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Two communication scholars win Best Faculty Paper award from International Communication Association

15 May 2014

Dr Regina Chen (right) and Dr Flora Hung-Baesecke scoop International Communication Association’s Best Faculty Paper Award
Dr Regina Chen (right) and Dr Flora Hung-Baesecke scoop International Communication Association’s Best Faculty Paper Award

Dr Regina Chen and Dr Flora Hung-Baesecke, Assistant Professors of the Department of Communication Studies of the School of Communication, recently won a Best Faculty Paper award from the International Communication Association for the paper they co-authored with Dr Jeong-nam Kim (Purdue University). The paper, entitled “Identifying Active Hot-Issue Communicators and Subgroup Identifiers: Examining the Situational Theory of Problem Solving”, was ranked as one of five best papers in the Public Relations Division. 


The study presented in the paper used the situational theory of problem solving (STOPS) to examine communication behaviours of the publics formed around a government policy issue attracting intense media coverage in a Chinese society. Using the policy issue of resuming the import of US beef as an example, the study analysed 748 valid samples of an online survey conducted in Taiwan. Research results supported the utility of STOPS in identifying the group of citizens who were actively involved in the communication (the search, selection and transmission of relevant information) of the US beef policy from the general population by evaluating individuals’ perception of the policy issue as a problematic situation. 


Results of examining the two cross-situational variables’ impact on the situational variables (programme recognition, constraint recognition, involvement recognition, and referent criterion) indicated that party identity serves as a better identifier of subgroups of the hot-issue public than trust in the government. The study found that as compared to the distrust of government, party identity directly affected the active communication performance of anti-US beef policy. Thus, party identity was one of the valid indicators to identify the active public in the US beef issue.


Based on the findings, theoretical implications for the STOPS model in a hot-issue situation and the composition of hot-issue publics as well as practical implications for effective communication targeting the active public arising from the controversy were discussed.  


The International Communication Association is a central organisation in the field of communication. This year’s conference will be held from 22 to 26 May in Seattle, USA. The conference saw a very large number of paper submissions globally and only around 36% of the submitted papers and panels were accepted this year.