Fostering Excellence in Business Communication

ABC Newsletter

Issue 8, Spring 2016

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From the editor

Sky Marsen, ABC News Editor

Welcome to the Spring 2016 Issue

I hope the year is progressing successfully for you. In this issue, we have interesting news about ABC initiatives and events, as well as a new section profiling ABC members.

This issue profiles two new members. We will draw from all members in future issues. At this stage I am using random selection, but if you think you or someone else should be profiled in order to showcase an important recent contribution to ABC or the business communication community, please contact me.

Before reading the contents of the issue, you might find this reminder of dates and deadlines useful.

Important dates for upcoming conferences are:

ABC 81st Annual International Conference, October 19-22, in Albuquerque:

April 18 deadline for  Preconference workshop proposals
May 16 deadline for individual paper proposals

Western Regional Conference, May 19-21, in Denver, Colorado: submission deadline March 30

Since March is also the month of St Patrick's Day it's worth remembering that the 2017 ABC annual conference will be held in Dublin, Ireland.

Information about ABC conferences can be found here.

Upcoming deadlines for projects and some of our awards are:

Ambassador Travel Award - April 1.

Distinguished Publication on Business Communication - May 1.

Outstanding Dissertation Award - June 1.

Pearson Award for Innovation in Teaching with Technology - August 15.

Award for Excellence in Communication Consulting - August 15.

C. R Anderson Research Fund Applications - September 1.

Nominations and applications are welcome for all these.
I hope you enjoy reading the newsletter. As usual, I would appreciate any news or stories relevant to the ABC membership for future issues.

Sky Marsen
ABC News Editor

From the executive director

Jim Dubinsky, ABC Executive Director

Dear ABC Members,
Leo Tolstoy said, “Spring is the time of plans and projects.”  With spring now upon us, I write to encourage you to begin thinking ahead to the plans or projects associated with ABC that can bring you rewards. 
As some of you know, we have a number of conferences planned in April and May:
  •  The ABC MW/SE Regional conference (“Meet Me in St. Louis”) from April 21-23 at the Embassy Suites in St. Louis. 
  • The ABC West Regional conference from May 19-21 at Metropolitan State University of Denver in Denver, Colorado.
  • The GABC and ABC CCSA (Caribbean, Mexico, Central and South America) Regional conference from May 25-28 at Tecnologíco de Monterrey in San Luis Potosi, Mexico. 
While some of the deadlines have passed for submissions, not all have passed (the Western Conference is still accepting proposals).  More to the point, even if you haven’t submitted a proposal, you can still join your colleagues for wonderful learning and networking experiences.
Equally important, now is the time to begin looking at the many awards and grant opportunities available. You can find them on your ABC website.   Here are a few:
  • The ABC Rising Star Award
  • The Pearson Award for Teaching with Technology
  • The C. R. Anderson Research Grants
  • The Marty Baker Graham Research Award
  • Distinction in the Practice of Diversity and Inclusion Award
Now is the time to begin looking at the requirements and gathering the materials or recommendations you will need to apply.
Finally, I want to encourage you to look ahead to our next two ABC international events: this year’s conference in Albuquerque and 2017’s in Dublin, Ireland.  You can find more information about both on our website.   Both are game changers for our organization.  In Albuquerque, we will have virtual presentations and presentations in Spanish.  The conference in Dublin, Ireland is our organization’s first event outside of North America.  We are growing, changing, and taking root in a variety of new soils. 
Now is an exciting time to be a member.   I hope you agree and, if you do, I encourage you to share the news about ABC with your colleagues.
Please feel free to contact our office if you have questions.
Yours in service,

