Experts at coordination: Examining the performance, production, and value of process expertise

William C. Barley, Jeffrey W. Treem, Paul M. Leonardi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper argues that coordination among domain experts can be viewed as a distinct form of knowledge in itself, and an area in which an individual may become an expert. We discuss why domain experts may be ill-equipped to coordinate their knowledge with the knowledge of others, and why individuals with process expertise may be better equipped to facilitate coordination between domain experts. Drawing on a qualitative study of nurses organizing emergency pediatric transfers, we demonstrate how process expertise is established, maintained, and enacted through situated communicative practices. The analysis characterizes process expertise as operating interdependently with, but distinct from, domain expertise, and shows how process expertise can aid in settings that demand complex coordination. This work challenges assumptions that coordination among domain experts is best addressed through supporting network connections or overcoming interpretive obstacles, and offers an alternative way to support coordination by cultivating process experts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)60-89
Number of pages30
JournalJournal of Communication
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1 2020


  • Coordination
  • Expertise
  • Organizational communication
  • Process expertise

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


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