Intercultural organizing: the role of communication strategies on the factory floor
thesisposted on 28.03.2022, 23:01 by M. Laura Ficorilli
Taking a linguistic ethnographic approach this study explores the inextricability of communication strategies (CS) and work practices among workers of non-English speaking-background, in a contemporary Australian manufacturing company. The notion of CS is conceptualized through a focus on both the ‘interculturality’ of interactions and the enactment and embedding of organizational/institutional discourses in the texture of day-to-day work activities. Special emphasis is placed on the organizing properties of CS as a social practice in the workplace context and the processes through which organized work come together through communication. To this aim the notions of ‘site of engagement’ and ‘nexus of practice’ are used as the theoretical and analytical backdrop of the study to illustrate how the trajectories of body/action, talk and institutional order converge into concerted activities. The data comprise participant observation, interviews, retrospective commentaries and the recording of a large corpus of naturally occurring interactions. Specifically, participants’ pre- and post-event accounts of work interactions are contrasted with naturally occurring data in order to highlight the discursive construction of CS, in interviews, and their actual occurrence ‘on line’ respectively. This nested analysis sheds light in particular on CS’ meanings and relevance to individuals as members of the organization and the extent towhich individuals themselves are allowed to participate in nexuses’ formation. The author extends the evaluation of previous approaches and definitions of CS in mainstream Applied Linguistics research to include ongoing efforts at mutual coordination, and control of actions and knowledge by interlocutors in response to actual or perceived difficulties among interlocutors to communicate. In this respect, she argues that the notion of ‘problematic communication’ is also to encompass the interplay of agency and institutional order. The role and effective use of CS, in this regard, relate to the degree of individuals’ participation or lack thereof as well as resistance to/compliance with organizational goals. The author proposes a multi-perspectival working model for analysing CS which is based on a flexible ‘multi-laminated’ theoretical and methodological framework. This framework encompasses the tools of sociolinguistic discourse analysis and mediational discourse analysis, embedded in ethnographic information on actual interactions and an ethnomethodological approach to interview data. The multifaceted investigation adopted in the study enables a view of ‘communication skills’ learning, as referred to in ESP and workplace ESL programs, which goes beyond the ‘deficit view’ of merely being linguistic shortcomings. In this regard, the implications for learning communication skills in the workplaces are also discussed.