ABC News 
ABC 81st Annual Conference, Albuquerque

October 19-22, 2016

Join us in Albuquerque, New Mexico! Photo Credit: Ron Behrmann
  • Experience the authentic Southwest and revel in the sunshine! Albuquerque has sunshine for 310 days of the year. The average autumn temperature is 70 degrees.
  • Experience the culture. Albuquerque is home to more than 70 ethnicities; and the Southwestern culture is interwoven into every facet of the city, from the Pueblo- and Spanish-inspired architecture and world-famous cuisine, to the music and art.
  • Taste the flavor of Albuquerque. Chile. Chile. Do you prefer red or green? You may want to order “Christmas” when dining in Albuquerque. With “Christmas,” you get to sample both red and green chile. And did you know that New Mexico has a state cookie—the biscochito, an anise-flavored state cookie. How can you go wrong with that food choice? Join us in Albuquerque to savor the biscochito- you may not have that opportunity again!
  • Explore Historic Old Town and purchase a souvenir or two. Turquoise jewelry, pueblo pottery, Native American dreamcatcher . . . whatever you fancy, you can find among the shops and vendors in Historic Old Town Albuquerque.
  • Learn about groundbreaking scientific research and the major players in Albuquerque’s technology landscape. Visit the National Museum of Nuclear Science and History and learn the role Albuquerque played in the development of nuclear technology and weapons.
Albuquerque is the heart of the New Mexico Technology Corridor.Microsoft was, in fact, founded in Albuquerque in 1976 before moving to Bellevue, WA, a couple of years later. Today, the New Mexico Technology Corridor features high-tech companies and government institutions including Sandia National Labs, Kirtland Air Force Base, and Northrop Grumman. Intel operates one of its largest semiconductor factories in nearby Rio Rancho.
In addition to Kirtland Air Force Base, the aerospace industry in the Albuquerque area is anchored by the Air Force Research Laboratory’s Space Vehicles Directory, Honeywell Aerospace, and Lockheed Martin.New Mexico is ranked #2 in the country for its solar energy potential with companies involved in the research and development of alternative energy including Los Alamos National Laboratory, UniRac, and SolAero Technologies. In 2014, Forbes rated Albuquerque 7th among American’s engineering capitals. Further, the New Economy Index has ranked New Mexico 2nd in the country for the percentage of high tech jobs and 3rd for percentage of scientists and engineers.
Join us in Albuquerque!  Experience the authentic Southwest! Proposal submissions are now being accepted.  Information on session types and submission instructions can be found on the ABC website

Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, Credit:

Highlight from the 12th Regional Conference in Cape Town

Geert Jacobs, Bertha Du Babcock and Terri Grant at The Cape Town ABC conference
Figuratively speaking’: the facts and fictions of business and corporate communications, University of Cape Town, South Africa, 6-8 January 2016

One of the highlights of the conference was a panel discussion chaired by Judge Dennis Davis comprising media practitioners as well as academics.

How many of you have ever jumped a red traffic light? This was the challenge that veteran journalist Bruce Cameron posed to more than 120 delegates from 24 countries during the discussion.

Many of the delegates to the conference sheepishly raised their hands. Cameron was making a point that “most people are unethical” in direct retort to an argument by panellist Pierre Heistein that “humans are naturally ethical”. This topical issue of “Ethically Speaking” formed a pivot at the conference, which Dr Terri Grant, head of the Professional Communication Unit at UCT brought to the African continent for the first time.

The dynamic conference won a lot of accolades, not least from Regional Director, Professor Geert Jacobs of the University of Ghent, Belgium who said: “This was definitely a landmark event in ABC history: after 80 years, our first conference in Africa. This is the true spirit of internationalization.”

He added: “This was one of the best conferences I have ever attended: it was perfectly organized (smooth timing, great logistics, abundant delicious food), it was a huge success in terms of content (excellent and innovative work on research, teaching and the interface with practitioners, outstanding keynotes and an exhilarating panel discussion) and the social program was just wonderful (exquisite wine tasting opening reception, an  all-around Africa conference dinner  with stylish entertainment, super half-day Cape peninsula tour..”

“As I said in my wrap-up, it was also a uniquely context-sensitive conference: anyone who’s been to South Africa knows that it’s a strange, splendid country and Dr Terri Grant has done a terrific job in making sure that all delegates have come to love and understand and give back to some of the people living there.”

