Artist Communication: An Interdisciplinary Business and Professional Communication Course

ghozt_tramp_-_business_communication_duplicat_model-e1533666580253.jpg[We’re pleased to welcome author Dr. Stephen Carradini of Arizona State University. He recently published an article in the Business and Professional Communication Quarterly entitled “Artist Communication: An Interdisciplinary Business and Professional Communication Course which is currently free to read for a limited time. Below, Dr. Carradini briefly describes his research and its significance.

BCQ_72ppiRGB_powerpointI was motivated to pursue the work behind “Artist Communication: An Interdisciplinary Business and Professional Communication Course” because I had an opportunity to design an interdisciplinary course. My professional background in arts and my current research and teaching interests in communication made a course on the professional communication of artists an easy fit. Many universities are moving toward interdisciplinary initiatives, so I thought that writing an article about the experience of developing and running this interdisciplinary course could be a strong contribution to the literature on interdisciplinary pedagogy.

The most challenging aspects of running this course and writing this article were in the interdisciplinary nature of it. I had to decide how to foreground the concepts of business communication while maintaining a focus on the artist’s work. This was not an art appreciation course, nor was it a strict business communication course. Instead, it was a course that blended the arts, business, and communication. This meant that some things I would definitely include in a more discipline-oriented course didn’t appear, such as reports. Things that I generally wouldn’t have included in a business communication course, such as press photos, became whole assignments of their own.

One good example of this interdisciplinary blend was an in-class assignment about playlists that I wasn’t able to mention in the larger article. I wanted students to understand streaming services as part of an artist’s career. To do this, I had my students create playlists on a streaming service that told a story. Students had a great deal of fun playing around with playlists and sharing them with each other. This interaction allowed students to see streaming services as a unique way to communicate (via playlists) and as a tool that musicians needed to use to distribute their music effectively. Drawing on that second point, I was then able to have a discussion about the career economics of music and the communication genres that artists engage in as part of their career-development process.

I hope this article begins to fill a gap in literature on the communication work that artists do. Not much work has been done in research or pedagogy on artist communication, and much of the research that has been done is housed in the field of Arts Entrepreneurship. Business communication does not have much in the way of literature on artist communication, despite the large amount of business and professional communication that artists must do. As a result, this article sits in a specific interdisciplinary space of artist communication. I hope that others will take up the interdisciplinary interest in the professional communication of artists.

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Communication Photo attributed to Free-Photos (CC)

How Anonymity and Visibility Affordances Influence Employees’ Decisions About Voicing Workplace Concerns

[We’re pleased to welcome authors Chang M. Mao and David C. DeAndrea of Ohio State University. They recently published an article in Management Communication Quarterly entitled “How Anonymity and Visibility Affordances Influence Employees’ Decisions About Voicing Workplace Concerns,” which is currently free to read for a limited time. Below, they reflect on the motivation and impact of this research:]

What motivated you to pursue this research?

We are very interested in studying the extent to which the prevalence of communication technology in organizational settings encourages or discourages employees from voicing their concerns at work. Some evidence suggests that technology increases employee participation whereas other research suggests that technological surveillance dampens employee participation. We designed an experiment to examine how features of communication technology affect the degree to which employees view channels to voice concerns as safe and efficacious. We first obtained some interesting findings from a college student sample (study 1). Then we replicated our findings with a more diverse population (Study 2).

Were there any specific external events—political, social, or economic—that influenced your decision to pursue this research?

In 2017, thousands of people disclosed their workplace sexual harassment on publically available social media under the #MeToo movement. The proliferation of the movement emphasizes the importance of our research. We discussed how important it is for management to establish safe and efficacious communication platforms for employees to voice their concerns within the boundaries of an organization. The #MeToo movement reveals the existing problematic status of many organizations; employees feel unsafe or ineffective in pointing out the malpractices of their organizations. As a consequence, people may seek out other ways to express themselves, such as posting on publically available social media, which may result in a lose-lose situation; the individual would face greater personal risk and the organization would lose the opportunity to correct problems and may have to manage a more deleterious public image crisis.

Were there any surprising findings?

We found significant support for the opposite of two of our hypotheses. We hypothesized that the more anonymous or the more public a communication platform was perceived to be, the less effective the platform would be. But, the data suggested the opposite: the less anonymous and less public a platform was perceived to be, the more effective the platform was. Considering that all safety hypotheses were supported, whereas efficacy hypotheses were not, we have speculated that employees evaluate safety before efficacy when they decide whether to voice their concerns or not. That is, when employees feel as though a voicing channel is unsafe, they do not envision using the channel and thus do not begin to consider whether voicing their concerns will lead to desired changes. Thus we would remind practitioners to pay close attention to employees’ safety concerns when management wishes to encourage participatory decision-making at work.

