A directory of resources inthe field of technical communication.


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Are You Interruptable?

I’m permanently interruptable because that’s my job. It took me quite a while to realise this, and getting yourself into a position to be interruptable isn’t all that easy. You need a good team around you (which I have) and you need to trust them and delegate to them as much as you can (I trust them, and I’m working on that delegation thing!).

McLean, Gordon. One Man Writes (2010). Articles>Workplace>Management>Collaboration


Breaking the Chain of Command: Making Sense of Employee Circumvention   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

This study explores how employees accounted for their engagement in circumvention (i.e., dissenting by going around or above one's supervisor). Employees completed a survey instrument in which they provided a dissent account detailing a time when they chose to practice circumvention. Results indicated that employees accounted for circumvention through supervisor inaction, supervisor performance, and supervisor indiscretion. In addition, findings revealed how employees framed circumvention in ways that enhanced the severity and principled nature of the issues about which they chose to dissent.

Kassing, Jeffrey W. JBC (2009). Articles>Management>Workplace>Ethnographies


The Challenge of Line Manager Communication

There is a great deal of research around these days that makes the connection between employee engagement and good line manager communication. After all, as the saying goes, people don’t leave bad companies, they leave bad managers. The reality is there are many elements that make a bad manager. As communication professionals, we are not there to solve all the problems of socially challenged managers, but we do need to help them fulfill their role in effectively communicating to their people.

Cropley, Adrian. Communication World Bulletin (2007). Articles>Business Communication>Management>Workplace


Choose Sunwest: One Airline's Organizational Communication Strategies in A Campaign Against the Teamsters Union   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

This article presents a qualitative text analysis of persuasive documents written by a major U.S. airline in a 2004 counter-campaign against the Teamsters union. The methodology for this study is based on Stephen Toulmin's argument model, including his "double triad" and his interpretation of artistic proofs, which parallel the three classical rhetorical appeals. Actual corporate documents are featured in this article, supported by content from management conference calls that were attended by the researchers. The article concludes with implications for teaching and research in the field of technical and professional communication.

Ortiz, Lorelei A. and Julie Dyke Ford. Journal of Technical Writing and Communication (2007). Articles>Business Communication>Management>Workplace


Corporate Size and Knowledge Management

The more knowledge is hoarded, the less productive we were able to become. It’s difficult to get beyond that “sharing for the benefit of the whole” stigma, but when you can it can be a wonderful thing.

Hauser, Lisa. STC NJIT Student Chapter (2005). Articles>Knowledge Management>Workplace


Creating Leaders: On the Front Lines and Beyond

Companies such as GE, Procter & Gamble, General Mills, McKinsey, IBM, FedEx and others began building their leadership engines by doing what any great team does: putting the right people in the right leadership positions in the first place. They then strengthen the leaders’ skills and knowledge and rigorously hold them accountable for hitting their operating and financial targets. Let’s peek under the hood at these leadership engines to see how these great companies not only create but sustain leadership engines that continuously produce strong leaders.

Shaffer, Jim. Communication World Bulletin (2007). Articles>Education>Management>Workplace


Cultural Blindness

It struck me while reading this that cultural blind spots are not limited to people who speak a different language, come from a different country, or have a different religious background—we have huge cultural blind spots between the various job functions in a single company!

Sprezzatura Systems (2007). Articles>Management>Workplace


Decaf Resistance: On Misbehavior, Cynicism, and Desire in Liberal Workplaces   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

The author reconnects resistance in production to its radical roots. Current literature suggests that resistance in the liberal workplaces of late capitalism has gone underground, becoming mostly evident in unofficial, offstage practices such as cynicism, parody, and humor. The author argues this resistance is too often a decaf resistance. This is a resistance without the cost of radically changing the economy of enjoyment, which ties us to our master. The author argues that resistance, as a real act, which suspends and changes the constellation of power relations, has a cost that cannot be accounted for in advance. To understand this cost, we need an ethics, which the author calls, following Lacan, the Ethics of the Real.

Contu, Alessia. Management Communication Quarterly (2008). Articles>Management>Workplace


Eight Ways to Kill Your ECM Project

A list of eight things any project manager should do if they wish to ensure that an enterprise content management project will fail.

Digital Landfill (2010). Articles>Content Management>Project Management>Workplace


The Fox and the Hedgehog Go to Work: A Natural History of Workplace Collusion   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

The author argues that an ironic approach to collusion can help shift the focus of resistance away from the relatively rare events surrounding implacable opposition or total unanimity to the quotidian aspects of workplace politics. Collusion is characterized as an outcome of organizational politics conducted between the traditionally opposed parties of radical industrial sociology (i.e., managers and workers) under the guidance of an ironic mode of cognition. Irony is depicted as a foxlike way of gaining 'a perspective on perspectives,' which provides a means of understanding stalemate, accommodation, and collusion by showing how opposing ideological positions are indebted. It also illuminates the moments when collusion breaks down and resisting parties become implacably opposed hedgehogs (one position prevails over the other), leading to overt conflict and resistance.

