Business Communication in Context: Principles and Practice

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9780134843612: Business Communication in Context: Principles and Practice

Business Communication in Context focuses on communication situations found in business and the workplace. This book emphasizes context first, then the stream of decisions a thoughtful businessperson should make to achieve maximum communication success: internal communication with employees; external communication with customers, clients, and suppliers; problem-solving and decision-making communications, both written and oral; intercultural and international communication; business etiquette; ethical decisions; and so forth. To emphasize context, each chapter opens with a brief business case. The case sets the scene and introduces communication problems, which thread throughout the chapter that follows. The case serves as a touchstone for the presentation of communication principles and for class discussion of communication practices, stimulated by Case Questions appearing throughout the chapter. Each chapter also starts with a Self-Assessment Quiz readers can use to rate their awareness of a particular set of communication issues and ends with Applications and Assignments for practicing the principles explored in the chapter. Applications present communication dilemmas other businesspeople have confronted, asking readers to analyze the information and propose "best practice" solutions. Ultimately this texts purpose is to help people improve their business communication skills. The theory presented in the chapters aims at providing the underpinnings for good choices about practice.

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From the Inside Flap:

Preface

This book began with my students—at Purdue University's Krannert Graduate School of Management, at Georgetown University's School of Business Administration, at Prince George's Community College, and in my corporate training seminars. In any given semester, the majority of the people in these classes are adults with work experience, often management experience. Many are familiar with the fundamentals of marketing, information systems, accounting, finance, human resources, and the other functional areas of management either through course work already completed or through on-the-job experience. They are in school because they want to improve their promotability, move into a related career area, or switch careers entirely. These are people who already know something about business basics.

Where they need help, on the other hand, is in communicating more effectively in the workplace. If we can safely assume students' familiarity with basic accounting principles or how to write a business plan, we cannot assume that the student has had much success drafting effective business letters or has been part of a team tasked with writing a feasibility study. The same person who can run a company-wide computer network may send unintelligible e-mail messages and write progress reports so poorly organized that upper management can't tell whether projects are on schedule or not. A manager who has enjoyed 10 years of success and promotions may also be a person whose staff meetings put employees to sleep and whose presentation slides are a chore to decipher. Even those whose education has included a business communication fundamentals course need additional instruction that is geared for their present level of experience, instruction geared for someone who is not a novice in terms of business knowledge but who may well be inexpert in terms of communication awareness and skill. This book was written to answer that need. A CONTEXT BASED STRUCTURE

With an eye to its audience, Business Communication in Context focuses on communication situations found in business and the work world. In keeping with that focus, this book is structured differently than most other business communication texts, which typically are organized by genre—letters, memos, reports, oral presentations. But business people do not arrive at the office thinking, "Today I'm going to write a letter." Rather, they find themselves in work situations or facing management problems from which needs to communicate arise. From those needs stem choices that ultimately result in a written or spoken product—sometimes both. Certainly, complete information about letters, memos, reports—and much else besides—is here. But this book places the emphasis on context first, then on the stream of decisions a thoughtful business person should make to achieve maximum communication success: internal communication with employees; external communication with customers, clients, and suppliers; problem-solving and decision-making communications, both written and oral; intercultural and international communication; business etiquette; ethical decisions; and so forth. COMMUNICATION CASES FROM REAL LIFE BUSINESSES

To emphasize context, each chapter opens with a brief business case. The opening case is not an isolated example presented at the beginning and never referred to again. Instead, the case sets a scene and introduces communication problems, which then thread through the chapter that follows. The case thus serves as a touchstone for the presentation of communication principles and for class discussion of communication practices, stimulated by Case Questions appearing throughout the chapter. Each of the cases describes a business situation from real life that posed communication dilemmas and choices for real people in real organizations—organizations that range widely in size, type, character, and diversity of employees. They were selected to represent not only the well-known names familiar from the pages of The Wall Street Journal or Business Week (in fact, all names have been changed) but also to represent small, entrepreneurial, and medium-sized businesses, the places where many of the nation's business and management graduates are employed. A CULTURAL APPROACH TO PRINCIPLES AND PRACTICE

Cultures employ a broad scope in this text. The book begins with organizational culture and branches out to examine communicating within and between cultures, including international contexts. It frames common business communication forms such as memos, letters, and reports in a cultural context as well: whether readers and listeners are internal to the organization or external to it. Additionally, business communication is examined in relation to some cultural constituents not usually represented, such as disabled employees, religious and ethnic minorities.

