Comm’s New Assistant Professors (Part 2): Paul Hangsan Ahn

In Fall 2023, the Hope College Communication Department is celebrating three newly appointed tenure track assistant professors and an assistant professor of communication instruction!

Join us for an interview with our newly appointed Assistant Professor of Communication, Dr. Paul Hangsan Ahn.

Dr. Paul Hangsan Ahn

Dr. Ahn studies organizational communication and public relations. Hope is thrilled to have him teaching courses such as Comm 330 Organizational Communication and Comm 358 Advance Public Relations, Comm 280 Quantitative Methods, and our introductory courses!

His exceptional research currently focuses on how human minds attend to ideas, and how this affects group and teamwork (e.g., brainstorming, problem solving) within organizations. For example, his recent publication, “Innovative Ideas Desire Earlier Communication: Exploring Reverse Serial-order Effect and Liberating Cognitive Constraint for Organizational Problem-Solving” (2023) specifically focuses on the communicative processes of problem-solving and decision-making.

What do you want your research to accomplish in the world?

One of my long-term goals is to contribute to science communication and PR on topics such as health and climate change, among others. For example, I would like science communication to strike a great balance between data-driven insights and reasoned intuitive judgments, often mentally simulated, especially during unpredictable situations like health crises.

Another broader goal is to enhance relationships within organizations, schools, and families through communication insights. For instance, framing relational challenges as temporary or situational—instead of structural or dispositional factors that may not be readily improved—has the potential to fortify individuals’ sense of belonging. A greater sense of belonging can diminish the cognitive burden from anxiety and ancillary concerns, leading to heightened cognitive ease, capability, personal agency, and potentially performance. Another example involves facilitating effective member idea sharing during collective problem-solving processes. This can be made easier by first identifying any deep-seated cultural norms of communication shared in organizations. Ultimately, this can mutually benefit both individuals and organizations in terms of learning and growth.

What ideas/theories are currently the most exciting to you?

Currently, I’m working on developing the IDEA (Ideas Desire Early Acknowledgment) theory, which is based on my recent publication (Ahn et al., 2023). This theory integrates individual cognition, group interactions, and organizational rules (norms) related to employee idea sharing. Additionally, the recently-developed STOPS (Situational Theory Of Problem Solving), which integrates PR with collective problem-solving, is something I would like to actively explore.

Would you rather be a puller or a moraler?*

  • Hope College is famous for its “Pull” tradition in which a team of Firstyear students compete with a team of Sophomore students in an enormous, strategic “tug of rope” competition. The teams have “pullers” and “moralers.” The pullers lie down in separate pits and pull on the rope, the moralers coordinate with one another and–sitting beside their puller– tell the puller when to pull extra hard!

I would like to be a moraler!

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