A directory of resources inthe field of technical communication.

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1.
#31395

Adding an Informal Touch to Organizational Communication

Some say it's a revolution that will change radio broadcasting and people's listening habits forever. Others say it's a fad that's of limited appeal or use to anyone but geeks and enthusiasts. Whatever anyone says, something that has rocketed out of nowhere and gotten big companies and radio stations alike interested (and after only eight months) must be worth investigating. That "something" is called podcasting.

Hobson, Neville. Communication World Bulletin (2005). Articles>Business Communication>Rhetoric>Workplace

2.
#30386

Applying the Elaboration Likelihood Model to Technical Recommendation Reports   (PDF)

Elaboration Likelihood Model (ELM) can help proposal writers identify effective document design techniques and parts of arguments that are critical to persuasion. In addition, ELM has implications for other types of technical communication, including recommendation or feasibility reports. While one would anticipate that decision-makers would be willing and able to evaluate critically all arguments presented in a recommendation report, ELM explains why this is rarely so. Therefore, technical communicators can profit by understanding and using the two routes to persuasion or attitude shift, the central and peripheral routes, explained by ELM.

Engle, Carol. STC Proceedings (1993). Articles>Business Communication>Reports>Rhetoric

3.
#36247

Beyond Persuasion: The Rhetoric of Negotiation in Business Communication   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

This essay describes and provides a rationale for the Rhetoric of Negotiation as a useful frame for what is typically considered persuasion in business communication. It argues for a broader understanding of the opposition and draws from Eckhouse’s work on business communication as a competitive activity as well as Booth’s concept of Win-Rhetoric versus Listening-Rhetoric. Using illustrations from the author’s previous research, this commentary proposes that the Rhetoric of Negotiation is useful in business communication for both ethical and practical reasons.

King, Cynthia L. JBC (2010). Articles>Business Communication>Rhetoric

4.
#13608

Corporatespeak: Deconstructing the New Language of Business

Business has a language all its own that changes almost daily. It is a language that is limiting, that denies possibility, and that excludes creative thinking. It is also the language with which industry players must grapple in their struggle to make money from new technology.

Leiper, Jeff. Writer's Block (2002). Articles>Business Communication>Rhetoric

5.
#25337
6.
#36989

Disciplinary Identities: Professional Writing, Rhetorical Studies, and Rethinking "English"   (PDF)   (peer-reviewed)

Few of us in professional and technical writing or rhetoric and composition have avoided the turf wars that often accompany the development or revision of curricula within English departments. At institutions across the country, faculty in these areas have attempted to carve a niche for themselves, often in the midst of heated resistance. When we, along with several of our tenured and untenured colleagues in the areas of rhetoric, linguistics, and professional writing, proposed a curriculum for an undergraduate concentration in “Rhetorical Studies and Professional Writing” (RSPW) as one option for English majors at East Carolina University (a regional state university with approximately four thousand graduate and sixteen thousand undergraduate students), we certainly felt some heat.

Henze, Brent, Wendy Sharer and Janice Tovey. WAC Clearinghouse (2009). Articles>Education>Rhetoric>Business Communication

7.
#36913

Do Their Words Really Matter? Thematic Analysis of U.S. and Latin American CEO Letters   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

This study compares the annual report letters written by the CEOs of 30 U.S.-based companies and 24 Latin American—based companies listed on the New York Stock Exchange. Using a grounded theory approach, the authors thematically analyzed both sets of letters to ascertain common topics, stylistic (writing) features, and embedded cultural attributes. They found that although both sets of letters share much regulatory and financial information, the Latin American letters are characterized by a richer mix of topics, a more complex writing style, and evidence of cultural dimensions as conceptualized by the research of scholars such as Geert Hofstede and Edward T. Hall. Their work is founded on the belief that corporate documents exist to communicate more than factual information to their constituencies. Rather, the purpose of corporate writers is to influence public opinion and attitudes, particularly among potential investors, in ways that create support for organizational practices or undermine opposition to them.