In what ways is your research innovative, and how do you think it will impact the field?

In this study, we adopted a perceived affordance lens to understand the effects of communication technology. In contrast to the inherent technology affordance perspective, the perceived affordance perspective emphasizes how people subjectively evaluate the qualities of communication technologies. We argue that what matters most is employees’ subjective evaluation of the communication platforms, such as the degree to which they perceive them be anonymous and the degree to which they believe their messages are private. We hope to emphasize the voluntaristic perspective of communication technology and its impact on organizational behaviors.

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Exploring the Determinants of Becoming a Mentor in Turkish Organizations

[We’re pleased to welcome authors Muhsine Itir Ozgen of Koc University, Tojo Thatchenkery of George Mason University, and James William Rowell of MEF University. They recently published an article in the Journal of Applied Behavioral Science entitled “Exploring the Determinants of Becoming a Mentor in Turkish Organizations,” which is currently free to read for a limited time. Below, they briefly describe the research and its significance.]

JAB_72ppiRGB_powerpointIn 2014, I was invited to facilitate a panel of international organizations at a conference in Istanbul, Turkey. The Learning and Development Directors of several well-known companies from a range of sectors were invited to discuss their learning and development strategies. Participants included – Coca-Cola, Denizbank (a Russian and Turkish cooperative venture in the banking industry), Migros (one of the largest supermarket chains). They discovered, through the conference, that they had a common strategy in learning and development, and agreed on the importance of mentoring programs in organizations. The L&D Director of Migros emphasized the value of his mentoring relationship as he stated: “I carry my mentor on my shoulders holding his feet, not to make him fall down but I keep his hands free so that he can direct me where to go”.
That was so intriguing for me and I started my inquiry about the workplace mentoring; the literature supports the notion that positive outcomes are related to employees engaging in either traditional or informal mentoring relationships.
My major motivation to pursue this research was to understand the reasons which make those individuals be part of these relationships. In the end, mentoring is a two-way relationship between mentor and mentee. The benefits are more obvious for the mentees but for the mentors, in a sense, is an additional task, adding to their workload. So what makes potential mentors want to be part of this relationship? What incites those individuals who are willing to mentor? My interest in answering these questions formed the gateway to this quantitative study.
The major challenge in the research was the research design. In order to achieve rich contextual results, a mixed method study design could be used by including employee interviews. In-depth interviews could enrich clarifying the results and understanding how the individuals interpret the items of the instrument.

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Japanese Women Managers’ Employee-Oriented Communication Styles

[We’re pleased to welcome author Kiyoko Sueda of Aoyama Gakuin University. Dr. Sueda recently published an article in the International Journal of Business Communication entitled “Japanese Women Managers’ Employee-Oriented Communication Styles: An Analysis Using Constructivist Grounded Theory,” which is currently free to read for a limited time. Below, Dr. Sueda briefly describes the research and its significance.


What motivated you to pursue this research?

I was motivated to pursue this research for mainly two reasons. First, although the number of women managers in Japan is relatively small, they are generally thought to be good communicators at work. However, with the exception of a few quantitative studies, little empirical research exists on how they communicate with their colleagues. Thus, this study should complement the current limited quantitative study by exploring women managers’ communication styles qualitatively. Second, as most of the existing research was conducted in Western cultural contexts, many of their discoveries about female communication styles may not be transferrable to Japanese managers and executives.

Were there any specific external events—political, social, or economic—that influenced your decision to pursue this research?

Some of the traditional characteristics of Japanese employment system, such as permanent employment and internal promotion systems, have become unstable in recent years, and an external labor market is growing. Thus, various schemes of employment exist within the same organizations. Moreover, shortages in the Japanese labor market are increasing to serious levels. Thus, organizations in Japan inevitably need to diversify their employees at all levels.

What has been the most challenging aspect of conducting your research? Were there any surprising findings?

As the number of female managers is still small, recruiting participants of the study was very challenging.

Although the existing literature has generally contrasted the “relationship-oriented” communication styles of women managers with the “task-oriented” approaches of their male counterparts, this study extends beyond the question of whether Japanese women managers are relationship or task oriented. The research found Japanese women managers engage in employee-oriented communication by making their work environment open and friendly, flexibly changing their communication styles depending on with whom they are talking, and using multiple channels of communication to achieve their professional goals.

