66.4, November 2019

Recent & Relevant

By Lyn Gattis, Editor

The following articles on technical communication have appeared recently in other journals. The abstracts are prepared by volunteer journal monitors. If you would like to contribute, contact Lyn Gattis at LynGattis@MissouriState.edu.

“Recent & Relevant” does not supply copies of cited articles. However, most publishers supply reprints, tear sheets, or copies at nominal cost. Lists of publishers’ addresses, covering nearly all the articles we have cited, appear in Ulrich’s international periodicals directory.


How consultants and their clients collaborate in spite of massive communication barriers

Sutter, M., & Kieser, A. (2019). International Journal of Business Communication, 56(2), 249–277. doi: 10.1177/2329488415613340

“Managers often collaborate with members of consultancies with the aim of improving the performance of their organizations. It is astonishing that, after the completion of such consulting projects, both parties in most cases express satisfaction with the results. It is astonishing because, as [the authors] show in this article, consultants and the managers of client organizations, when engaging in joint projects, have to overcome severe communication barriers. These communication barriers originate from different frames of reference the collaborators refer to, different goals they pursue, and different logics they follow. As [the authors] demonstrate on the basis of an empirical analysis, the communication barriers are overcome predominantly through the use of boundary objects and prototyping.”

Katherine Wertz

A path model of workplace solidarity, satisfaction, burnout, and motivation

MacDonald, P., Kelly, S., & Christen, S. (2019). International Journal of Business Communication, 56(1), 31–49. doi: 10.1177/2329488414525467

“Communication dynamics within the business world dictate that the formality of interaction between supervisor and subordinate is determined by the supervisor. The present study investigates the influence of negotiated formality and closeness via supervisor-subordinate solidarity on subordinates’ burnout, motivation, and job satisfaction. An online questionnaire was administered to subjects across various occupations and organizations in the United States. The data are consistent with a mediated model in which job satisfaction mediates the relationships between solidarity-motivation and solidarity-burnout. These results are novel in that, first, job satisfaction is identified as an input of motivation and burnout rather than outputs of a shared induction, And, second, the results place renewed emphasis on the role of supervisor communication in the workplace as subordinates are unable to initiate solidarity.”

Katherine Wertz

The relationship between aggressive communication traits and organizational assimilation

Sollitto, M., & Cranmer, G. (2019). International Journal of Business Communication, 56(2), 278–296. doi: 10.1177/2329488415613339

“This study used theory of independent mindedness as a framework to examine the role of aggressive communication traits in organizational assimilation. Both employee traits and their perception of supervisor traits were examined. Results indicated that employees who are indirect verbally aggressive report lower levels of familiarity with coworkers, acculturation, involvement, job competence, and role negotiation. Additionally, employees who perceive their supervisors as higher in argumentativeness, low in verbal aggressiveness, and low in indirect interpersonal aggressiveness report higher levels of familiarity with coworkers, familiarity with supervisors, acculturation, recognition, involvement, and role negotiation.”

Katherine Wertz


Ocean-liner cutaways, diagrams, and composites: Technical illustration as mass aesthetic in Popular Mechanics and The Illustrated London News

Ross, S. (2017). The Journal of Modern Periodical Studies, 8(1), 1–33. [doi: none]

“This article analyzes the visual rhetoric of ocean-liner illustrations that appeared in mass periodicals in the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries. Cutaways, diagrams, and composite images of ocean liners created an innovative visual style that fused data structures with pop aesthetics, combining pedagogy of media literacy with the pleasures of voyeurism and vicarious voyaging. Illustrations of the Queen Mary and the sinking of the Titanic are emphasized to show how mass periodicals constructed imagined, impossible scenes of ocean travel that humanized abstract, large-scale technological changes and crises of modernity, thereby rendering them comprehensible to a mass readership.”

Edward A. Malone


Editing in translation: Revision

Mossop, B. (2018). In Chan Sin-wai (Ed.), Encyclopedia of practical translation and interpreting (43–72). Hong Kong: Chinese University Press. [doi: none]

“Under a variety of terms (editing, proofreading, checking reviewing, re-reading, quality controlling), revision is generally recognized in the translation industry as a vital step in producing high quality translations. It is thus in part a linguistic activity, in part a business activity. As a business activity, revision is a cost factor and an aspect of quality assurance (alongside such matters as deadline-meeting, acceptable billing practices, and prompt, pleasant interactions with clients before, during and after a translation job). Revision may or may not involve comparison with the source text. It may also be partial (only parts of the translation are checked), and it may be selective (only certain aspects of the translation are checked, such as specialized terminology or writing quality). Since revision is time-consuming and thus costly, translation services commonly seek to limit the extent of revision activity rather than have a full revision of every text. Certain translations will not be checked by a second person at all, only by the original translator (‘self-revision’). Many translation providers (translation agencies, government or corporate translation departments) have written policies governing these matters.”

Edward A. Malone


Assessing an online student orientation: Impacts on retention, satisfaction, and student learning

Watts, J. (2019). Technical Communication Quarterly, 28(3), 254–270. doi: 10.1080/10572252.2019.1607905

“To help prepare students for the rigors of an online master’s degree in technical and professional communication, [the author] created a course-embedded online student orientation (OSO) structured by the community of inquiry theory of online learning. The study researched the effect of the OSO on student satisfaction, student perceptions of online learning, and students’ program retention. The OSO was effective in helping students to reflect on their learning and demonstrated students’ interest in peer collaboration.”