The conference also had a humanitarian aspect. The conference organisers donated 120 schoolbags from delegates of 24 countries to children at Khumbulani Health, Education and Resource Centre in Khayelitsha– a place that takes care of about 300 children.

Dr Grant, who is passionate about both sustainability and education and where these two issues meet said: “The conference themes encompassed corporate governance and social responsiveness, ethical communication and outreach, involving educationalists, scholars and practitioners so that theory and practice could work together to contribute to real-word solutions to real-world challenges. “Giving the bags a second life in the hands of a child instead of gathering dust in countless offices, seems like common sense – a type of recycling,” she said.

Marketing specialist Bev van Nijkerk of Sanlam (who were the original sponsor of the bags) was enthusiastic: “I love the idea of donating the bag afterwards to those who will really benefit from them.”

UCT Organizational Psychology lecturer Dr Ines Meyer has been providing organizational development support for Khumbulani over the past 12 years. She said: “Khumbulani is incredibly resourceful in sourcing support. One of their strengths lies in the passion, dedication and care with which they do their work. They make every child feel important – and they treat their visitors the same”.

Khumbulani School Director, Mrs Gloria Bebeza was delighted with the windfall. She said: “We are so grateful. We will give the bags to children whose mothers are unemployed. They have to use plastic supermarket bags. It’s really going to help.

A very successful conference all round! Congratulations to all involved in organizing it.

Panel at the ABC conference in Cape Town

Student Writing Contest

Get Your Students Engaged in the 2016 Writing Contest!

The ABC student writing contest is open for entries! This year’s case, “What Did IT Say?” challenges students to develop a clear communication strategy and to write effective emails for two very different audiences.

If you have identified a few strong student writer(s) in your class, you can offer them the opportunity to showcase their work by competing against their peers from across the country. Contest winners earn both recognition at the upcoming ABC conference in Albuquerque as well as a cash prize. The deadline for entries is Sunday, April 30 – still plenty of time to participate!

If you have a short case that you think would be great for an upcoming contest, please send it to Kelly Grant at If the committee chooses your case, you will receive recognition at the upcoming conference with a cash award.

Special Issue of Business and Professional Communication

Enabling Workplaces, Classrooms, and Pedagogies: Bringing Disability Theory and Accessibility to Business and Professional Communication
Deadline for Abstract submission: April 1, 2016
Since the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990, most communication-related fields have produced scholarship and practice which address disability and accessibility. However, hardly any research on disability and accessibility has been published in the fields of Business and Professional Communication. This special issue aims at breaking the ground in this erstwhile neglected area because disability and accessibility are of legal, human, and economic concern to business, industry, government, and professional organizations the world over. 
This special issue will include theoretical as well as applied practice articles in the context of disability and accessibility. Since BPCQ presents research on Business and Professional Communication as it relates to teaching, the theoretical and field research articles included in the special issue will include a section on the implications of the research for Business and Professional Communication pedagogy. Pedagogically centered manuscripts are also welcome as long as they are grounded in disability, accessibility, and other BPC theory pertinent to the focus of this special issue. Suggested topics for the special issue include but are not limited to the following:
Disability Theory and Workplace Practice:
Disability at the Intersections of Social Media and Business/Professional Communication
Accessibility, business and professional communication, and the equitable workplace
Business and professional communication, policy, law, and disability
Studies of corporate websites and disabled access
Studies of projects aimed at enhancing the accessibility of Business/Professional Communication
Studies of the representations of disability and/or accessibility in mass media by business and industry, governments, and nongovernmental organizations 
Focused studies of document features—language, page layout, visual design, etc.—that promote accessibility or exclude certain audiences
Affordances and excesses of Universal Design Theory
Business/Professional Communication Pedagogy, Disability, and Accessibility:
Ableism in business and professional communication courses
Designing an accessible business and/or professional communication course: How can instructors help our students be aware of and prepared for writing for accessibility?
Issues in teaching the anatomy of communicative access in a business and/or professional course
Critical appraisals of disability-centered business and/or professional communication course assignments designed under the social justice rubric
Designing accessible business communication classrooms and learning spaces
Rhetoric of accessibility in business and industry: implications for instructors and curricula
Accessibility of workplace communications and disabled employees: What can business and professional communication instructors do?
Nuanced Papers that Explore the Nature of Business and Professional Communication Practice from the Perspective of Disability and Accessibility:
How accessible are our business PowerPoint presentations?
How professional are inaccessible workplace communications?
How do organizations publically and privately articulate their responsibility in matters of disability and accessibility
What do organizational disability narratives look like and what purposes do they serve in the post-ADA organization?
How do the various models of disability—medical, social, critical social, etc.—play out in business, governmental, and nongovernmental organizations?
What do workplace communications tell us about how people with disabilities perceive themselves in relation to business and professional organizations and how do these perceptions translate into their access to information in these workplaces?
How do people with disabilities perceive, communicate about, and employ digital and other technologies in the workplace in relation to self and perceived barriers or enablers?
In what ways do government policies, online information providers, and information technology corporations affect the workplace disability divide?
What role should policies aimed at disability-justice play in legitimatizing the 21st-century business organization and what role should business and professional communication have in this policy dialog?
What effect does the absence, or presence, of disability in the workplace have on ableistic business and professional communication practices?
Guest Editor and Submission Information.
The special issue is being edited by Associate Professor Sushil Oswal, School of Interdisciplinary Arts & Sciences, University of Washington. The editor is glad to discuss initial topic ideas for papers and can be contacted directly:

