Robert C Whitbred (Rob), Ph.D.
 Title: Associate Professor
 Dept: Communication
 Office: MU 209
 Phone: 216-687-5083,  216-687-5083
 Address: 2121 Euclid Ave. MU 209, Cleveland, OH 44115

Courses Taught


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Research Keywords:
organizational communication, job satisfaction, social network analysis, organizational mission statements, organizational mission, semantic network analysis, longitudinal analysis, quantitative analysis
Ph.D., Speech Communication, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2004
M.A., Speech Communication, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1994
B.A., Communication, SUNY Buffalo, 1992
Brief Bio:
Rob Whitbred joined the faculty of the School of Communication at Cleveland State as an Assistant Professor in August of 2006. He was previously on the faculty at the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown, Southeastern Louisiana University, Tulane University, Texas Tech University, and Penn State. Rob spends most of his free time with his wife and son, although he does find himself going to the West Side Market (wonderful historical aggregation of food vendors of all types--see at least twice a month.

Having grown up a fan of the Pittsburgh Steelers, Rob also takes considerable enjoyment in the continued struggles of a certain football team whose nickname begins with a B, ends with a S, and has an ROWN in between.
Honors and Awards:
Top Paper award in the Organizational Communication Division at the 94th Annual Meeting of the National Communication Association for a paper titled From micro-actions to macro-structure: A structurational approach to the evolution of organizational networks. (November, 2008), San Diego, CA.; authors: Whitbred, R., Fonti, F., Contractor, N., & Steglich, C.

Top Paper award in the Organizational Communication Division at the 98th Annual Eastern Communication Association Convention, for a paper titled A Communication Approach to Mission: A Literature Review and Research Agenda.  (May 2007), Providence, RI.

Top Paper award in the Organizational Communication Division at the 96th Annual Eastern Communication Association Convention, for a paper titled The Sensemaking of Organizational Mission I: A Conceptual Model (May 2005), Pittsburgh, PA.

Top Paper award in the Organizational Communication Division. Contractor, N. S., Whitbred, R. C. Fonti, F., Hyatt, A., Jones, P., & OKeefe, B. (July, 1998).  Self-organizing communication networks in organizations:  Validation of a computational model using exogenous and endogenous theoretical mechanisms. International Communication Association, Jerusalem, Israel.
Research Interests:
Developing and implementing mission statements is a frequently used strategy for improving organizational effectiveness. Proposed benefits of mission statements include providing direction for resources distribution as the first step in the strategic planning process, helping the organization with public positioning, and facilitating coordination within the organization by providing a baseline for decision making. Despite the enormous quantity of mental and economic resources dedicated towards developing and implementing mission statements, there are few tangible benefits for most organizations. This reality provides the starting point for my research program.

I argue that organizational mission has an inherent communicative basis. Members of organizations will develop perceptions about what the mission of their organization is, regardless of whether there is a formal statement. Further, members will interpret/assign meaning to a formal mission statement, regardless of how well it is sold to them. It is these perceptions that will influence what they perceive as salient in their organizational contexts, and influence their subsequent behavior and decision making. My research papers have instantiated this program by examining: 1) the factors that influence patterns in employees perceptions of mission; 2) who is more likely to perceive the mission of their organization in concordance with the mission statement; 3) whether the mechanisms predicting perceptions/mission statement concordance vary between bureaucracies and virtual organizations; 4) developing an argument that utilizes the sensemaking approach to both integrate existing mission research and ground future studies; and 5) the role ambiguity plays in managing perceptions of mission in organizations.

Informal networks are those communication ties that emerge in addition to those formally mandated by the organization. These are often thought of as the 'grapevine.' A second research interest of mine is identifying and utilizing longitudinal techniques that allow the dynamic analysis of the factors influencing the emergence of informal networks.
Teaching Areas:
Dr. Whitbred's primary teaching areas are related to his research interests in Organizational Communication. Specific courses he has taught include Organizational Communication, Small Group and Team Communication, Intercultural Communication, Interviewing, Business and Professional Communication, Public Speaking, Business and Professional Speaking, Social Network Analysis, and Research Methods.
Professional Affiliations:
International Communication Association
National Communication Association
Eastern Communication Association
Professional Service:
Taught course titled An Introduction to Social Network Analysis at the 98th Annual Eastern Communication Association Convention, Providence, RI.

Chair and Program Planner for the Organizational Communication Division of the Eastern Communication Association for the 99th convention to be held May 2008 in Pittsburgh, PA.

Reviewer for the Organizational Communication Division of the Eastern Communication Association for the 98th convention held May 2008 in Providence, RI.
Research Grants:
Integrating the International Communication Audit with Internal Branding; August 2008 ¿ May 2009; Gebauer Company; $3,200; includes $1,600 internal match

Impacts of different channels of communication on immediate response to mission, Project support by an Undergraduate Research Grant Program from the Provosts Office at Cleveland State University, Summer 2007, $10,000.

Teaching Enhancement Grant titled A Case Study Approach to Organizational Communication from the Center for Teaching Excellence at Cleveland State University, $900.00