Rhonda Stanton

Creating a continuous improvement model for sustaining programs in technical and professional communication

Schreiber, J., & Meloncon, L. (2019). Journal of Technical Writing and Communication, 49(3), 252–278. doi: 10.1177/0047281618759916

[The authors] “build on previous scholarship calling for sustainable growth in technical and professional communication programs through maintenance and reflection. Inspired by continuous improvement models used in industry, [the authors] offer GRAM—Gather–Read–Analyze–Make—a continuous improvement model designed to identify and align often overlooked practices and processes necessary to build and sustain programs.”

Anita Ford

I see what you mean: Mechanical engineering students’ use of visuals in a research paper assignment

Bell, S. A. (2019). In M. Mathison, Sojourning in disciplinary cultures: A case study of teaching writing in engineering (118–133). Logan: Utah State University Press. [doi: none]

“Technical communication textbooks all agree about the importance of visual communication in engineering discourse, but they may not meet the mark for instruction about how to create and use the types of graphics that engineers consistently rely on: tables, and technical illustrations and diagrams (Wolfe 2009, 363). With these research findings in mind, [the author] was interested in developing some curricular interventions for the first-and second-year mechanical engineering courses [in which the author] was the embedded technical writing consultant. . . . Some students took a ‘less is more’ approach to including graphical elements, and some took an ‘everything including the kitchen sink’ approach, by, for example, including multiple photos of design iterations when a final, well-labeled diagram might have been a more effective choice. [The author concludes that] as with all communication instruction, students needed more than just formatting guidelines; they needed to gain a rhetorical understanding of the role of graphical elements in their technical writing.”

Edward A. Malone

Including the student voice: Experiences and learning outcomes of a flipped communication course

Kantanen, H., Koponen, J., Sointu, E., & Valtonen, T. (2019). Business and Professional Communication Quarterly, 82(3), 337–356. doi: 10.1177/2329490619833397

The authors point out the benefits of flipped classrooms, including improved student engagement and the skills needed for success in careers: interpersonal, teamwork, and negotiation skills. The authors “present a study focusing on the learning experiences of business students in an organizational and marketing communication course. The pedagogical approaches of a flipped classroom, collaborative inquiry, and communication in the disciplines guided the planning of the course. A mixed-methods approach was used. The key findings include positive student evaluations of the pedagogies utilized. Moreover, a wide variety of learning outcomes was reported, particularly in the fields of crisis communication and workplace communication. The pedagogies utilized enabled a comprehensive model for teaching communication and contributed to relevant learning experiences and skill development for the 21st century.”

Diana Fox Bentele

Pain or gain? How business communication students perceive the outlining process

Baker, M. J. (2019). Business and Professional Communication Quarterly, 82(3), 273–296. doi: 10.1177/2329490619831277

The author presents outlining as a strategy to improve student success, rather than as a product. “This study investigates how students perceive the outlining process. Students in two business communication sections completed a survey regarding outlining perceptions and reasons for outlining or not. Using qualitative content analysis and qualitative coding, the researcher and an independent coder analyzed 34 students’ responses regarding outlining process, use, and reasons for outlining or not. Results indicate that students perceive outlining as more useful if their outlining process includes both organization and content exploration and less useful if it excludes organization or content exploration. Notable reasons for not outlining include concern for outlining time and difficulty generating content for the outline.” The author gives specifics for how to get students to buy into outlining, beginning with smaller assignments.

Diana Fox Bentele

Student perceptions of learning and engagement in a flipped versus lecture course

Garner, B., & Chan, M. (2019). Business and Professional Communication Quarterly, 82(3), 357–369. doi: 10.1177/2329490619833173

With the current trend toward Writing Intensive components across various disciplines, instructors are pushed to increase students’ communication proficiency. These researchers found that writing and oral communication scores were higher among students from flipped classrooms. “Current literature suggests that students have equal or higher learning outcomes in a ‘flipped’ classroom compared with a traditional lecture. However, there are few robust analyses of the flipped-class teaching method. This research uses a yearlong, quasiexperimental study across six sections of a business communication course to track student outcomes and perceptions of student engagement and learning. The results indicate that there were no significant differences between flipped and traditional classes across the learning and engagement variables in how students perceived these different conditions. However, the flipped condition produced better outcomes for oral and written assignments.”

Diana Fox Bentele

Using professional online portfolios to enhance student transition into the poststudent world

Watson, M. (2019). Business and Professional Communication Quarterly, 82(2), 153–168. doi: 10.1177/2329490618824703

This article challenges instructors to consider that making students “marketable” is one of a teacher’s tasks. It gives a rationale for portfolios and specifics on how to integrate the online portfolio into a writing class. Examples are shown. “Although most students have learned to succeed academically, by the time they enter . . . business communication courses, their time as students is almost over. This article describes the challenges facing ‘students who will soon stop being students’ and introduces the professional online portfolio as a project which enables them to develop the confidence, the capacity, and a concrete platform with which to communicate with the world outside the black box of school.” The author uses the e-portfolio assignment as a means to engage students in writing assignments.

Diana Fox Bentele


Empty templates: The ethical habits of empty state pages

Gallagher, J., & Holmes, S. (2019). Technical Communication Quarterly, 28(3), 271283. doi: 10.1080/10572252.2018.1564367

“This article examines how empty state pages (ESPs) constrain user-generated communication through the ethical lens of Bourdieu’s habitus. The authors define ESPs as interactive instructional templates that prompt users to input information to participate in an online network. Through a case study analyzing ~450,000 online comments from The New York Times, the authors find a direct connection between ESP elements, such as the character limit for comments, and online writers’ cultivated habitus.”

