Explaining the (De)valuation of Process Experts in Contemporary Organizations

Jeffrey W. Treem, William C. Barley

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


This chapter introduces the concept of process expertise to refer to a form of expertise individuals may enact in managing information and communication both within and across specialist domains but which does not, in itself, represent those domains’ practices. An argument is made that the value of workers who apply this expertise (e.g. process experts) is often overlooked because people are conditioned to value work practices that are visibly associated with exclusive forms of domain knowledge. Four different forms of processes are identified as representative of process expertise: operational processes, curational processes, evaluative processes, and representational processes. Process expertise is valuable for individuals because it is transferable across organizational contexts, and is valuable for organizations because it complements or amplifies the contributions of specialist experts. Developing theory that incorporates process expertise will help communication scholars interrogate questions related to the authority, visibility, materiality, and exclusivity of work practices.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationExpertise, Communication, and Organizing
EditorsJeffrey W. Treem, Paul M. Leonardi
PublisherOxford University Press
ISBN (Electronic)9780198739227
StatePublished - Jun 1 2016


  • experts
  • expertise
  • process
  • domain expertise
  • value
  • work
  • transferability


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