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Activists' Influence Tactics and Corporate Policies   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

Corporations increasingly pay attention to issues of social responsibility, but their policies and procedures to articulate such responsibilities are not just a result of the good will of top management. Often, such policies and procedures are devised because some stakeholders raised their voice on issues relating to the interests of employees, investors, governments, and others. One category of visible though heterogeneous stakeholders is composed of 'activist groups.' In this article, we present a range of tactics that activist groups employ to influence corporate policy and conclude with some corporate policy responses to these tactics, illustrated with some examples. Different Tactics Activist groups usually start an influence campaign by collecting and organizing information about some issue about which they are concerned (e.g., sustainable development, human rights, labor conditions), disseminating this information to their audiences and formulating desired outcomes. They inform the target firm's top management of their particular concern and propose desired outcomes or alternative courses of action. If the firm's responses are considered inadequate, they will likely continue their campaign, but by starting to employ a more varied set of tactics. Below, we discuss four different types of tactics that activist groups use to leverage pressure on firms and that do not rely on the state or legal action for resolution of the issue: shareholder activism, political consumerism, social alliances, and alternative business systems (de Bakker and den Hond, 2007).

de Bakker, Frank G.A. and Frank den Hond. Business Communication Quarterly (2008). Articles>Business Communication>Policies and Procedures


Addressing Resistance to Change in Policy and Procedure Writing

Policy writing and procedure writing is challenging because of the mechanics involved. Words must be carefully chosen; nuances must be considered. Understanding the mechanics of writing these documents is critical; however, an often overlooked aspect should be dealt with before the first word is written. How can policy and procedure writing tiptoe around the elephant in the room that everyone is trying to ignore?

Hibbard, Catherine S. Cypress Media Group (2010). Articles>Business Communication>Policies and Procedures>Technical Writing


Can We Learn from Nonprofit Organizations' Disclosure Practices?

Every day, large and small nonprofit organizations around the world engage in diverse activities in the public interest. But in accomplishing this overarching goal of social responsibility, how well do nonprofits communicate their activities and strategies? What do nonprofits' business practices suggest about the issues of transparency and accountability? Can nonprofits serve as models for for-profit organizations in communicating their own social responsibility commitments and activities?

Hill, Frances R. Communication World Bulletin (2005). Articles>Business Communication>Policies and Procedures>Nonprofit


Contracting and Consulting for Policies and Procedures Engagements   (PDF)

As the number of persons employed by some U.S. organizations declined since the late 1980s, so have employment opportunities for Policies & Procedures (P&P) practitioners. During this period, the number of contractors and consultants has increased to meet the needs of newly changed organizations. A useful way for P&P practitioners to learn how they can provide contracting and consulting services is to understand three roles in leveraging such services: an extra pair of hands, expert, and collaborator.

Urgo, Raymond E. STC Proceedings (1999). Articles>Business Communication>Policies and Procedures>Technical Writing


Corporate Blogging Policies

I wrote in a recent report, that companies should have a blogging policy to provide guidelines for employees who want to have blogs. This primarily relates to employee's personal blogs and lays out the guidelines of what the company expects. As expected, policies will vary greatly depending on company circumstance. Here are a few examples and also, my variation.

Li, Charlene. Socialtext (2006). Articles>Business Communication>Blogging>Policies and Procedures


The Guilty Pleasure of Writing Policy and Procedure Documents

We have a number of projects running at the moment that involve us improving organisations’ policy and procedures documents. It may not seem likely, but these projects are enormous fun.

Pratt, Ellis. Cherryleaf (2012). Articles>Documentation>Policies and Procedures>Business Communication


How Reading Levels Impact Writing Policies and Procedures

When you are writing policies and procedures, probably the last thing you have on your mind is the reading level of the document. Would it surprise you to learn that the reading level impacts the document's effectiveness in a very specific way? How can your readers understand, follow, or implement a policy or a procedure if they do not understand it?

Hibbard, Catherine S. Cypress Media Group (2010). Articles>Business Communication>Policies and Procedures>Audience Analysis


How to Write a Disaster Recovery Plan

Tragic events are a part of life. While we can't predict them, we can prepare for them. Here are some tips on how to write a disaster recovery plan that will keep your organization operating during and after such events.