Rhonda Stanton

Media frames and crisis events: Understanding the impact on corporate reputations, responsibility attributions, and negative affect

Mason, A. (2019). International Journal of Business Communication, 56(3), 414–431. doi: 10.1177/2329488416648951

“This study aims to grow our current understanding of situational crisis communication theory by expanding on the conceptualization of causal responsibility as the primary mechanism contributing to the cognitive formulation of blame by stakeholder groups. By doing so, this research sought to assess the differential impact of common media frames of crisis events in order to inform organizational crisis communication efforts. A total of 186 students participated in an experimental study from a Midwest university. A series of multivariate analyses of variances were computed to assess the hypotheses advanced in the study. Results indicated that crisis frames can negatively affect organizational reputations. Episodic frames were found to amplify the reputational threat levels in both the victim and accidental clusters. Findings also indicated that when stakeholders perceive the source of the media report as being highly credible, more negative perceptions toward the organizations involved in the crisis were generated. The results help inform the corporate communication response process designed to address the ‘image’ of a crisis as an attribute of consideration, in relation to the framing of the crisis event. Limitations and future directions are offered.”

Katherine Wertz

Health communication

The paradox of smoking & perceived stress: Do graphic health warnings influence smokers under high stress in adverse ways?

Cho, H. Y., Chun, S., & Choi, Y. (2019). Health Communication, Jul 3: 1–8 [Epub ahead of print]. doi: 10.1080/10410236.2019.1636339

“The positive effects of graphic health warnings (GHWs) on quitting smoking have been widely demonstrated in the literature on cigarette warning. However, recent findings of smoker reactance to GHWs demand investigations of factors that may constrain the effects of GHWs. The current study sought to identify conditions in which GHWs do not have a positive impact on smokers’ desire to quit with a focus on smokers’ perceived stress. Two hundred and forty-four smokers in South Korea were exposed to either a text-only or a GHW cigarette pack in a between-subjects experiment. Results from this study suggest that the GHW condition is effective in increasing attention to the GHW, enhancing perceived usefulness of information, and desire to quit only among those with low (vs. high) perceived stress. In addition, an interaction effect between warning type and perceived stress on the desire to quit was sequentially mediated by attention and perceived information effectiveness. Based on the results, [the authors] suggest that GHWs were less effective for smokers with high levels of perceived stress because their stress appeared to exhaust the cognitive resources necessary to process the information.”

Walter Orr

Worst practices for writing CME [continuing medical education] needs assessments: Results from a survey of practitioners

Harting, D., & Bowser, A. (2019). American Medical Writers Association Journal, 34(2), 51–54. [doi: none]

“Needs assessments (NAs) are commonly developed to identify gaps in the knowledge, competence, performance, and confidence of health care providers and to guide the development of continuing education activities designed to remedy these deficiencies. Although best practices of NA development have been thoroughly described, little work has been done to evaluate poor or unprofessional practices that may compromise their value or validity. [The authors] sought to describe these practices with a survey primarily targeted toward individuals who develop NAs. . . . Respondents to an annual survey were prompted to describe unprofessional or poor practices that they had observed in NAs developed by other writers. Responses were categorized by 2 independent reviewers. . . . A total of 104 individuals submitted responses to the survey. Of those, 67 included write-in responses describing poor practices. The most common poor practices were related to sources and referencing (19 responses), whereas other commonly cited poor practices included irrelevance or poor focus; organization, coherence, and readability issues; and plagiarism, fabrication, or bias. Specific quotations from write-in responses are provided in this article. . . . Despite available resources that outline and teach best practices in writing CME NAs, writers continue to struggle with referencing, organization, coherence, and readability. This may present an opportunity for the industry to consider new best practices that would encourage standardization and eliminate some of the poor practices described here.”

Walter Orr


Becoming caregivers: Companion robots and instructions for use

Caudwell, C. B. (2019). Journal of Asia-Pacific Pop Culture, 4(1), 42–58. doi: 10.5325/jasiapacipopcult.4.1.0042

“Concerns and speculations about relationships between humans and robots cross disciplinary bounds, from engineering and design to popular culture, ethics, and philosophy. While there is abundant material on the appearance, function, and interaction of social robots as objects, there is an absence of discussion and research addressing the instruction manuals, packaging, and marketing material that contextualize the relationship between robots and people. Instruction manuals, a form of technical communication, are where some of the first introductions are made between robots and their caregivers, and where the boundaries for their relationship are first laid out. The study of technical communication itself is well established—a cultural perspective on this topic is rare—but vital in assessing the cultural, political, and ethical dimensions of technology. Through a case study of Furby, an early example of a simple, companionable robot, this research explores the role that instruction manuals, and other related ephemera play in defining relationships with robots, and suggests an approach for analyzing artificial companionship as it develops into new and more complex forms.”

Edward A. Malone

Intercultural issues

Are strategic communication management competencies and personal attributes global? A case study of practice in Finland and New Zealand

Brunton, M., Kankaanranta, A., Louhiala-Salminen, L., & Jeffrey, L. (2019). International Journal of Business Communication, 56(2), 151–172. doi: 10.1177/2329488415608846

“The drive to both maintain competitiveness and to meet marketplace expectations using the strategic management of communication is a feature of the international workplace. In the complex and dynamic commercial environment of the new millennium, this drive includes the imperatives to employ competent communication professionals. Whether organizations are intent on acquiring or developing proficient practitioners, the ability to achieve these aims rests on the identification of relevant competencies and attributes. This study uses the Critical Incident Technique to explore the practice of Communication Management in a sample of practitioners in New Zealand and Finland—two geographically disperse countries. The identified critical incidents mostly related to managing crisis communication across both countries. To manage the incidents, communication practitioners predominantly used two competencies: stakeholder relationship management and external interface management. In addition, the personal attribute of adaptability was most commonly employed in both countries. Despite the similarity of incidents and the competencies and attributes required to manage them, also variability in practitioners’ strategic and personal responses was evident.”