Conaway, Roger N. and William J. Wardrope. JBC (2010). Articles>Business Communication>Management>Rhetoric

8.
#34855

Employee Voice Behavior: Interactive Effects of LMX and Power Distance in the United States and Colombia   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

In contemporary organizations, competitive advantage can come from ideas employees communicate to supervisors for improving processes, products, and services. One approach to studying employee communications with supervisors is voice behavior. In this research, the authors consider leader— member exchange (LMX) and the individual cultural value orientation of power distance (PD) as predictors of voice. Two studies, conducted in different countries, demonstrate the unique and combined effects of these predictors. In Study 1, conducted in the United States, LMX was positively related to voice, PD was negatively related to voice, and PD made more of a difference in voice when LMX was high. In Study 2, conducted in Colombia, LMX and PD were both related to voice but did not interact. The authors discuss the implications for theory and practice.

Botero, Isabel C. and Linn Van Dyne. Management Communication Quarterly (2009). Articles>Business Communication>Management>Rhetoric

9.
#37917

Ghosting Authenticity: Characterization in Corporate Speechwriting   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

One of the most distinctive stylistic virtues of speechwriting is characterization, the art of capturing a client’s voice in a believable and engaging manner. This article examines characterization in the context of corporate communication, interweaving an interview with veteran executive speechwriter Alan Perlman with accounts from the ancient rhetorical tradition. As the analysis shows, Perlman’s approach to characterization confirms long-standing rhetorical wisdom yet incorporates insights that reflect the contemporary corporate context in which he has worked. The analysis also calls attention to enduring tensions in characterization—tensions between imitation and representation, effectiveness and ethics, and dramatic character and trustworthy ethos.

Bruss, Kristine S. Journal of Business and Technical Communication (2011). Articles>Business Communication>Rhetoric>Collaboration

10.
#35458

How To Persuade Your Users, Boss or Clients

Whether you are getting a client to sign off on a website’s design or persuade a user to complete a call to action, we all need to know how to be convincing. Like many in the Web design industry, I have a strange job. I am part salesperson, part consultant and part user experience designer. One day I could be pitching a new idea to a board of directors, the next I might be designing an e-commerce purchasing process. There is, however, a common theme: I spend most of my time persuading people.

Boag, Paul. Smashing (2009). Articles>Business Communication>Collaboration>Rhetoric

11.
#29381

How To Use the Six Laws of Persuasion during a Negotiation   (members only)

In order to be successful, you must master the persuasion process, which will enable you to deliberately create the attitude change and subsequent actions necessary for persuading others to your way of thinking. In other words, you have to be able to 'sell' your ideas in order to make changes in your favor and, in a win-win situation, provide the other side with a fair deal.

Greer, Edrie. TechRepublic (2006). Articles>Business Communication>Rhetoric

12.
#34849

"In Case You Didn't Hear Me the First Time": An Examination of Repetitious Upward Dissent   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

This study explores how employees express dissent to management about the same issue on multiple occasions across time (i.e., how they practice repetition). Employees completed a survey instrument reporting how often they used varying upward dissent tactics, how often and for how long they raised the same issue, and how they perceived their supervisors responded to their concerns. Results indicate that employees relied predominantly on competent upward dissent tactics but that they adopted less competent and more face-threatening tactics as repetition progressed. In addition, employees' perceptions of their supervisors' responses to repetition related to the overall duration of repetition but not to the frequency with which employees raised issues or the amount of time that elapsed between dissent episodes.

Kassing, Jeffrey W. Management Communication Quarterly (2009). Articles>Business Communication>Management>Rhetoric

13.
#36915

The Influence of High- and Low-Context Communication Styles On the Design, Content, and Language of Business-To-Business Web Sites   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

Language and communication, especially high- versus low-context communication styles, have been shown to lead to differences in Web sites. Low-context communication provides the lowest common denominator for intercultural communication through the Internet by making messages linear, articulated, explicit, and therefore easier to understand in the absence of contextual clues. Based on theories of intercultural business communication and recent empirical studies, this article investigates how communication styles influence Web site design and content. It is hypothesized that, for the global audience, Web sites from low-context communication countries are easier to find, use colors and graphics more effectively, make navigation more user-friendly, contain more corporate and product information cues, and offer more contract- and relationship-related content than Web sites from high-context communication countries. This article also contributes to international business communication by investigating the choice of languages in business-to-business (B2B) Web sites. Empirical findings confirm the influence of high- versus low-context communication styles through systematic content analysis of 597 B2B Web sites in 57 countries. High-context communication style may be detrimental to the design of global Web sites, making them less readable, less effective in their use of colors and graphics, and less interactive for the globally dispersed users.