HelpScribe (2008). Articles>Business Communication>Crisis Communication>Policies and Procedures


It's a Matter of Policy

Policies set boundaries for what is acceptable and unacceptable. But what makes a policy effective? Discover the basic components of a good corporate policy.

Zvalo, Peter. Writer's Block (1999). Articles>Business Communication>Policies and Procedures


Language Policies and Communication in Multinational Companies: Alignment With Strategic Orientation and Human Resource Management Practices   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

This article focuses on the degree of alignment among multinational company (MNC) strategic orientation, human resource management (HRM) practices, and language policies. On the one hand, the authors propose that the coherent, tight alignment among the HRM practices, language policies, and MNC strategic orientation, in terms of ethnocentricity, polycentricity, or geocentricity, is beneficial. On the other hand, they use international business research on language in MNCs to illustrate that what is good in theory is often more difficult in practice. For example, HRM practices and language policies in foreign subsidiaries may not be tightly aligned with the corporate-level activities, and some hybridization tends to occur, for example, because of contextual reasons in host countries.

van den Born, Floor and Vesa Peltokorpi. JBC (2010). Articles>Business Communication>International>Policies and Procedures


Legal Consequences of Employer Discharge Procedures   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

The employment contract is sometimes misunderstood by both employees and employers. Drafters of employee manuals, policies, and procedures should be aware that the nature of the at-will employment relationship can be transformed into a binding employment contract by the words and phrases chosen. Just imagine the following scenario: On his first day as an Otis Accounting firm employee, Eric was provided an employee manual outlining all firm policies and procedures. Eric was not provided a written employment contract. Despite exemplary work performance at Otis Accounting for more than 2 years, Eric was fired because his supervisor, who belonged to one political party, discovered a bumper sticker for a candidate from the opposing party on Eric's car. Devastated by the unexpected dismissal, Eric sued for wrongful termination. To determine its potential liability, Otis Accounting must first ascertain the nature of its employment relationship with Eric.

Joseph, Stephanie. Business Communication Quarterly (2008). Articles>Business Communication>Policies and Procedures>Contracts


Managing Culture Change Within the Context of Mergers and Acquisitions

The generic term “mergers & acquisitions (M&A)” appeared for the first time at the end of the 19th century in the United States. In times of increased global competition, M&A activities have reached all regions of the world and are not solely concerning large enterprises. However, with many M&A projects never reaching the synergy effects that were expected of them, the successful integration of one company into another remains a challenge.

Bialek, Chantal. TC World (2008). Articles>Business Communication>Workplace>Policies and Procedures


More Than Just Finding Policy Documents

Corporate policy documents have had a long and difficult history within many organisations. While much effort has been put into creating and maintaining them, they are often more ignored than followed. This briefing looks at the role of corporate policies within an organisation, and the need to better communicate their message to staff.

Robertson, James. Step Two (2004). Articles>Business Communication>Policies and Procedures


New Opportunities for Policies and Procedures Writers   (PDF)

International standards are becoming more and more prevalent in the business world, and their development and implementation offer new opportunities for technical communicators working in policies and procedures (P&P). Depending on the industry in which it operates, a company could find itself required to meet the dictates of international standards such as ISO 9001 for quality management systems and ISO 14001 for environmental management systems; regulatory standards such as Sarbanes-Oxley and 21 CFR Part 11; and industry-specific standards from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE), or the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C).

Robinson, Ralph E. Intercom (2005). Articles>Business Communication>Policies and Procedures


Policies and Procedures Can Help Your Organization

Compliance and meeting operational needs are two very important reasons for implementing a system of policies and procedures.

Bizmanualz (2007). Articles>Business Communication>Documentation>Policies and Procedures


Policies and Procedures Communication Becoming More Suitable for Learning

Three workplace trends are driving policies and procedures (P&P) communication to be more suitable for learning than classroom training: changing workforce needs; e-content availability; and changing organizational needs.

Urgo, Raymond E. Policies and Procedures Authority, The (2008). Articles>Business Communication>Policies and Procedures>Education


Policies and Procedures for Training and Reference: One Source?

Should an organization maintain two sets of policies and procedure (P&P) information—one that is developed for training and another that is developed for on-going reference?