Katherine Wertz

Emotion, social action, and agency: A case study of an intercultural, technical communication intern

Pickering, K. (2019). Technical Communication Quarterly, 28(3), 283253. doi: 10.1080/10572252.2019.1571244

“This article reviews literature on emotions within communication settings and proposes that emotions serve as motivations to accomplish social action; these motivations also serve as opportunities to negotiate agency within unfamiliar workplace settings. To exemplify the way this process develops, the author presents a case study of a technical communication intern as she works full-time for a German sales and distribution company. Through reflective self-narratives, the intern describes specific emotions she experiences as she adjusts to this German workplace. These emotions connect directly to decisions the student makes that help her negotiate agency from a ‘powerless’ position, resulting in effective workplace relationships and a competent persona.”

Rhonda Stanton

Textual voices in corporate reporting: A cross-cultural analysis of Chinese, Italian, and American CSR reports

Bondi, M., & Yu, D. (2019). International Journal of Business Communication, 56(2), 173–197. doi: 10.1177/2329488418784690

“This article investigates direct quotations in a corpus of corporate social responsibility (CSR) reports in Italian, Chinese, and English. The corpus is composed of 60 CSR reports published by Italian, Chinese, and American companies in the banking and energy sector. The study aims at exploring what types of textual voices are involved in the discourse of CSR reporting and how different sources of voices are represented, using the framework of social actor representation proposed by Van Leeuwen. The results show that the voices presented in direct quotations are often ‘orchestrated’ by companies into ‘symphony’ rather than ‘polyphony.’ Most of the sources of direct quotations are represented as individuals with specified names. The comparative analysis shows that companies from different cultural backgrounds present different preferences in selecting and representing the various sources. The Italian and American CSR reports present more voices from managers, while the Chinese CSR reports show a clearer preference for voices from employees and clients.”

Katherine Wertz


Correlates of physicians’ and patients’ language use during surgical consultations

Tran, B. Q., & Sweeny, K. (2019). Health Communication, Jun 3: 1–8. [Epub ahead of print]. doi: 10.1080/10410236.2019.1625001

“A multi-method approach was used to explore correlates of technical and complex language use within 145 audio-recorded physician-patient interactions. When discussing the prospect of surgery, physicians used more technical and complex language (more jargon, larger words, longer sentences) than patients on average. Patients’ demographic characteristics (education, health literacy, English fluency) and markers of health (condition severity) inconsistently predicted physicians’ and patients’ use of complex and technical language. Interactions with happier and more hopeful patients involved less technical and complex language, but physicians’ language use was unrelated to patients’ emotions following the consultation. Finally, physicians’ use of more technical language predicted greater patient satisfaction following the consultation, and physicians’ use of more complex language at the initial consultation predicted better adherence by patients following surgery. [These] results highlight the nuanced role of language use within healthcare interactions and identifies language complexity as a novel target for health communication research.”

Walter Orr

Verbal quantifiers and communicating painkiller side effect risk

Cox. J. G. (2019). Health Communication, Jun 21: 1–10 [Epub ahead of print]. doi: 10.1080/10410236.2019.1632402

“The two studies reported here explore the use of verbal quantifiers (e.g., ‘common’) as an alternative to the numerical presentation of risk information about prescription drugs. Guided by work on adverb-adjective pairs (Study 1) and research on fuzzy trace theory (Study 2), predictions are made about participants’ risk perceptions after reading verbal presentations of a medication’s side effects. Participants report their perceptions about the drug’s side effects’ occurrence among users. In Study 1, pairs of adverbs and adjectives (e.g., ‘very rare’) are used in contrast to adjectives alone to convey numerical risk information. In Study 2, severity and more general risk perception measures are added to better understand bottom-down schema processing. Findings show that individuals vastly overestimate the likelihood of side effects occurring, compared with the European Union’s CIOMS III recommendations (e.g., ‘rare’ side effects affect .01-.1% of users), and demonstrate support for the differences between gist and verbatim processing of risk information.”

Walter Orr


The diffusion process of strategic motivating language: An examination of the internal organizational environment and emergent properties

Mayfield, J., & Mayfield, M. (2019). International Journal of Business Communication, 56(3), 368–392. doi: 10.1177/2329488416629093

“Motivating language (ML) is a leader oral-communication strategy which has been significantly linked to such positive employee outcomes as higher job performance, increased job satisfaction, lower intention to turnover, and decreased absenteeism. However, most ML research has not targeted an organizational system at multiple levels. In brief, we have not looked at how this beneficial form of communication is actually implemented throughout an organization, including at the CEO level. In response to this gap, [the authors’] main goals were to identify robust hypotheses on ML diffusion for future empirical testing, better understand the emergent processes of ML adoption within an organization, and advance development of related theory. These goals were achieved through an agent-based simulation model, drawn from management, communication, and social network scholarship. More specifically, overview, design concepts, and details protocol and NetLogo software were applied to simulate ML diffusion among all leader levels within an organization. This model also captured the influences of predicted moderators, and results were then interpreted to create testable hypotheses. Findings suggest that top-leader oral language use and organizational culture have the most profound impact on ML diffusion, followed by rewards, with partial weak support for the effects of training, turnover, and time. Recommendations were also made for future research on this topic, especially for empirical tests.”