Usunier, Jean-Claude and Nicolas Roulin. JBC (2010). Articles>Web Design>Business Communication>Rhetoric

14.
#29029

The Influence of the Purpose of a Business Document on Its Syntax and Rhetorical Schemes   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

This study attempts to show how the purpose of three types of business and technical documents (instructions, annual reports, and sales promotional letters) affects the syntactical and rhetorical choices authors make in writing these documents. While the results of the examination rendered some predictable results, there were some surprises in the absence of many rhetorical schemes in sales promotional letters. Another value of this study is that it provides partial syntactical and rhetorical "fingerprints" of three important documents in business and technical writing to offer students norms they can go by in constructing such documents.

Myers, Marshall. Journal of Technical Writing and Communication (1999). Articles>Business Communication>Rhetoric

15.
#31251

Internal Communication: Let's Be Clear

Internal communication isn't generally seen as a direct, short-term contributor to the bottom line, and therefore it is not considered "hot." More to the point though, people's understanding of what communication is and how it can work is extremely varied and often plain wrong. It seems that what makes internal communication "hot" is still mainly understood only in professional communication circles.

Bogaard, Lindsay. Communication World Bulletin (2007). Articles>Business Communication>Rhetoric

16.
#31980

Introduction to the Forum on Meaning/ful Work Studies in Organizational Communication   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

On the first day of Nikki's undergraduate seminar, Organizing Work, she Oasks students to list the idioms and phrases commonly used to make sense of the 'work' experience. She shares the example of her father repeat- edly using the phrase 'daily grind' when she was growing up (important to note, he was not referring to the ubiquitous Starbucks of today). Slowly but surely, the chalkboard fills with an array of idiomatic expressions: 'on the clock,' 'work like a dog,' 'all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy,' 'work your fingers to the bone,' 'all in a day's work,' and a host of others, including the Marxian favorite, 'a fair day's pay for a fair day's work.' Students are asked to reflect on the meanings embedded within the list and how language constitutes cultural meanings and values of work. As such an exercise should make abundantly clear, work and meaning would seem to be central to our study of organizational communication. Our talk about work both embodies and structures individual and social under- standings, attitudes, and actions. Yet, the meanings associated with work and the notion of work as meaningful have not been foci of study within our dis- cipline. Indeed, the term work is not even indexed in the New Handbook of Organizational Communication (Jablin and Putnam, 2001), and a search of the EBSCO database found not a single article with work and either meaning or meaningful in the title in a communication journal. Given contemporary devel- opments that make work more central to people's lives as well as less secure, the question of what work means to people and how such meanings contribute to or detract from a sense of purpose or dignity in people's lives is important to consider.

Zorn, Theodore E. and Nikki Townsley. Management Communication Quarterly (2008). Articles>Business Communication>Organizational Communication>Rhetoric

17.
#31486

Make Your Internal Communications Memorable with Strategic Storytelling

Jean-Paul Sartre said, “We understand everything in human life through stories.” I believe that is true. We comprehend better when a message is related in story form, and we also feel a stronger rapport with the person telling the story. Why not use these memorable stories in your internal communications? When you cram too much information into a communication, training session or presentation, you’re doing a data dump on your listener. Nothing sticks. Yet, if you’ve ever had a supervisor tell a story to illustrate a point, you learned the lesson and probably enjoyed the learning process, too.

Stevenson, Doug. Communication World Bulletin (2004). Articles>Business Communication>Workplace>Rhetoric

18.
#33413

Nobody Wants to Read a Stupid Blog

Maybe your business isn’t a massage clinic, but you are probably as passionate about the heart of your business as my client is about hers. I’m not talking about what you do. I’m talking about your business being an extension of who you are. For your business, I believe a blog is the answer. But not a stupid blog.

Chung, Tony. Duo Consulting (2008). Articles>Business Communication>Blogging>Rhetoric

19.
#35145

Obfuscating the Obvious: Miscommunication Issues in the Interpretation of Common Terms   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

We communicate via many forms every day. When what we say or write is misunderstood, the fault may lie with either party. One source of miscommunication is the different meaning people place on commonly used words and phrases. In this article, the authors report preliminary results from a study on such miscommunication and lay out an agenda for research on improving business communication based on the Integrative Model of Levels of Analysis of 'Miscommunication,' developed by Coupland, Wiemann, and Giles.

