Janet Fulk

Affiliate Research Scientist
Professor Emerita

Janet Fulk is a Professor of Communication in the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, and Professor of Management and Organization in the USC Marshall School of Business. She holds a B.A. in English from Michigan State University and M.B.A. and Ph.D. in Administrative Sciences from The Ohio State University.

Her first book, Organizations and Communication Technology (1990, with Charles Steinfield) responded to the claim that the study of information technology in organizations was “data rich but theory poor” by providing a set of theoretical essays to serve as a foundation for theory development.  The book won a Best Book Award from the National Communication Association and was lauded through a showcase panel on its continuing impact 20 years after publication.  Her second book, Shaping Organizational Form: Communication, Connection, and Community(1999, with Gerardine DeSanctis) focused on the role that information and communication technologies play in shaping the way organizing takes places in contemporary society and the challenges and opportunities that technological advances offer for organizational structure and functioning. Her third book, Policing Hawthorne (2000, with Greg Patton and Peter Monge) presents historical research on a community law enforcement organization.

A recent research project supported by a grant from the National Science Foundation in collaboration with Northwestern University and Northeastern University examines the impact of multidimensional and multilevel communication networks in online crowdsourcing.  Eight empirical studies on online crowdsourcing for graphic designs highlight the multiple ways in which crowd members are networked in online crowdsourcing in ways that impact the quality of the crowd’s predictions of market performance of the designs, the quality and innovativeness of serially successful designers, the cognitive categorization of designs by designers and the crowd, and how implicit categories structure markets in the same manner as explicit categories do.

The National Science Foundation also awarded two prior grants for her work to develop and test a theory of information as a public good.  The work resulted in a series of theoretical and empirical papers. Other recent work draws on community ecology theory to develop a multilevel conceptualization of expertise.

Dr. Fulk  has served on the Board of Governors of Academy of Management, where she also was elected Fellow in 1997.  She served as Deputy Dean of the Academy of Management Fellows from 1999 to 2002.  Other AOM lifetime achievement awards include Distinguished Service Award and Distinguished Scholar in Organizational Communication and Information Systems.

Dr. Fulk served on the Board of International Communication Association, where she was also elected Fellow in 2011.  Other ICA lifetime achievement awards include the Frederick Williams Prize for Contributions to the Study of Communication Technology and the Fredric M. Jablin Award for Outstanding Contributions to Organizational Communication.

Dr. Fulk is also a Faculty Affiliate for the Center for Effective Organizations of the USC Marshall School of Buisness. She is also the Co-Director of the Annenberg Networks Network.

Recent Research

The Impact of Social Capital on the Development of Transactive Memories Multilevel Group Knowledge Systems

In this paper by Yu Connie Yuan (Cornell University), Peter Monge, and Janet Fulk, a multilevel, multi-theoretical model of transactive memory theory was developed by integrating the emergence model with social capital theories.

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Resolving Communication Dilemmas in Database-Mediated Collaboration

Michael E. Kalman, Peter Monge, Janet Fulk, and Rebecca Heino discuss how in organizational settings, a communication dilemma exists whenever the interests of a collective (i.e., team, organization, interorganizational alliance) demand that people share privately held information but their individual interests instead motivate them to withhold it.

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Fostering Intranet Knowledge-Sharing: An Integration of Transactive Memory and Public Goods Approaches

Andrea Hollingshead, Janet Fulk, and Peter Monge discuss how transactive memory theory is useful for predicting how organizational members use intranets to acquire, store and retrieve knowledge. Public Goods Theory is useful for predicting whom, how much, and when members will contribute and retrieve knowledge on intranets.

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Global Organizational Networks: Emergence and Future Prospects

Janet Fulk discusses how the closing years of the 20th century brought a burst of theory, research, analysis and social commentary that established the network as the most important emergent organizational structure and the preeminent metaphor sense-making by academics and practitioners alike.

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A Motivational Model for Resolving Social Dilemmas in Discretionary Databases

Michael E. Kalman, Janet Fulk, and Peter Monge discuss how organizations have increasingly become sites of collective action, where task performers rely upon shared databases as flexible means to collect and distribute information widely.

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