Katherine Wertz

How can leaders overcome the blurry vision bias? Identifying an antidote to the paradox of vision communication

Carton, A. M., & Lucas, B. J. (2018). Academy of Management Journal, 61(6), 2106–2129. doi: 10.5465/amj.2015.0375

“Evidence suggests that organizational leaders can inspire employees by communicating a vision of the future with image-based rhetoric—words and phrases that are readily envisioned in the mind’s eye (e.g., ‘our vision is to make moviegoers laugh’). Yet research has demonstrated that most leaders do not craft visions with image-based rhetoric, instead favoring abstract language that cannot easily be visualized. [The authors] integrate theory on leadership and dual cognitive processing to argue that this problem is exacerbated when leaders focus on word selection when crafting visions because they overemphasize the meaning-based cognitive system (in which they consider the abstract meaning of words) and underemphasize the experience-based cognitive system (in which they can generate vivid mental images of what the future could look like). [The authors] introduce a novel tactic to help leaders activate the experience-based system and, in turn, generate and communicate more impactful visions. [They] also investigate boundary conditions . . . [and] test [their] predictions with three experiments featuring three distinct samples, including one with senior corporate executives and one in which members of the British government crafted visions on the day Britain announced it would exit the European Union (‘Brexit’).”

Yvonne Wade Sanchez

Impeded opportunities: The content and consequences of structures constraining supervisors’ communication with older workers

Kroon, A. C. (2019). Management Communication Quarterly, 33(3), 388–418. doi: 10.1177/0893318919846464

As the workforce ages and as people are willing and able to work later into life, managers face the task of successfully acquiring and retaining older workers. This research found that communication affects these tasks. “Supervisors are confronted with the challenge to support the employability of rapidly aging teams. Drawing on structuration theory, two studies construct and test a conceptual model of how structures (rules and resources) constraining supervisors’ communication with older workers impede older workers’ job performance and access to promotion. A set of constraining structures was qualitatively identified through in-depth interviews and subsequently quantified in a survey. The results reveal a set of constraining structures that obstruct supervisors’ conversations with older workers and consequently hinder employability outcomes. If older workers are to take advantage of national and organizational policies and resources aimed at improving their employability, these constraining structures should be targeted.”

Diana Fox Bentele

Investigating the dark side of stories of “good” leadership: A discursive approach to leadership gurus’ storytelling

Clifton, J. (2019). International Journal of Business Communication, 56(1), 82–99. doi: 10.1177/2329488418796603

“Since the quest for locating an agreed upon prediscursive phenomenon behind the word ‘leadership’ has proved fruitless, some researchers have suggested that leadership is an empty signifier to which many meanings can be attached. Taking this ontological shift seriously, rather than trying to locate leadership as a ‘thing’ that is out there somewhere, it is perhaps better to investigate how meanings of leadership are constructed as in situ social practice. Adopting a discursive approach to leadership and using transcripts of a celebrity interview with management gurus Jack and Suzy Welch, this article analyzes the stories they tell in which they provide normative accounts of what good leadership should be. Rather than taking these stories at face value, this article investigates both the way in which these stories are told as in situ social practice and the Discourses of leadership that are used as resources for storytelling and which are (re)produced in the storytelling. Findings indicate that while Jack and Suzy Welch do morally accountable identity work that presents leadership as heroic and positive, these stories also hide a darker side of leadership that is revealed in the analyses of wider societal Discourses that are invoked. The article closes with a call for a more critical approach to stories of leadership.”

Katherine Wertz

Leaders’ behaviors during radical change processes: Subordinates’ perceptions of how well leader behaviors communicate change

Hartge, T., Callahan, T., & King, C. (2019). International Journal of Business Communication, 56(1), 100–121. doi: 10.1177/2329488415605061

“This research asked 252 upper-, middle-, and first-line-level managers in organizations experiencing radical change to assess the effects of their own leaders’ communications and behaviors on their perceptions of the change process. Results indicated that the frequency of exhibition of most behaviors by leaders positively affected subordinates’ perceptions of change. For three types of behaviors, soliciting upward feedback, driving change, and providing resources, the importance of these behaviors to the subordinates’ moderated perceptions of the change process. Discussion of these results and their implications conclude the study.”

Katherine Wertz

A look at leadership styles and workplace solidarity communication

Kelly, S., & MacDonald, P. (2019). International Journal of Business Communication, 56(3), 432–448. doi: 10.1177/2329488416664176

“Leadership styles that promote upward and downward communication have been shown to foster a plethora of positive outcomes within the workplace, group collaborations, and team contexts. Similarly, supervisor-subordinate solidarity communication has been related to desirable workplace outcomes. The purpose of this study was to investigate leadership styles as related to solidarity communication. The authoritarian leadership style was associated with the lowest solidarity and consistently yielded the least job satisfaction and highest burnout in subordinates. Furthermore, subordinates with authoritarian leaders did not fit the supervisor-subordinate solidarity model. A more nuanced explanation of leadership communication as related to solidarity is discussed.”

Katherine Wertz

Professional issues

Can perceptions of an individual’s organizational citizenship be influenced via strategic impression management messaging?

