Back to Assignments | Go to Syllabus  | Go to Course Schedule | Go to Irwin's Main Page  E-Mail Irwin


Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne Department of Communication

COM 42300 – Leadership, Communication And Organizations  – Fall Semester 2016 –  Instructor: Irwin Mallin

Response Papers: Critique of Theory/Concept
Response Paper 1 Due at Beginning of Class on Thursday, September 22
Response Paper 2 Due at Beginning of Class on Thursday, October 27

In this course we are looking at various approaches to studying and understanding leadership and communication  in organizations.  Since you've all been part of organizations of one form or another – and experienced the better and worse attempts at leadership that go along with organizational life – for some time now, you should be drawing upon your experience to develop opinions about the concepts we discuss. Some may strike you as particularly useful in developing your understanding (as when our class discussion or your reading of a theory leads you to think, "Ooh, that explains it!").  Others may strike you as not so useful (as when you think, "Gosh, that's stupid!"), while still others may strike you as incomplete (as when you think, "Yeah, but what about the times when....?")  This paper is your chance to explore those reactions in depth. For Response Paper 1, choose any concept or theory from our course readings for the period September 8 through 20.. For Response Paper 2, choose any concept or theory from our course readings for the period October 6 through 20..

You will draw upon your personal workplace experiences to demonstrate the strengths and/or shortcomings of the theory as well as how the theory may be used to guide organizational practice.  Your goal is to make an argument, illustrate it with examples from workplace events/practices you have participated in or observed, and explain how those illustrations support your argument. That is, you are progressing from your initial reaction to the theory to a developed argument.  That is, you are moving from saying   "Gosh, that's stupid" to "This theory is deficient because....," from  “Ooh, that explains it” to “This theory is useful because....,” or from “But what about the times when...” to “This theory’s utility is limited by....”

Generalizations will not lead to good papers. Support any assertion you make with a specific example from your interaction. When I read the paper I should be able to “see” the interaction to which you're referring. Try to remember exactly what people said and did as best you can. 

The best papers will have reasonably detailed analysis, display creativity, insight, and  be logically organized.  They will also demonstrate your understanding of and ability to apply the theory you choose. Of course, they’ll also be grammatically correct and free of spelling and punctuation errors. 

The essay should be between three and five pages in length.  It should be typed (double spaced, margins of 1" all around, font no larger than 12).  It should also be stapled.  Of course, keep a copy of your paper.

You shouldn’t do any research beyond the readings for this course to do this assignment, but your paper should conform to APA style (either 5th ed, 2001 or 6th ed, 2009).


Organize the paper into the following sections, using the following section headings:

I. Introduction: This section will include a brief attention getter, a thesis statement in which you  "make the call" on the usefulness of the theory or concept you are examining, and a preview of the paper's structure

II. The Situation: Explain the situation  What did the leader try to do?  What events or circumstances led to the decision to do it? Although this is the section of the paper that will appear first, it’s actually the section that you should write last, as explained below

III. The Concept: Briefly set forth and explain in your own words the theory (or model or whatever) that you’re using to analyze the situation.

IV. Analysis of the Situation: This should be the longest section of the paper.  Apply the concept you’ve chosen to the situation

V. Conclusions about the Concept: Explain how the concept you chose is and isn’t useful for understanding how to deal with situations like the one you’ve analyzed here.  This should be the next-to-longest section of the paper. 

VI. Conclusion: Briefly summarize and gracefully conclude the paper.

How to proceed: 

I suggest writing Sections III, IV, and V first and then going back and writing Sections I and II, even though Section I will appear first in the final draft of your paper.  That way, you need only include those facts that are necessary to your reader’s understanding of the subsequent sections

Hints for success for these papers: 
•Make sure you do everything called for in these directions.
•Don’t wait to do this! Take your time, and use the services of  the Writing Center if you need to.
•You are invited to show me a draft in person or discuss potential paper topics either in person or via email.
  I can't, though, look at at drafts via email.


Use for your portfolio

Depending on what you write about, these papers can be useful for any of these sections of the portfolio you're working on in the COM 120/308/480 or 499 sequence of classes.  We'll talk a little about how in class:

- Explain communication concepts and theories relevant to their major
- Explain, apply, and evaluate the processes involved in productive conflict in the contexts  relevant to their major
- Demonstrate the ability to be a critically engaged citizen
- Evaluate interpersonal and/or group interactions
- Communicate competently (effectively, appropriately, ethically) interpersonally and/or in groups


Copyright © 2001-2016 Irwin Mallin
Last Updated: 16 September 2016
URL: http://users.ipfw.edu/mallini/423resp.html