Brewer, Edward C. and Terrence L. Holmes. JBC (2009). Articles>Business Communication>Collaboration>Rhetoric

20.
#20878

Paradigm Dissonance: A Significant Factor in Design and Business Problems

Identifying paradigm dissonance as a source of problems isn't new, but creating a framework for dealing with this problem in a business and design environment moves this idea in a new direction.

Withrow, Jason and Mark Geljon. Boxes and Arrows (2003). Articles>Business Communication>Rhetoric

21.
#29082

Persuasive Techniques Used in Fundraising Messages   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

Based on an analysis of 63 fundraising packages representing 46 nonprofit organizations, as well as research in trade journals and other secondary sources, this study discusses a variety of persuasive techniques used in fundraising messages to accomplish their missions. The fundraising package consists of the carrier envelope, the fundraising letter, the reply form, the reply envelope, and optional enclosures such as brochures, small gifts for the reader, and surveys to complete. These parts work together to perform the following tasks: 1) persuade recipients to open the envelope and read the letter; 2) convince readers a serious but not unsolvable problem exists; 3) make readers want to help solve the problem; 4) convince readers they can help by giving to the appealing organization; 5) tell readers what the organization needs them to do; and 6) make it easy to comply.

Spears, Lee A. Journal of Technical Writing and Communication (2002). Articles>Business Communication>Correspondence>Rhetoric

22.
#24523

Power Emails: How to Write Them

Most emails have lousy subject lines, are too wordy, and probably are deleted unread, read but not responded to, or filtered out as spam. Learn how to avoid these fates by composing Power Emails that are legal, ethical, and effective.

Streight, Steven. Blogger.com (2004). Articles>Business Communication>Correspondence>Rhetoric

23.
#33504

Rethinking Loci Communes and Burkean Transcendence   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

In situations of potential business change, the cooperation of various direct and indirect stakeholders (i.e., employees, customers, shareholders, neighbors) is crucial. The alternative policy courses may all be reasonable, and yet none of them may be clearly best for all stakeholders; support for an option must be cultivated through public rhetoric. Loci communes and Burkean transcendence are two potent rhetorical strategies that can help business leaders publicly weigh and civilly advocate a policy position relative to competing alternatives. This article develops and illustrates that argument by analyzing the public rhetoric involved in AirTran's attempt to build support for its hostile takeover of Midwest Airlines and Midwest's successful resistance to that attempt. Midwest's deft development of the transcendent term value helped it circumvent the initial deadlock between its preferred loci communes (i.e., the existent and quality) and AirTran's (i.e., the possible and quantity). The article advances a rationale and call for rhetorical scholarship to adopt more situated, social practice views of loci communes and transcendence.

Olson, Kathryn M. Journal of Business and Technical Communication (2009). Articles>Business Communication>Rhetoric>Civic

24.
#35147

The Role of Leader Motivating Language in Employee Absenteeism   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

This study investigates the relationship between strategic leader language (as embodied in Motivating Language Theory) and employee absenteeism. With a structural equation model, two perspectives were measured for the impact of leader spoken language: employee attitudes toward absenteeism and actual attendance. Results suggest that leader language does in fact have a positive, significant relationship with work attendance through the mediation effect of worker attendance attitude.

Mayfield, Jacqueline and Milon Mayfield. JBC (2009). Articles>Business Communication>Management>Rhetoric

25.
#30159

A Systematic Approach to Visual Language in Business Communication   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

Although business communication relies heavily on the visual, current approaches to graphics and text design are prescriptive and unsystematic. A 12-cell schema of visual coding modes and levels provides a model for describing and evaluating business documents as flexible systems of visual language. Emphasizing clarity and objectivity, the 'information design' movement has generated guidelines for creating functional visual displays. However, visual language in business communication is seldom rhetorically 'neutral' and requires adaptation to the contextual variables of each document, a goal the writer can achieve by com bining visual and verbal planning in the same holistic process.

Kostelnick, Charles. JBC (1988). Articles>Business Communication>Document Design>Visual Rhetoric

 
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