Adame, E. A., & Bisel, R. S. (2019). International Journal of Business Communication, 56(1), 7–30. doi: 10.1177/2329488415627355

“A two-part investigation explored whether strategic messaging can influence others’ perceptions of one’s organizational citizenship. In a first study, inductive analysis of interviews (N = 24) revealed working adults hold implicit rules for how (and how not) to present themselves to their colleagues as good citizens: The rules require organizational members’ attempt to avoid being interpreted by colleagues as motivated by personal gain or working through ostentatious means. Then, the content of impression management (IM) messages were crafted—based on these rules—and used for a message-processing experiment (N = 274). Analysis demonstrated working adults’ perceptions of organizational citizenship behavior were influenced by strategic self- and other-referential messaging regarding motives and means. Results imply that strategic IM messaging, which conforms to the rules of organizational citizenship behavior impression-construction, are rewarded with audience perceptions of being citizenly. Implications for IM in the workplace are discussed.”

Katherine Wertz

Development of technical communication in China: Program building and field convergence

Ding, H. (2019). Technical Communication Quarterly, 28(3), 223237. doi: 10.1080/10572252.2018.1551576

“This article examines the emergence of technical communication as an academic field in China from the perspectives of pedagogy, program building, market needs, professionalization, and local sociopolitical contexts. Highlighting the close disciplinary connections between translation and technical communication, it identifies visionary faculty with overseas experiences as national leaders in curriculum innovation. It also explores the close industry-academia connections facilitated by semi-open WeChat groups and existing approaches to building international partnerships with technical communicators in China.”

Rhonda Stanton

Learning to contradict and standing up for the company: An exploration of the relationship between organizational dissent, organizational assimilation, and organizational reputation

Croucher, S. M., Zeng, C., & Kassing, J. (2019). International Journal of Business Communication, 56(3), 349–367. doi: 10.1177/2329488416633852

“This study explored relationships between organizational assimilation, organizational reputation, and organizational dissent. Survey data collection using standard instruments was conducted with a sample of employees drawn from three countries (the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia). Analysis revealed that the expression of dissent to management and to coworkers was significantly and positively correlated with both organizational assimilation and organizational reputation. In particular, findings suggest that employees who reported being more socialized within their respective organizations also expressed more dissent to managers and to coworkers. Similarly, employees who reported perceiving their organizations as more ethical and reputable were more likely to express dissent to managers and coworkers. Additional analyses indicated that the relationships identified between variables were immune to the effects of organizational tenure and national culture. In particular, the results show that organizational assimilation is a key determinant of organizational dissent and that organizational reputation is a key reason that employees express it.”

Katherine Wertz

Left in the dust: Employee constructions of mission and vision ownership

Kopaneva, I. M. (2019). International Journal of Business Communication, 56(1), 122–145. doi: 10.1177/2329488415604457

“Research on organizational mission and vision primarily has approached the concepts from managerial perspectives. This study employed a communicative constitution of organizations perspective to problematize the concepts of mission/vision alignment and assimilation and to focus on employee mission/vision ownership. The study sought to understand how employees construct ownership, that is, their ability to control, change, or contribute to mission and vision. A thematic analysis of 46 in-depth interviews with employees from 22 organizations revealed factors that impede employee ownership and those that facilitate it. The findings have important implications for understanding an employee’s role in the construction of organizational reality.”

Katherine Wertz


Do scientific objects have a history? Pasteur and Whitehead in a bath of lactic acid

Latour, B., & Davis, L. (2019). Common Knowledge, 25(1), 126–142. doi: muse.jhu.edu/article/727130

“Latour in this essay criticizes and abandons the approach to science studies—in which the object of study is presumed to be inert and passively circulating amid networks of practices, institutions, authorities, and historical events—that he took in ‘The “Pédofil” of Boa Vista,’ an article published in the spring 1995 issue of Common Knowledge. Here he argues that Whitehead’s neglected text Process and Reality offers the possibility of a radical historical realism that puts the scientific object and the scientist’s laboratory on the same footing. His case study is of the Lille laboratory where, in 1858, Pasteur identified a yeast responsible for lactic fermentation. Even as Pasteur acted to cause the yeast to emerge, he felt—in a way that practicing scientists often attest—that he was ‘led’ to do so by the propensity of things. Whitehead enables us to understand that it was not Pasteur alone who altered the representation of fermentation; the fermentation itself modified its manifestation. Hence there is historicity not only on the human side of scientific discovery—the story of Pasteur and his yeast—but also historicity on the nonhuman side—the story of the yeast and its Pasteur.”

Edward A. Malone


Communicating elective sterilization: A feminist perspective

Davis, S., & Dubisar, A. M. (2019). Rhetoric of Health & Medicine, 2(1), 88–113. doi: 10.5744/rhm.2019.1004

“Patient-OBGYN (obstetrics and gynecology) communication about contraception and reproduction can be fraught with ideological pressures, cultural assumptions, and emotion-based claims and concerns. Specifically, the topic of elective sterilization for women often invokes preconceived notions of femininity and mothering. Based on medical pamphlets and online discussion forums, [this] analysis reveals how gendered discrepancies exist in medical information about elective sterilization. This persuasion brief aims to invite OBGYNs to understand how cultural and traditional views of gender inform medical decisions and oppress women’s reproductive autonomy. It offers suggestions for OBGYNs, women seeking sterilization, and scholars in the rhetoric of health and medicine.”