Urgo, Raymond E. Policies and Procedures Authority, The (2008). Articles>Documentation>Business Communication>Policies and Procedures


Policy and Procedure Communication and the Lone Writer   (PDF)

As a lone writer developing policy and procedure documentation, many of us face what appear to be insurmountable hurdles in reaching our intended goal – useable documentation that accurately reflects the business’ operations. It usually begins with trying to get everyone to take the need for P & P documentation seriously. This can be followed by frustrations in getting the information required to write coherent and useful documentation. Then there is the need for standards for which no one sees the importance – ‘just a whim of the writer’. Add to this volatile mix the requirements of many international standards impacting how business is conducted, and you wonder why anyone in right mind would take up the challenges of this field of writing. But it really can be fun and a very rewarding field of endeavor.

Mason, Susan, Rich Maggiani, Julia Margulies and Ralph E. Robinson. STC Proceedings (2002). Articles>Documentation>Policies and Procedures>Business Communication


Sun Guidelines on Public Discourse

Sun Microsystems' policies about employee blogging: "You are encouraged to tell the world about your work, without asking permission first, but we expect you to read and follow the advice in this note."

Sun Microsystems (2008). Articles>Business Communication>Blogging>Policies and Procedures


Why Do You Need To Write Procedures?

Your organization needs procedures. While development and implementation can be a challenging project, there are dividends and returns on your investment if you understand why you are writing them and what you expect to achieve by documenting your processes.

Bizmanualz (2007). Articles>Business Communication>Documentation>Policies and Procedures


Why is it so Difficult to Maintain Accurate Process Documentation Across an IT Organization?

I saw this question posed in a discussion on LinkedIn, and thought that it deserved an answer from an IT Process Automation (ITPA) perspective. One respondent to the question stated it well: "The answer is simple, if there is not a common bond and governance mechanism between process documentation and the technology that is executing the process, the documentation eventually atrophies and collects dust." In my days as an independent ITIL consultant, I found that training and getting personnel to use process as part of their daily routine was at least as difficult as maintaining and updating process documentation. There is a chasm between theory and practice when it comes to process execution.

Greene, Travis. NetIQ (2009). Articles>Business Communication>Documentation>Policies and Procedures


Writing Clear Policies and Procedures with Playscript   (PDF)

The Playscript procedure writing style is widely known for its plain language, content organization, readability and usability for all kinds of audiences. Developed by Leslie Matthies over 40 years ago, Playscript has been used by hundreds of leading (and other) organizations worldwide as their procedure standard. Major consulting firms have trained their professional staff in its use as a primary work process documentation technique. Extending several of Playscript’s design elements to policy writing provides an organization with policies and procedures that have a uniform look and feel. A leading publisher recently did this, using Playscript as the style model for their commercially produced Controller's Policies and Procedures Manual.

Fleming, J. Richard. STC Proceedings (1999). Articles>Business Communication>Policies and Procedures


Writing Government Policies and Procedures in Plain Language   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

Ask ordinary citizens for an example of unreadable prose, and half of them will show you a government document; the other half will point to something written by a lawyer. As a government lawyer for more than 30 years, I wrote and reviewed safety regulations and technical policies and procedures for a major federal agency and eventually supervised other lawyers who did the same. Although I never met a technical document I didn't have the urge to rewrite, I always thought that what my fellow lawyers wrote was pretty clear. Then the plain-language movement came along, and I found I had a lot of room for improvement.

Byrne, Don. Business Communication Quarterly (2008). Articles>Business Communication>Policies and Procedures>Minimalism


Writing Policies and Procedures   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

Over the years, I have had several enlightening and eventful encounters as I helped to develop organization policies and procedures. Most recently, when we voted to approve the revised mission statement for our business school, faculty members cheered and uttered sighs of relief. For months, we had debated every word, phrase, sentence, and paragraph in the many drafts we created. We were often reminded that the statement should conform to the mission of the larger university and that it should be readily understood by the average reader. The most contentious issue was how we could articulate the historical legacy of the minority-serving institution yet focus on its future as a full-fledged member of a highly regarded university system. We sought the advice of the chancellor, provost, advisory board, students, community members, and business owners, among others.

Muir, Clive. Business Communication Quarterly (2008). Articles>Business Communication>Policies and Procedures

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