Kate Agena

Process and power: Building strategies for technical communicators to effect organizational change

D. Kate Agena

  • School: Purdue University (0183)
  • Degree: Ph.D.
  • Date: 2006; pp: 143
  • Advisor: Sullivan, Patricia
  • Source: DAI-A 67/10, Apr 2007
  • Subjects: Rhetoric, Composition, Organizational Behavior, Organization Theory
  • ProQuest Document Number:1221727031
  • ISBN: 9780542945526
  • UMI Number: AAT 3239758


    This project extends work toward building strategies to improve the status of technical communication by arguing that shifts in product development processes, such as the current shift in software development from waterfall to iterative methods, open gaps for technical communicators to take rhetorical action resulting in increased status. I explain the waterfall to iterative shift and examine the ways in which the shift disrupts power relations between managers, engineers, and technical communicators. I articulate a heuristic that outlines a number of factors to consider while exploring how the process and power connection functions in a particular workplace. Two workplace case studies apply the heuristic and provide examples of how process and power function in real-world organizations, as well as provide insight into the practical consequences of the shift. The cases also include examples of organizational change brought about through intentional rhetorical action. I then summarize the characteristics of organizational context and development processes that have been identified as providing possible opportunities for rhetorical action in order to begin to build strategies for effecting organizational change. I present practical and theoretical implications on the theory, practice, and pedagogy of technical communication.