Karen Ashcraft
Department of Communication • Organizational Communication Graduate Faculty

Office: Hellems 90


Karen Lee Ashcraft is an organizational communication professor whose research examines how relations of difference, such as gender and race, come to matter in work and organizational life. She addresses this concern in a range of contexts, from bureaucratic and alternative forms of organizing to specific industries, spanning occupations as diverse as commercial aviation, social services, and academic labor.

Professor Ashcraft has published over 50 articles and chapters on these and related themes in the journals of communication and management as well as work and organization studies, including such outlets as the Academy of Management Journal, Administrative Science Quarterly, Organization, Communication Monographs, and Management Communication Quarterly. She has also published two co-authored books: Reworking Gender: A Feminist Communicology of Organization (Sage, 2004), which received the Organizational Communication Book of the Year award from the National Communication Association, and, most recently, The Work of Communication: Relational Perspectives on Working and Organizing in Contemporary Capitalism (Routledge, 2017). Ashcraft received the 2013 Best Article of the Year award from the Academy of Management Review for her formulation of the “glass slipper,” which demonstrates that communication generates occupational identity and professional privilege through bodily association. Her current work considers how so-called new materialisms—in particular, critical approaches to affect—can enrich communication theory and practice in this moment of advanced capitalism. In recent research on occupational branding, for example, she explores the utility of reviving the role of transmission, specifically affective conduction, in constitutive approaches to communication.

Professor Ashcraft teaches undergraduate courses on gender and communication, as well as senior seminars on affect and relations of difference at work. She also teaches graduate courses addressed to various aspects of organizational communication and qualitative research methods. In regular travels around the U.S. and internationally, Ashcraft delivers talks and offers workshops and seminars to a wide range of academic and practitioner audiences.