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The Pragmatics of Financial Communication. Part 1: From Public Sphere To Investors

[We’re pleased to welcome authors Dr. Rudi Palmieri of the University of Liverpool, Dr. Daniel Perrin of Zurich University of Applied Sciences, and Dr. Marlies Whitehouse of Zurich University of Applied Sciences. They recently published an article in the International Journal of Business Communication entitled “The Pragmatics of Financial Communication. Part 1: From Sources to the Public Sphere,” which is currently free to read for a limited time. Below, they briefly describe the research and its significance.

JBC_53_2_Covers.inddResearch in financial communication has long been dominated by scholars in accounting and finance, who largely focused on the extratextual aspects of financial disclosures, such as the choice (not) to reveal information or the impact of new regulatory standards. In contrast, the past decade and a half has witnessed a significant shift of attention toward the linguistic and textual elements of financial communication. Finance scholars have started to develop text analysis approaches to investigate, in particular, market sentiment and its impact on stock prices. At the same time, accounting scholars have engaged in the so-called narrative turn by investigating the rhetorical aspects of voluntary disclosure. Recent developments in the field, however, dig deeper and are beginning to shed light on the crucial functions of language use in financial communication. There is a growing interest throughout the disciplines to analyze the interplay of micro and macro structure in financial communication, which has been clearly reflected in academic initiatives and rapidly evolving subject areas in recent years. Bringing together these initiatives on a higher level, the AILA research network in financial communication, set up in early 2018, enables scholars from all over the world to strengthen and elaborate on their research and its dissemination. The two parts of the special issue “The Pragmatics of Financial Communication” aim to reflect these recent developments and to foster current and future initiatives in the field.

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Using Simulation to Teach Social Justice and Disability Ethics in Business Communication

[We’re pleased to welcome guest editor Dr. Sushil Oswal of the University of Washington and author Dr. Stephanie Wheeler of the University of Central Florida. Dr. Wheeler recently published an article in Business and Professional Communication Quarterly entitled “Harry Potter and the First Order of Business: Using Simulation to Teach Social Justice and Disability Ethics in Business Communication,” which is currently free to read for a limited time. Below, Dr. Wheeler speaks with Dr. Oswol regarding motivations and challenges of this research]

BCQ_72ppiRGB_powerpoint.jpgWe are here with Dr. Stephanie K. Wheeler who is an Assistant Professor of Rhetoric at the University of Central Florida where she researches Cultural Rhetoric, Pop Rhetorics of Harry Potter and Lady Gaga, Disability Studies, Rhetoric of Eugenics, and Civic Engagement and activism among Faculty and Students. She is the author of “Legacies of Colonialism: Toward a Borderland Dialogue between Indigenous and Disability Rhetorics”. Dr. Wheeler just published a fascinating article, “Harry Potter and the First Order of Business”, about the use of simulations in her college communication course for the Sage journal, Business and Professional Communication Quarterly.

Oswal: What motivated you to pursue this Harry Potter research?

Wheeler: When I was first struggling to find a way to make my first semester of teaching Introduction to Business and Professional Communication meaningful and interesting to my students, I had a chance conversation with a close friend who was designing a zombie simulation for her class. It occurred to me that I might find a way to do the same for Harry Potter. Multiple attempts and years later, I think I figured it out.

Oswal: So, what was the answer?

Wheeler: My BPCQ manuscript was motivated by the question of how to honor our own interests and meet students where they are outside of the classroom with their own interests, while at the same time meeting their educational needs inside of the classroom? Furthermore, how can we ensure a balance between the two?

Oswal: What has been the most challenging aspect of conducting your research? Were there any surprising findings?

Wheeler: The most challenging part of writing this piece was coming face to face with my failures in my earlier classes where I attempted the simulation. In fact, the first few attempts at the class were unmitigated disasters. I always had a small group of students—probably committed Harry Potter fans–who really enjoyed it, but by and large my classes were, to put it nicely, not interested in the simulation. I talk about this a little bit in the manuscript, but I think that there is one main factor that went into it: I didn’t go “all-in” with the simulation. That is, I didn’t quite have the confidence to pull off that the simulation would work, and when it didn’t, students weren’t able to understand the consequences of their writing choices. Thus, the most surprising thing that came out of this paper was my realization that the research could not have been done had I always been successful in the way I had hoped, and so much of its success depended on taking some major risks and my own belief in it that it was really working. And then, I also found out that I could not keep this newly-gained confidence to myself; I had to share it with my class by being overtly enthusiastic about the Universe of Harry Potter. Once my class could sense this enthusiasm, even the strangers to Harry Potter were willing to get their feet wet with this simulation.

