USC Annenberg School For Communication and Journalism

Reframing The Art of Framing: Problems and Prospects for Leadership


This article offers three explanations for why some leaders embrace the skill of framing and others struggle with it.

The first explanation draws from philosophical arguments in social constructionism over relativism, essentialism, and agency to draw boundaries around that which is open to framing and that which is not. The second explanation draws from O’Keefe’s (1988; 1997) theory of ‘Message Design Logics’, which argues that the logics that managers employ to produce and receive messages likely impacts framing ability. The third explanation grapples with questions of whether framing is a teachable skill and the contingencies associated with effective learning. Finally, the article concludes with an argument for the interrelationship among the three explanations.