Rhetoric in Business Communication

As you may know, I’ve been involved with the rhetoric special interest group of the Association for Business Communication since I joined the organization in 2009. For the last two years, I’ve served as the second-in-command (or consigliere, or whip, or whatever term you prefer) to the SIG’s leader, Amanda Bemer. In this role, I began developing a database of rhetoric-oriented articles from ABC’s journals, Journal of Business Communication and Business Communication Quarterly.

I didn’t progress as far as I would have liked on the project, thanks to a tiny little thing called a dissertation. Praise be to cheeses, though, I’m done with that now (and I never have to do it again). Now that I’m done, I don’t want this database to fall by the wayside. I’m still sorting through a pile of articles from the 1980s and earlier, but the more recent articles have all been added to the database. You can view it here: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0AtTlTc2mB-VedGFBSnptRzZPd1RVa3NDNXFJVzVlVXc&usp=sharing

Feel free to suggest any recent articles that I may have inadvertently left off the list.

As for my methods, I found these articles with a simple keyword search for “rhetoric” in the two ABC journals. I may later broaden the search to include other related journals, such as JBTC. For this first round, though, I wanted to keep the focus on the organization’s publications, as the search is closely related to.

Once I’ve completed the list, I’ll take the next step of coding by content to identify consistent patterns in these publications. My initial search is already suggesting one general pattern: over time, there seems to be a steady increase in the sheer number of articles that discuss rhetoric.

It’s far too early to speculate as to cause(s) for this rise, but I’ll do it anyway. I suspect that the increase is linked to the rise of graduate programs in rhetoric and professional/business communication. I plan to examine histories of the field (and related fields) to determine if this is the case, and what other major events or occurrences might be linked to the rise. If you have any speculations of your own, send them my way in the comments.

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