This dissertation is about the nature and value of technical and professional communication (TPC) as a field of workplace practice, particularly about how perceptions of TPC among those outside the field can influence the perceived legitimacy of the field more broadly and what implications those perceptions can offer on practical, scholarly, pedagogical and programmatic levels. The dissertation is organized into five chapters. Chapter 1 deals with how TPC has been characterized in academic literature over the years and how a disconnect between academic theory and workplace practice has evolved into the present. Chapter 1 also introduces four constructs—competencies, professional identity, legitimacy, and power—that become a basis for a practical model of TPC in this dissertation. Chapter 2 deals with three concepts from other disciplines that are useful in conceptualizing and studying workplaces in TPC scholarship. Next, chapter 3 begins with the practical framework for TPC and then proceeds to discuss a rhetorical basis for studying workplace phenomena in TPC and an empirical study methodology for studying extradisciplinary perceptions (those held by non-TPC professionals) of TPC. That methodology is based upon a modified grounded theory approach using semi-structured interviews and two-cycle qualitative coding. Chapter 4 presents detailed findings from the empirical study. Findings include the results of 31 interviews and eight patterns developed from analysis of interview data. Limitations of the study are discussed. Chapter 5 provides a detailed discussion of implications of empirical findings for practice, research, pedagogy and programs (both praxis-focused and academic research-focused) as well as thoughts for future consideration in scholarship.
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. June 2021. Major: Rhetoric and Scientific and Technical Communication. Advisor: Lee-Ann Breuch. 1 computer file (PDF); xli, 226 pages.
Fertile Grounds in Technical and Professional Communication: Identity, Legitimacy, Power, and Workplace Practice.
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