Oswal: Let’s say that some of our readers are still sitting on the fence and want a pedagogical justification: what reasons can you give them to try this simulation out in their classes?

Wheeler: Given the practical focus of business communication pedagogy in particular and communication teaching in general, instructors are always looking for ways to connect with their students in different ways; what else would be more interesting for students than the Universe of Harry Potter in a required course?

Oswal: Instructors might also like to know more about what your thoughts are on Harry Potter at this time since you continue to improve this class simulation. What ideas did not make it into your published manuscript that you would like to share with us?

Wheeler: My overall approach to teaching Business and Professional Communication is to think about the ways that language reflects, sustains, and resists oppressive power structures, especially (and most importantly) when it is seen to be devoid of any cultural influence or impact, like in technical documents. One way I emphasized this in the course I describe in my manuscript is to regard writing as a eugenic technology, having the capability of writing bodies in and out of existence to fit whatever power structure it was serving. This is why a Harry Potter simulation made so much sense to me: to really look at the impact of how our beloved characters are brought to existence by J. K. Rawling through writing and just as easily eliminated by the same stroke of a pen can really illuminate the power and responsibility that comes with writing and becoming a writer.

Oswal: Do you have any additional materials on this project that instructors might find useful if they wanted to develop a Harry Potter course for their business and professional communication curriculum?

Wheeler: I had to remove some more detailed appendices, which can be found at my website, and readers are most welcome to review them.

Oswal: Thanks for talking to me about this fascinating communication project and I hope that our readers find this Harry Potter simulation as enticing as you and I found talking about it.

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Profiling Potential Plagiarizers

[We’re pleased to welcome authors Dr. Sarah Rosol of the and Dr. Dale Cyphert of the University of Northern Iowa. They recently published an article in Business and Professional Communication Quarterly entitled “Profiling Potential Plagiarizers: A Mastery Learning Instructional Technique to Enhance Competency,” which is currently free to read for a limited time. Below, Dr. Rosol reveals the inspiration for conducting this research and additional findings not included in the paper:]

BCQ_72ppiRGB_powerpoint.jpgWhat motivated you to pursue this research?

We wanted to shed light on the anecdotal evidence that many students are legitimately confused about plagiarism and proper citation techniques. Often the problem is chalked up to laziness or malicious intent on the part of the student, which might be unfair. In our experience, most faculty members have not considered that current instruction methods or procedures might be encouraging the problem. The animosity and anxiety generated when faculty use the term “plagiarism” adds stress without communicating the need for some additional skill. Our instructional goal was to develop a method to ease some of that stress and create a more collaborative classroom experience. Along the way, we learned that being proactive at the beginning of the class saves both time and major headaches at the end of the course.

What did not make it into your published manuscript that you would like to share with us?

The article could not fully convey the damage to the instructor’s reputation when she announced that she had discovered plagiarism. Rumors spread throughout the college as students speculated about punishments and gossiped about the instructor’s unfairness. At one point, rumors had escalated to include claims that the instructor had actively attempted to unfairly fail over 60% of the class for plagiarism and that the Dean had to force the instructor to allow some individuals to graduate. None of that was even close to the real story, yet students were extremely upset with the instructor for confronting the plagiarism problem. The instructor was both surprised and mortified to walk into class the following semester and find anticipatory hatred on Day 1. Further, attempts to convey the real story were quickly dismissed by the students as simply her attempt to save face by lying!

As a result, the article also fails to capture the contrasting ease and confidence of students gearing up for the final papers after we had used the mastery learning approach. In previous semesters, the stress and anxiety was almost palpable as students resisted submitting the papers to the plagiarism software and asked question after question about proper citations. Prior to the mastery approach, I was seen as the authority figure just waiting to pounce on a student for any little mistake. After adopting the mastery approach, I was viewed as someone that was looking out for their best interests and actively helping the students avoid the errors without a severe penalty.

What advice would you give to new scholars and incoming researchers in this particular field of study?

As we dug into the literature, it was clear that “plagiarism” is used as a broad umbrella term for several types of offenses, and authors exhibit vastly different assumptions about causes, as well as the severity of any presumed moral lapse and suitable punishments. The different definitions and measurements make comparisons across various studies difficult. Our advice would be to carefully define terms, which is good research practice in any field, but also to carefully interrogate their own moral and pedagogical presumptions, which seem to have a huge impact on how plagiarism research is framed and interpreted.

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