Sewell, Graham. Management Communication Quarterly (2008). Articles>Management>Workplace>Collaboration


Getting Over the Barriers to Wiki Adoption

Rarely does anyone articulate an actual business reason why the speaker feels that a wiki isn't a worthwhile tool for collaboration in his or her environment, such as a lack of need. When I ask deeper questions, I invariably find that the objection isn't to the wiki technology itself, but instead to the concept of collaborative authoring and a perceived loss of control over the content.

Porter, Alan J. Ars Technica (2010). Articles>Content Management>Wikis>Workplace


How to Encourage Good Use of SharePoint

Many organizations are adopting Microsoft SharePoint as a content management system, and view it as a low-cost alternative to a high-end content management system. However, just because an organization has SharePoint, does not mean that everyone is aware it is available.

Dick, David J. Carolina Communique (2011). Articles>Content Management>Workplace>Collaboration


Industry Takes Up The Challenge Of Sustainability   (PDF)

Around the world, especially in Europe, companies are discovering that they have much to gain by employing the techniques of environmental management. They find that they are helping themselves, while improving the world we live in at the same time. By reviewing the effect on the environment caused by products and production methods, companies save money, improve their image, motivate employees and expand their influence, while often gaining new market shares because of better and more sustainable products. The stories of some of these companies are followed by guidelines for involving employees in environmental management to improve results and motivation.

Yelverton, Bonnie. STC Proceedings (2003). Articles>Management>Workplace


International Corporations and Cross-Border Knowledge Transfer in the Semiconductor Industry

Are international corporations superior to markets and alliances in facilitating the flow of knowledge between countries? Despite widespread acknowledgement of the superior efficiency of the firm in international knowledge transfer, the theory remains underdeveloped, and empirical support is conspicuous by its absence. This paper has two primary goals. First, to use patent citation data to compare the relative performances of firms, alliances, and markets in the transfer of technological knowledge between countries. Second, to investigate the reasons for the superior capability of the international corporation in facilitating cross-border knowledge flows by examining the mechanisms through which international firms manage international technology transfer. Our findings confirm the superior performance of firms over both alliances and markets as conduits for the flow of knowledge between countries. A more detailed examination of the experiences of five large semiconductor firms suggests that this superiority is the result of its ability to utilize a wide range of knowledge transfer mechanisms flexibly and in combinations with one another, and to embed these transfer mechanisms within a social context that enhances their effectiveness.

Carnegie Bosch Institute (1998). Articles>Knowledge Management>Workplace


Knowledge Management in the Workplace: the Librarian as Knowledge Broker

The role of knowledge brokers as the gatekeepers of information is vital for successful knowledge management. In this context, the role of librarians who act as knowledge brokers in creating a market for both buyers and sellers often goes unnoticed. Librarians with their access to information and people, bridge the gap between knowledge seekers and knowledge.

Thaneerkulam, Chitra. STC NJIT Student Chapter (2005). Articles>Knowledge Management>User Centered Design>Workplace


Learning to Do Knowledge Work in Systems of Distributed Cognition   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

Within work sites that engage in knowledge work, newcomers have particular difficulty acquiring knowledge because knowledge keeps changing. Newcomers have to assimilate currently accepted knowledge while remaining open to learning and even generating new knowledge. Such acquisition and generation of communal knowledge are examples of distributed cognition. In workplaces engaging in knowledge work (where knowledge is the primary product), distributed cognition aims at a less stable goal than the one that Hutchins describes for ship navigation. A study of six summer interns in an engineering development center shows that, for them and their more experienced colleagues, learning did not precede activity but rather was the means by which they remained attuned to activity and able to function. Cognition was distributed not only among people but also among people and their tools. Communication tools were particularly important because communication was the means by which the system functioned as a unified whole.

Winsor, Dorothy A. Journal of Business and Technical Communication (2001). Articles>Workplace>Knowledge Management


The Link Between Leadership Style, Communicator Competence, and Employee Satisfaction   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

The current study examined the influence of supervisor communicator competence and leadership style on employee job and communication satisfaction. Participants were 220 individuals (116 men and 104 women) working full-time for a variety of companies in the Midwest. The findings indicated a strong relationship between supervisors' communicator competence and their task and relational leadership styles, with supervisor communicator competence being a stronger predictor of employee job and communication satisfaction. More specifically, the findings indicated that supervisor communicator competence accounted for 68% of the variance in subordinate communication satisfaction and nearly 18% of the variance in subordinate job satisfaction. More important, these findings provide an association between communication, leadership, and employee job and communication satisfaction.

