Executive Master’s in Leadership alumna Vicki Gates’ capstone paper, “Communication Strategies for Human Resource Managers and Other Counselors: Extensions and Applications of Equity Theory” was selected as the outstanding paper of 2018 by the Association for Business Communication, Southwestern United States (ABCSW), as part of the Federation of Business Disciplines (FBD).

Gates’ research focused on employees’ perception of inequity in the workplace. Working alongside her mentor, professor emeritus Lamar Reinsch, Gates (EML’16) found that individuals who practice non-professional counseling can use equity theory to better understand the complaints they hear and help an employee change his or her perceptions of the situation.

Gates’ research stood out through her careful use of theory, practice, and research. “In theory, our assessment of actual HR cases indicates that humans use equity principles in creative ways to make sense of their worlds. In practice, we found that equity theory provides conceptual tools for the counselor and can form the basis for training HR professionals. In research, our work demonstrated the value of equity theory for understanding workplace persuasion,” explained Gates.

Gates and Reinsch were honored at a banquet and presented the paper at the ABCSW/FBD convention in Albuquerque in early March. As an HR business partner, Gates hopes that her work will stimulate more equity theory research by business communication scholars.