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, http://www.stephaniewheeler.wordpress.com 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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The Effect of Linguistic Style in an MD&A on Stock Market Reaction

[We’re pleased to welcome authors Dr. Mohamed M. Tailab and Dr. Marshall J. Burak of Lincoln University. They recently published an article in International Journal of Business Communication entitled “Examining the Effect of Linguistic Style in an MD&A on Stock Market Reaction,” which is currently free to read for a limited time. Below, they discuss this research:]


Language as the currency of most human social processes can be converted to words. Investors and market participants attach very different connotations to the words, rely more on intuition than hard data, and react more to the verbal tone. Quantitative information contained in financial annual reports in general and in an MD&A in particular does not provide a complete picture to the investors about the expected firm value. So, the need arises to analyze the effect of narrative disclosures on market reaction as well. In addition, analyzing narrative disclosures is more easily understood than quantitative data, but at the same time it offers a different perspective. This initiated our research interests and concerns to explore in depth the impact of linguistic style in narrative disclosures on decision makers.Therefore, we decided to investigate the effect of language used in the MD&A between the speaker (management) and the listeners (investors), which in turn influences market reaction. We had hypothesized that the stock market (return and risk) has a significant response to the linguistic tone contained in the MD&A. Even though the initial hypotheses have never been proven, this study proves principles about the usefulness of an MD&A to investors.

This work expands on the understanding of the business communication literature by using an interdisciplinary approach. This approach has emerged the narrative disclosures with applied linguistic and market reaction. To this end, this paper is the first to use the partial least squares – structural equation modeling (PLS-SEM) approach and contributes to the existing body of knowledge in several ways including (a) a new approach to strengths, (b) evaluation of MD&A content, (c) proof that MD&A length does not play a strong role in market reaction, and (d) findings that capital assets pricing model (CAPM) or Farm-French models are more reliable than the realized volatility.

The study indicates that the average of negative tone is greater than the average of positive words in the MD&A. This may be because the study period started in 2010, there is a possibility that the financial crisis still has an effect on the verbal tone of MD&A reports, and allows the management writers to be more conservative. One interesting observation is that the linguistic content in an MD&A was not consistent with financial performance. It can be concluded that that management most likely does not use its financial performance as a guide for writing the MD&A, or maybe it has another criterion for delivering its message to the investors.
A challenging aspect of this work is that using dictionaries built by researchers in other fields (e.g., psychology) may not be appropriate for a content analysis of financial reports. We have limited our research by neglecting the investors’ types and their preferences. So, it would be better if future researches studied the investors’ preferences, what information investors need to find in the MD&A before making their decisions.The study recommends conducting a more efficient analysis of the narrative disclosures to investigate whether management writers communicate truthful information to investors by offering relevant data about financial performance.

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Blurring the Stark Distinction Between Masculine and Feminine Brands

An identity, integral to our understanding of who we are is our gender identity. It is perhaps the first and the most easily recognizable feature of our persona that we. Unlike sex, our gender is not congenitally determined; rather it is constructed, developed, and refined through social and cultural exchanges. The appropriate and discriminatory gender roles ascribed by the society, direct communication, and influence of media coerce us to develop a personal sense of “maleness or femaleness”.

Business Perspectives and ResearchWhatever be the case, once we develop a gender identity we communicate and demonstrate it in a number of ways. A common way is to appropriate consumption practices and props that reflect our gender identity. Marketers’ gender work is instrumental in creating gendered brands. Since gendered brands appeal to the gender of consumers, they are suitable for either men or women, but not for both. As such, gendered brands create distinct gender cultures populated with gender specific brands. However, of late stagnant sales and societal changes have encouraged many marketers to engage in brand gender bending by deconstructing the gender exclusivity of brands. Marketers are continually expanding the gender spectrum of previously gendered brands by bringing women into the male-skewed customer base of male-gendered products and vice versa. The historical divide between masculine and feminine products is blurring and “unisex” is emerging as the new consumption ideology.

An article from Business Perspective and Research attempts to integrate and extend the theory of brand gender bending by convening arguments from different but complimentary social sciences. Based on the review and scientific understanding of the long-standing research, the study underscores the difference in the reactions of men and women to brand gender bending. It also proposes a conceptual framework that highlights the determinants that drive consumer responses to brand gender bending.

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In the postmodern era, many marketers have disturbed the strict gender discipline traditionally associated with gendered brands. Marketers are redoing their gender work by blurring the stark distinction between masculine and feminine brands. New consumption ideologies are developing that transcend the gendered meanings of brands and encourage men and women to infiltrate brands traditionally associated with the opposite gender. “Unisex” is emerging as the byword. This review convenes the phenomenological consumer responses to brand gender bending. It specifically highlights the contrast between the ways in which men and women react to dilution/revision of the gender identity meanings of their brands. This article also underscores the ethnographic, sociological, psychological, and anthropological reasons that justify these reactions.

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