Edward A. Malone

Computational approach to assessing rhetorical effectiveness: Agentic framing of climate change in the congressional record 1994–2016

Majdik, Z. A. (2019). Technical Communication Quarterly, 28(3), 207–222. doi: 10.1080/10572252.2019.1601774

“The goal of this paper is to consider rhetorical effects as the propagation of rhetorical expressions across large sets of texts, measured by the extent to which rhetorical expressions, structures, or practices become replicated in texts and sites of rhetorical in(ter)vention. The paper draws on lines of scholarship in the digital humanities and computational rhetoric—primarily, sequential structuring of semantic contexts, semantic parsing of unstructured text, and diachronic tracking of textual expressions—to extend their conceptual and methodological insights into a computational framework for assessing rhetorical effectiveness. It offers a test case for this concept through an analysis of how Congress has framed human agency toward addressing climate change.”

Rhonda Stanton

A neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) soundscape: Physiological monitors, rhetorical ventriloquism, and earwitnessing

Bivens, K. M. (2019). Rhetoric of Health & Medicine, 2(1), 1–32. doi: 10.5744/rhm.2019.1001

“Considering aurality (hearing) and sonicity (sounds/noises) in our research sites promises much for rhetoric of health and medicine (RHM) scholars. To show this value, [the author argues] aural awareness of soundscapes provides opportunities to sensorially enrich our understanding of sonic experiences in acute care hospital settings, as in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) site at the center of [this] case study. To that end, the purpose of this article is threefold: 1) to identify aurality as a sensorial aspect in healthcare sensescapes worthy of RHM inquiry; 2) to foreground how these soundscapes shape care and caretaking in healthcare and clinical settings; and 3) to propose more careful considering and attending, as ‘earwitnesses,’ to the sonic experiences of bodies in these settings.” The author proposes ‘rhetorical ventriloquism’ as a useful, responsible concept to consider how these sounds and noises appear to stand in for bodies and their physiologies and shape those bodies’ care, while amplifying those bodies as the healthcare technologies speak and sound for them.” The author suggests that “RHM scholars can act as earwitnesses who attend to sonicity and aurality in healthcare and clinical settings, as well as study how people are sensorially trained in these settings.”

Edward A. Malone

Rhetorical tactics to influence responsibility judgments: Account giving in bank presidents’ letters during the financial market crisis

Brühl, R., & Kury, M. (2019). International Journal of Business Communication, 56(3), 299–325. doi: 10.1177/2329488415627356

“This content analysis investigates bank presidents’ letters in the aftermath of the financial market crisis (2007/2008). [The authors] posit that managers use accounts as a rhetorical device in order to influence responsibility judgments of stakeholders.” The authors develop their hypothesis by drawing on “attribution theory, self-presentational theories and research on account giving.” From their model of responsibility judgment, the authors “infer how banks will react to their financial performance after the financial market crisis (2007/2008),” testing this hypothesis “with a sample built from 91 U.S. and European banks, which were all severely hit by this crisis. [Their] results indicate that bank managers use accounts as linguistic devices to influence the responsibility judgments of stakeholders: Refusals and to relativize are used to influence their situational perception, concessions and excuses target on locus and controllability perceptions, and initiatives and outlooks affect stability perceptions.”

Katherine Wertz

The right word for the right crowd: An attempt to recognize the influence of emotions

Wuillaume, A., Jacquemin, A., & Janssen, F. (2019). International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behavior & Research, 25(2), 243–258. doi: 10.1108/IJEBR-10-2017-0412

“The purpose of this paper is to propose a better understanding of how entrepreneurial narrative influences resource acquisition in the fundraising context. . . . The paper combines the literature on emotion as information theory from psychology with behavioral finance findings to develop a conceptual framework with research proposals highlighting the use of narratives in the crowdfunding process. . . . [T]he paper advocates that entrepreneurial narrative may influence crowdfunders’ attitude and decision to fund a project. It theorizes how emotions in narratives shape the funders’ attitude toward a project and, in turn, their decision to support it. This potential influence is qualified by taking into account the funders’ primary motivations. These motivations affect the degree to which funders rely on affect or cognition to form their attitude and to which they are influenced by more emotional or cognitive narratives.”

Yvonne Wade Sanchez

Science communication

There’s no such thing as scientific controversy

Graham, S. S., & Walsh, L. (2019). Technical Communication Quarterly, 28(3), 192–206. doi: 10.1080/10572252.2019.1571243

“[The authors] examine 81 rhetoric and technical communication studies of ‘scientific controversy.’ [Their] praxiographic analysis reveals that ‘scientific controversy’ is not one thing but three, each staged according to a radically different ontology; yet the literature continues to handle these ontologies the same and to privilege scientists’ demarcation claims in their analysis. [The authors] conclude the modifier scientific should be abandoned entirely in controversy studies and recommend an antilogical rather than dialectical approach to controversy.”

Rhonda Stanton


Error aligned

Shoemaker, T. (2019). Textual Cultures: Texts, Contexts, Interpretation, 12(1), 155–182. doi: 10.14434/textual.v12i1.27153

“This essay tracks the digital afterlives of etaoin shrdlu, typographic error turned textual agent. A media effect of Linotypes, this phrase was meant to notify editors that their compositors’ fingers had slipped during transcription and a hot-metal line needed to be pulled. It was an internal memo, passed around the printshop—and it is now a recurring text string in digital archives of newspaper pages, where the phrase’s accidental inclusion in printed matter has been newly reset by automatic transcription processes. After examining the place of Linotypes in a long history of machine reading, [the author argues] that the presence of this machine’s error signal in digital corpora presents an opportunity to consider the extent to which automatic transcription works from an interpretive disposition.”

