Corporate Communication as Professional Discourse
SYLVAIN DIELTJENS / PRISCILLA HEYNDERICKX Instructive Discourse in Internal Business Communication: Comprehensibility and Target Group Orientation 1. Introduction Companies seem to be confronted quite often with the low efficiency and effectiveness of the instructions they give to the work floor. To address this problem, we have analysed a corpus of instructions from Belgian companies in different sectors. Our aim was to identify elements that affect readability and therefore undermine the communication process. Before we present the results of our analysis, we describe the most important characteristics of instructive discourse and discuss the most frequent dysfunctions in internal business communication. 2. Instructive discourse In their research on the social psychology of organizations, Katz and Kahn (1978) distinguish five key functions of top-down communica- tion. Two of these key functions (2 and 4) concern instructions, rules and procedures. Top-down communication: 1) gives instructions for carrying out tasks; 2) explains the necessity and the goals of tasks in the organization; 3) prescribes procedures and rules; 4) gives feedback on performances; 5) motivates and indoctrinates the members of the organization. Sylvain Dieltjens / Priscilla Heynderickx70 Instructive discourse can be situated in the Four Sides Model of communication. As Schulz von Thun (1981) illustrated with this communication square model, a message has four different layers of communication. Figure 1. The Four Sides Model of Schulz von Thun (1981). Factual information is concerned with data, statements, actions etc. The self-revealing layer gives information about the sender: his status, motives, values etc. The relationship layer expresses the...
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