Investigating communicative strategies in novice professional communities of practice: a comparative study of engineering and marketing meetings
Fahey Palma, Tania
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This study is concerned with the linguistic analysis of a subcorpus of Engineering and Marketing meetings within the context of Authentic Workplace Projects. The study considers the context of Authentic Workplace Projects in higher education settings as providing university students with the opportunity to experience life as professionals in their fields. Considering this, the present study aims to determine how novice professionals develop professional communication skills through examining their use of language in interaction. A comparative analysis of communicative strategies in the Engineering and Marketing meetings is carried out in order to determine the role of key linguistic features in contributing to identity construction, rapport management, organisational culture and conflict negotiation. Previous studies on institutional and workplace interaction focus on the role of language and communication in professional contexts. Through adopting Wenger’s Community of Practice framework, this study analyses the language of two participant groups in order to ascertain the communicative practices employed in constructing novice professional communities of practice. As this study employs an institutional or workplace approach to the data, core areas of workplace communication are considered in the meetings of novice professionals in order to determine how interactional goals are achieved. Through conducting an analysis of the communicative strategies contributing to the development of core communication skills, this study aims to uncover how novice professional communities construct unique identities and establish cultural norms. This study employs a mixed method approach through the use of Corpus Linguistics, Conversation Analysis and Pragmatics as tools in the examination of linguistic features prevalent in workplace interactions. This includes the examination of pronouns, humour, topic and politeness strategies. The use of these specific linguistic features is considered crucial in underlining the different dynamics and power processes in work-based interaction. The results show that the use of communicative strategies varies in novice professional communities of practice. This is demonstrated in the different cultural norms and values in the shared repertoire of each participant group. The study highlights the dynamic use of language in interaction and demonstrates the effectiveness of communicative strategies in constructing group cohesion, leadership and professional identity.