Additional concepts students should remember are discourse community
and organizational (or corporate) culture. Use PP 2-21 through PP 2-23
to illustrate these concepts.
Organizational or Corporate Culture
Norms of Behavior in an Organization
While there may be similarities, each discourse community and
organizational culture can be quite different from the next. Differences
can even exist among (and within) departments and subsidiaries within
the same organization. Students must use a combination of observation,
research through asking colleagues questions, and trial-and-error to learn
Spend at least 10 minutes defining and explaining organizational culture
and discourse communities and how they affect both spoken and written
messages. Use this terminology throughout your discussion of audience
and throughout the course as you discuss assignments students will
Teaching Tip: A common reaction from students to some
business communication concepts is “That’s not how we do it in my company.”
Take this opportunity to discuss discourse community and organizational culture.
What might the practice in question reveal about either? Ask the class if they believe
such a practice would work in a different discourse community or organizational
culture. Why or why not?
The concept of discourse communities is crucial: it explains in part why some documents
“succeed” on a particular job even though they would not get high grades in your course.
Teaching Tip: Make your course expectations and standards of grading for
assignments clear to your students. In effect, your classroom is one discourse
community, and students certainly will have to adapt to your standards throughout
the course. Invite them to ask questions and practice skills to assess its boundaries.
In-Class Exercise: Choose 3-4 different organizations and list them on the board.
Microsoft, the Walt Disney Corporation, Wendy’s International, etc., are good places
to start; a good source for this information would be the company Web sites, such as
www.microsoft.com; http://disney.com; www.wendys.com. For 15 minutes, have students list
what similar and dissimilar qualities each might have with regard to organizational
culture. For instance, who might the heroes be? Where might casual dress be
acceptable? How might success be determined? At the conclusion, take a quick poll
of how many students might want to work for each. Take another five minutes to
discuss with students why some organizations might seem more or less appealing.