Contextualizing communication for digital innovation and the future of work

Jiawei Sophia Fu, Joshua B Barbour

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Digital innovation is the future of work. The ongoing and interlinked transformation of digital technologies, work, communication, and organizing raises important theoretical questions. Integrating recombination-based innovation theory and institutional theory of communication, this article contributes a novel framework that specifies the theoretical linkages between macro-level institutions and digital innovation: Social actors negotiate tensions arising from multiple institutional logics through (a) attention allocation; (b) sensemaking; and (c) external, boundary-spanning networking. The framework can advance the study of communication by (a) reconciling conflicting and inconclusive empirical findings; (b) targeting research efforts; and (c) responding to critiques of communication scholarship as failing to address social contexts. By focusing on digital innovation and the interplay between societal structures and communicative action in shaping it, this article advances scholarly discussions on the future of work, conceptualizing digital innovation as an institutional as well as communicative accomplishment.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberjqad031
Pages (from-to)36-47
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Communication
Issue number1
Early online dateOct 5 2023
StatePublished - Feb 1 2024


  • digital innovation
  • digital technologies
  • future of work
  • information communication technologies (ICTs)
  • institutional logics
  • institutional theory
  • organizational communication

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


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