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Workplace Communication from a Wider Angle

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Man reading from his agenda

The fall 2019 Bulletin brings an assortment of articles by authors whose communication work pertains to business activity for an array of purposes from a variety of perspectives. The opening article by Gerald Alred takes a long view of textbooks in our field. Working on this article with Professor Alred has been a pleasure and our conversation raised some very interesting questions. Has the textbook author’s compensation changed proportionate to the increased cost of the textbooks for students? How do the textbook rentals available from online bookstores  affect this market? Who is benefiting from the rentals besides the students who do not want to purchase a book?  How does the trend toward selling portions of an eBook to students—in case their instructor is only assigning a selection—affecting the integrity of a book? Who gains and who loses from these “sliced and diced” chapters? Alred shared that such practices might work against theoretically-based, coherent and unified approaches.

Changing classroom practices also raise some interesting questions about the use of textbooks. For example, we do not know how many instructors are using traditional textbooks in their flipped classrooms and how often. For example, those of us whose programs stress the use of learning management systems (LMS), our students read the assigned business and technical communication book chapters, post their reading responses on the LMS discussion boards for one another with the instructors mostly lurking on the side, and the instructors focus on only those aspects of the reading in class which students thought were not as clear to them. Most of the in class time is used for applying the textbook concepts to workplace problems in the form of cases or scenarios.

Katherine Breward’s teaching case on workplace interview practices is the first article about disability in the Bulletin—an often neglected topic in business-oriented publications—and we hope that our readers will try to engage themselves, their students, and employees in training sessions with the questions raised in this case relating societal and workplace responses to autistic employees. To extend this dialog about disability in the workplace, we invite commentaries in response to this Canadian piece from our readers which will be published in the spring 2020 issue. We would also like to know how your teaching of this case went in your classes.

Eugene Sivadas’ article on marketing channels gives an insight into the problems caused for sellers by their use of old and new communication technologies and channels—face-to-face selling in brick-and-mortar stores and through the online portals. From the perspective of business communication profession, this omni-channel world seems to have opened new niches for consulting and communication strategy work in marketing.     

Mikel Chertudi’s interview with Allison Gabriel gives a fascinating view of the gender complications in the contemporary workplace—complications, in fact, resulting from the increased presence of women in the leadership positions but not enough to go around for all the women employees. Marianna Richardson’s article on changing motivation theories draws attention to motivation methods that workers do not perceive as manipulation by their supervisors and want to adopt of their own volition. Sabrina Pasztor’s interview with Cynthia Heller Alt demonstrates how consulting expertise is relevant to business communication courses and how it could benefit our students.  

Mollie Hartup and Amy Cossentino’s Study of students in a college honors program presents important findings that point toward email communication strategies that promote student development and success. Andrew Ogilvie advises students to write reader-centered messages that meet their needs.  

Last, this issue includes a call for commentaries from our readers who have been affected by the recent budget cuts for higher education. We hope that you share your perspectives for the special feature on this topic in the spring 2020 Bulletin. 

Acknowledgments

This issue would not have been possible without the support of several individuals and we list their names here in no specific order: Jolanta Aritz, Marilyn S. Buerkens, Geoffrey Clegg, Jodie Lewers Chertudi, Keshreeyaji S. Oswal, Jr., and Hitender Oswal. They were involved in various operations for this issue ranging from anonymous reviewing, promoting the call for papers, designing, editing, proofreading, and formatting of manuscripts. We thank them for these contributions. We also thank all our authors for responding to our requests for revisions promptly and making this issue ready for our readers in time before the 2019 Association for Business Communication Conference in Detroit.   

Sushil Oswal
oswal@u.washington.edu

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