Edward A. Malone


Queering tactical technical communication: DIY HRT

Edenfield, A., Holmes, S., & Colton, J. (2019). Technical Communication Quarterly, 28(3), 117–191. doi: 10.1080/10572252.2019.1607906

“Given the barriers for transgender people to access affordable gender-transition care, online environments have witnessed a rise in user-generated instruction sets providing direction on the self-administration of hormone therapy. These ethical forms of tactical technical communication demonstrate the need to consider a new materialist approach to queer theory, which refuses to align queer agency with stable identities. Drawing directly from these user-generated instructions, this article articulates a theoretical framework for queer, tactical technical communication.”

Rhonda Stanton


An ethic of constraint: Citizens, sea-level rise viewers, and the limits of agency

Richards, D. P. (2019). Journal of Business and Technical Communication, 33(3), 292–337. doi: 10.1177/1050651919834983

“The design of online interactive visualizations is an ongoing area of research within technical communication, with recent work focusing on visualizations in risk-based contexts. This article shares the results of a large-scale user experience study on a popular interactive sea-level rise viewer aimed at facilitating decision making for individual users in coastal communities. Using this viewer, participants performed three major tasks related to individual property, community impacts, and future projections and gave feedback on the design, use value, and functionality of the tool. The participants were assessed on their ability to complete the three major tasks. The author discusses the implications of these results on the continued design of interactive risk visualizations and argues for a vision of user agency that is more constrained within the larger ethical paradigms of environmental communication.”

Sean C. Herring

Reducing harm by designing discourse and digital tools for opioid users’ contexts: The Chicago Recovery Alliance’s community-based context of use and PwrdBy’s technology-based context of use

Bivens, K. M. (2019). Communication Design Quarterly, 7(2), 17–27. doi: 10.1145/3274995.3274998

“The United States is struggling with an opioid overdose (OD) crisis. The opioid OD epidemic includes legally prescribed and illicitly acquired opioids. Regardless of if an opioid is legal, understanding users’ contexts of use is essential to design effective methods for individuals to reverse opioid OD. In other words, if health information is not designed to be contextually relevant, the opioid OD health information will be unusable. To demonstrate these distinct healthcare design contexts, [the author extends] Patient Experience Design (PXD) to include community-based and technology-based contexts of use by analyzing two case examples of the Chicago Recovery Alliance’s and PwrdBy’s attempts to decrease deaths by opioid OD. Next, [the author discusses] implications of community-based and technology-based PXD within communities of opioid users, critiquing each method and suggesting four contexts of use-heuristic categories to consider when designing health communication information for users in these contexts.”

Lyn Gattis


Finding our missing pieces: Women technical writers in ancient Mesopotamia

Raign, K. R. (2019). Journal of Technical Writing and Communication, 49(3), 338–364. doi: 10.1177/0047281618793406

“Contrary to current scholarship in technical communication, which places the first women technical writers in the period of 1641–1700 AD, the first technical documents were written by women in 2400 BCE—eight centuries earlier. Enheduanna—the first woman writer and the first nonanonymous author ever identified—wrote many of the period’s great poems, including A Hymn to Inanna. Her work calls into question our discipline’s belief that persuasive writing began with Homer and was conceptualized largely by men. This fact has the potential to completely revise the history of both technical and persuasive writing, and women’s role in that history.”

Anita Ford

The primary care clinic as writing space

Opel, D. S., & Hart-Davidson, W. (2019). Written Communication, 36(3), 347–465. doi: 10.1177/0741088319839968

Technical writing plays a part in studies of how to improve efficiency and outcomes for the U.S. healthcare system. “In a primary care health clinic, providers before, after, and throughout their shifts retrieve archival patient information and document new empirical data from each patient encounter into an electronic medical record (EMR). This documentation, called charting, contributes to ever increasing workload and provider burnout. While a provider may not perceive it to be, ‘charting’ is writing work, and the clinic is a writing space. In this article, [the authors] use the concept of writing stewardship to examine a needs analysis of workflow in a family health center. [They] argue that the addition of writing stewards would shift the burden of documentation practices to distribute writing throughout the clinic, not primarily on providers. The implications of this are twofold: first, that writing studies researchers can help clinics write more efficiently and, second, that patient outcomes improve as a result of improved clinical communication.” The authors draw the line between technical writers as researchers and patients as subject matter experts to make the case for how today’s focus on EMRs demand more attention to writing to create the health outcomes we need.

Diana Fox Bentele

Punctuation as rhetorical notation? From colon to semicolon

Rhodes, N. (2019). Huntington Library Quarterly, 82(1), 87–106. doi: 10.1353/hlq.2019.0004

“The word punctuation is not used in English until 1593. The earlier term, used from the late Middle Ages, was pointing, which meant a sign system for pausing in reading. This rhetorically based principle of punctuation continued to operate during the sixteenth century but was gradually superseded by the logical system, which mapped out the grammatical structure of a sentence. The punctuation mark that best typifies the earlier system is the colon, since this was used to identify the cola (members) of a periodic discourse and represented a mid-length pause. This essay . . . discuss[es] different uses of the colon in a range of printed texts from the second half of the sixteenth century (psalms, hexameter verse, translations from Cicero, prose pamphlets, and drama). Neil Rhodes argues that the 1590s is the decade when the semicolon supersedes the colon in a move that encapsulates the broader transition from pointing to punctuation.”

Edward A. Malone