A directory of resources inthe field of technical communication.

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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


Developing a Communication Strategy for a Research Institute   (PDF)

For an organization with a broad mission to improve the state of the practice in a domain, effective communication is essential. Our team developed a communication strategy for creating clear and consistent messages and for making the best use of resources for communication work. Our communication strategy defines products and internal processes for optimizing communication with our most important stakeholders, organizational decision makers in the software engineering community.

Pollak, Bill and Anne Humphreys. STC Proceedings (1998). Articles>Communication>Policies and Procedures


Forgotten Media for Communicating Policies and Procedures

Mention the words, “media for communicating policies and procedures (P&P),” and most people automatically think of printed bound manuals or binders, electronic document files on a server or intranet, or content on a Web site. Although these media are popular and often formal in nature, let’s not forget that there are other types of media that organizations may use to communicate their P&P.

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


Public Rhetoric and Public Safety at the Chicago Transit Authority: Three Approaches to Accident Analysis   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

This article compares three rhetorical approaches to accident analysis: materialist, classical,and constructivist. The focal points for comparison are the two accident reportsissued by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB)—reports that attempted(and failed) to persuade the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) to change a problematicpolicy about rail communication alongside its technology for rail communication. Thecentral question the article asks is, How can rhetorical theory help explain the CTA'sinaction, which ultimately led to property damage, injury, and death? Classical andconstructivist approaches, emphasizing rational deliberation between equals, on onehand, and the social construction of technical knowledge between professionals, on theother, offer plausible explanations for what went wrong. But only the materialistapproach appears capable of discerning the ideological nature of the CTA's resistance tothe NTSB's recommendations.

Coogan, David. STC Proceedings (2002). Articles>Risk Communication>Policies and Procedures>Government


Siting a Hazardous Waste Facility: The Tangled Web of Risk Communication

Risk communication is a relatively new field of study which has been concerned with the problems arising from the communication of scientific and technical assessments of risk to various sections of the public. These problems have largely been construed as technical ones: how to transfer difficult material from 'experts' to 'people' with the maximum effectiveness and the minimum loss of accuracy and content. Perhaps because technical or practical concerns have dominated, debates which have occurred in the literature of risk analysis have apparently had little impact on the field of risk communication.

Beder, Sharon and Michael Shortland. University of Wollongong (1992). Articles>Risk Communication>Government>Policies and Procedures


Style Rules for Job Position Names and Titles in Policies & Procedures

Have you struggled with job position names and titles in your policies and procedures (P&P) content? Here are several style rules to follow.

Urgo, Raymond E. Policies and Procedures Authority, The (2009). Articles>Style Guides>Policies and Procedures>Organizational 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


Understanding the Organizational Context to Develop Valuable Policies & Procedures

As a policies and procedures (P&P) practitioner, do you delve into P&P content development projects without a clear understanding of the organizational context? Astute P&P practitioners add more than documentation skills to assignments--they apply an understanding of the organizational context from three perspectives.

Urgo, Raymond E. Policies and Procedures Authority, The (2009). Articles>Workplace>Organizational Communication>Policies and Procedures



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