In a full chapter on business ethics, communication issues are examined from the viewpoint of the legal and moral obligations that businesses and their representatives have to various stakeholders. The chapter examines six well-known philosophical frameworks in layperson's terms, discussing how these can be used to make ethical business decisions in domestic and international contexts.

Since social behavior is a fundamental aspect of culture, Business Communication in Context also examines the social contexts of business—in short, business etiquette. "Appropriate" behavior is in flux as methods of doing business change. However, rather than becoming less important, social behavior in business settings actually takes on more importance as the risk increases that verbal and nonverbal signals may be misunderstood. The need to raise awareness about how social behavior affects business is one of the reasons reviewers have been so enthusiastic about the business etiquette chapter.

Although most readers will have some familiarity with business and perhaps even some business communication basics, the text does not assume readers are well grounded in the principles of business and managerial communication. Particularly in the early chapters, it also addresses organizational communication theory as a necessary contextual component for understanding the movement of communications in and through businesses. End-of-chapter Notes refer readers to the research and reference sources that underlie the chapter content.

Ultimately this text's purpose is to help people improve their business communication skills. Thus the theory presented in the chapters aims at providing the underpinnings for good choices about practice. Each chapter starts with a Self-Assessment Quiz readers can use to rate their awareness of a particular set of communication issues. Each ends with Applications and Assignments for practicing the principles explored in the chapter. Applications present communication dilemmas other business people have confronted, asking readers to analyze the information and propose "best practice" solutions. Assignments are just that: things for readers to do that require them to create a business document or oral response to present to the instructor or classmates. Many of the assignments involve pair or group work to encourage team and interpersonal skill building. WHAT ISN'T INCLUDED

Although it refers frequently to e-mail, Internet Web sites, computerized presentations, and other forms of electronic communication technology, Business Communication in Context does not include a section dedicated to the technology itself. Technology is so fast moving, and business students and practitioners so quick to learn how to use new technological tools, that any technical instruction provided in a textbook would be outdated before it reached the marketplace. We assume our readers will learn the tools. Our job is to address the communication choices they confront when working with those tools. For example, this textbook does not explain how to create a computerized slide presentation; instead, it discusses the design elements that should be considered when developing any projected visual presentation.

Neither does this book include a handbook section of grammar, punctuation, and usage rules. The information that can be provided in such a section is much too limited to be useful to people who need help with sentence-level correctness. Instead, what they really need is a full-scale reference manual or a writer's handbook like those assigned for college English composition courses. Every business professional should own a writer's handbook and should refer to it whenever in doubt about grammar or punctuation usage.

In fact, every business student and practitioner should own a personal reference shelf of essential books for his or her professional life. Foremost in that collection, of course, should be a well-read copy of Business Communication in Context. Next to it should be a good writer's handbook, and, next to that, a recently published desk dictionary, not for spelling (your computer's spell-checker can do that faster) but for looking up definitions and etymologies to ensure correct w

From the Back Cover:

To emphasize context, each chapter opens with a brief business case. The case sets the scene and introduces communication problems, which thread throughout the chapter that follows. The case serves as a touchstone for the presentation of communication principles and for class discussion of communication practices, stimulated by Case Questions appearing throughout the chapter.

Each chapter also starts with a Self-Assessment Quiz readers can use to rate their awareness of a particular set of communication issues and ends with Applications and Assignments for practicing the principles explored in the chapter. Applications present communication dilemmas other businesspeople have confronted, asking readers to analyze the information and propose "best practice" solutions.

Ultimately this text's purpose is to help people improve their business communication skills. The theory presented in the chapters aims at providing the underpinnings for good choices about practice.

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