflict and, more specifically, the positive use of conflict to address community decision-making, as well as organizational change and development.[1] As the Director of the Center for the Study of Conflict, Collaboration & Creative Governance at the University of Colorado Boulder, Deetz has made strides working with governance challenges. Furthermore, his practical experience extends to safety in nuclear power plants and institution change in STEM education. Deetz's appointments and accomplishments are quite commendable. As a President's Teach Scholar, Senior Fulbright Scholar, National Communication Association Distinguished Scholar,[6] Deetz has been recognized by prestigious organizations and institutions for his academic and industry achievements.

Selected publications[edit]

Deetz has authored, co-authored, and edited twelve books and more than 140 scholarly articles. Selected books include:

  • Deetz, S., Tracy, S., and Simpson, J. (2000). Leading organizations through transitions: Communication and cultural change. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. 230 pages, plus xi. Hrd & pbk.
  • Alvesson, M. & Deetz, S. (2000). Doing critical management research. London: Sage. 240 pages. Hrd & pbk. Translated into Swedish as Kritisk samhällsforskning. Lund, Sweden: Studentlitteratur.
  • Deetz, S. (1995). Transforming communication, transforming business: Building responsive and responsible workplaces. Cresskill, NJ: Hampton Press, Inc. 205 pages. Hrd & pbk.
  • Deetz, S. (1992). Democracy in an age of corporate colonization: Developments in communication and the politics of everyday life. Albany: State University of New York Press. 399 pages, plus x. Hrd & pbk.
  • Deetz, S. and Stevenson, S. (1986). Managing interpersonal communication. New York: Harper and Row.

Selected scholarly articles and book chapters include:

  • Deetz, S. (2010). Comunicação organizacional: fundamentos e desafios (Organizational communication: Foundations and challenges). In M. Marchiori (ed.), Comunicação e organização em processos e práticas (Organizational communication processes and strategy) (pp. 83–102). São Paulo: Difusão.
  • Deetz, S. (2009). Politically attentive relational constructionism (PARC) and making a difference in a pluralistic, interdependent world. In D. Carbaugh and P. Buzzanell (eds.) Reflections on the distinctive qualities of communication research in the social sciences (pp. 32–52). New York: Taylor Francis.
  • Deetz. S. (2009). O surgimento da governança corporativa e o redesenho da comunicação (The rise of stakeholder governance models and the redesign of communication necessary for them). In M. Kunsch (ed.), A comunicação na gestão para sustentabilidade das organizações (pp. 85–105). São Paulo: Difusão.
  • Deetz, S. (2009). Organizational research as alternative ways of attending to and talking about structures and activities. In A. Bryman and D. Buchanan (eds.), Handbook of organizational research methods (pp. 19–38). London: Sage Publications.
  • Deetz, S. (2001). Conceptual foundations. The new handbook of organizational communication: Advances in theory, research, and methods, 3-46.
  • Deetz, S. (1998). Discursive formations, strategized subordination and self-surveillance. Foucault, management, and organizafional theory: From panopficon to technologies of self, 151-172.
  • Deetz, S. (1996). Crossroads—Describing Differences in Approaches to Organization Science: Rethinking Burrell and Morgan and Their Legacy. Organization science, 7(2), 191-207.
  • Deetz, S., & Mumby, D. K. (1990). Power, discourse, and the workplace: Reclaiming the critical tradition. Communication yearbook, 13(1), 18-47.
  • Deetz, S., & Kersten, A. (1983). Critical models of interpretive research. Communication and organizations: An interpretive approach, 147, 171.
  • Deetz, S. A. (1982). Critical interpretive research in organizational communication. Western Journal of Communication (includes Communication Reports), 46(2), 131-149.


Deetz has received several awards for his written work and scholarly contributions as a teacher and researcher.

In 1991-1992, the Organizational Communication Division of the National Communication Association awarded Deetz the Outstanding Research Book award for Democracy in an age of corporate colonization: Developments in communication and the politics of everyday life. In 1995, he was presented the same award for his book, Transforming communication, Transforming business: Toward responsive and responsible workplaces.

The International Communication Association elected Deetz as a Fellow in 1999. In 2004, Deetz was elected as a Distinguished Scholars of the National Communication Association. Both are lifetime achievement awards.

The University of Colorado awarded Deetz the President's Teaching Scholar award in 2008, a lifetime achievement award for combined teaching and research achievements. In 2011, he received the Outstanding Teaching Award from the Western States Communication Association.


  1. ^ a b Deetz, Stanley (October 11, 2013). "Personal communication".
  2. ^ University of Colorado at Boulder. "Department of Communication". Retrieved 30 May 2014.
  3. ^ a b c "Stanley A. Deetz". Sage. Retrieved 30 May 2014.
  4. ^ "International Communication Association". International Communication Association. Retrieved 2015-12-21.
  5. ^ Deetz, Stanley (November 4, 2013). "Personal communication".
  6. ^ a b "Stanley Deetz". The Center for the Study of Conflict, Collaboration and Creative Governance The University of Colorado Boulder. Retrieved 30 May 2014.
  7. ^ "Consulting". The Center for the Study of Conflict, Collaboration and Creative Governance The University of Colorado Boulder. Retrieved 30 May 2014.

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