Madlock, Paul E. JBC (2008). Articles>Management>Business Communication>Workplace


Managing Conflict

Conflict is characteristic in any situation that brings diverse groups together to manage tasks and obstacles. Nowhere is that more apparent than in business environments based on hierarchical structures where teams are inherited and divergent objectives create barriers to effective teamwork. Conflict resolution is among the many tasks delegated to managers, yet it is often the most difficult to master.

Harris, Kerri. Writing Assistance (2007). Articles>Management>Collaboration>Workplace


Moving UX into a Position of Corporate Influence: Whose Advice Really Works?

Was documenting and evangelizing (i.e., explaining and advocating for) UX work considered to be a critical component of what it took to move UX into a position of corporate influence? It was in some companies, but not in others.

Anderson, Richard I. uiGarden (2007). Articles>Management>User Experience>Workplace


My Paper Tiger is Purring

You know the adage that says it takes 21 days to create a habit? Practice has definitely established a new habit for me: It now feels comfortable to pick up a piece of paper and decide-on the spot-whether to throw it or keep it. And I'm thrilled to report that I'm throwing a lot more away the first time, rather than picking it up, putting it down, picking it up, putting it down. Who needs that kind of up and down exercise!

Book, Ruth. STC Central Iowa (2001). Articles>Workplace>Time Management


Organizational Culture 101: A Practical How-To For Interaction Designers

It’s happened to all of us. We walk into what we think is a Web redesign project, only to find we have unwittingly ignited the fires of WW III in our client’s organization. What begins as a simple design project descends – quickly – into an intra-organizational battle, with the unprepared interaction designer caught in the crossfire. What is it about design projects that seem to attract such power struggles? Contrary to what you might think, being stuck in the middle of an internecine battle is actually an opportunity to effect meaningful change on your client’s organization. But it requires a set of practical tools to negotiate these battles and a more sophisticated language and knowledge to exploit these events to create meaningful change.

Ladner, Sam. Johnny Holland (2009). Articles>Project Management>Interaction Design>Workplace


Our Stake in Struggle (Or Is Resistance Something Only Others Do?)   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

Encourages critical organization scholars to develop our stake in struggle in at least three ways: (a) by examining how the structure and practice of our own work enacts relations of power and resistance (i.e., reflexive, empirical study of organizational dynamics in higher education), (b) by considering how our experience of knowledge labor implicitly shapes our representations of organization (i.e., reflexive analyses of the relation between the process and products of scholarly production), and (c) by more explicitly accounting for our role as cultural agents in representing organizational life and inducting students into it (i.e., reflexive analyses of the relations among the labors of teaching, researching, and theorizing power and resistance).

Lee Ashcraft, Karen. Management Communication Quarterly (2008). Articles>Management>Organizational Communication>Workplace


Raising Your Documentation Team's Visibility

Whether the documentation department has a staff of one or a team of 12, visibility within the company is a frequent concern. The reasons for this concern range from personal to professional. You want to be remembered when promotions and bonuses are handed out. You want new challenges to add diversity to your workload, and new projects to add skills to your resume. You want to defend your turf against budget cuts and layoffs during lean economic times. And you want to be more than an afterthought that lives in the back 40 of the cubicle farm.

Potsus, Whitney Beth. TechCom Manager (2005). Articles>Management>Documentation>Workplace


Ready for the Enterprise?

A quick look at ten Open Source Content Management Systems which are beginning to find their way inside Enterprise IT Departments.

Shreves, Ric. Water and Stone (2006). Articles>Content Management>Open Source>Workplace


Resistance: Would Struggle by Any Other Name Be as Sweet?   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

Management in professionalized workplaces is often characterized as Mtrying to herd cats. Having grown up on a dairy farm, the characterization never made much sense to me. Cows and sheep earn our disparaging remarks because they are easy to push around. Their occasional resistance seems counter to their character. But cats are also easy to herd; just have milk. Cats may walk by themselves, but they quickly all choose to walk in the same direction following the pail. Cats may quickly resist getting pushed in common directions, but they are easily pulled there. Got milk, got cats. Are cats more autonomous than the herds? Has resisting cats led us to overlook how easy they are to herd? Resistance comes to us as a term growing out of workplaces that tried to push and direct. Resistance was at least a pushing back; sometimes it was an organized pushing for another direction.

Deetz, Stanley. Management Communication Quarterly (2008). Articles>Management>Workplace>Cultural Theory



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