Manuscripts will be double-blind reviewed, following BPCQ’s regular review process.  Submission is open to everyone whether or not a member of the Association for Business Communication.  Abstracts of 750 to 1,000 words (notes and references excluded) that include research questions, methods, data and/or theoretical frameworks, and conclusions should be emailed to Sushil Oswal no later than April 1, 2016:  Contributors will be informed of decisions by May 1, 2016. Deadline for submission of full manuscripts is August 1, 2016.

Member News

  Member Profiles

Here is some information on three of our new members: Christopher McKenna, Loy Watley and Marlies Whitehouse.

Chris McKenna, Stephen F. Austin State University

Before finally returning to academia, Christopher McKenna spent close to 25 years as a financial technology manager on Wall Street.At firms such as Morgan Stanley, Lehman Brothers, Bankers Trust, and Bank of America, he specialized in back-office processing, domestic and international trade clearance/settlement, brokerage accounting, and risk & compliance management.More recently, he served as the Chief Technology Officer of a 30B+ asset-management firm.
Having earned his PhD in English and American Studies at UNC Chapel-Hill, however, Chris moved into teaching business communication at both UNC-Chapel Hill and at North Carolina State University.Thanks to his background in English literature, he also taught a variety of literary genres at those institutions—including Shakespeare, Horror Fiction, Mystery/Detective Fiction, Native American literature, and Major American Authors.
Now at Stephen F. Austin State University as a faculty member in the Nelson Rusche College of Business, Chris McKenna concentrates once again on business communication, particularly with a twinned focus on practical business document creation and in providing students concentrated practice in oral communication via team- and research-based formal presentations.
When recently asked by incoming business students to provide the two most valuable tips he could think of for members of their peer group, Chris offered the following advice:
“First, when your instructor says you need to read the textbook…well, please read the textbook.
Second, don’t forget to be selectively selfish: make sure you are getting a sufficient amount of sleep.You can’t perform well when you’re burning the candle at both ends—and moreover, current medical research suggests that you’ll live longer if you do.”

Loy Watley Nebraska Wesleyan University
Loy Watley’s background has shifted between fast-growing small businesses and teaching-oriented schools. He supported organizational growth as a Director of Human Resources and a VP of Materials Management, and was President of a muzzleloading rifle manufacturer.

Loy’s Ph.D. In Organizational Behavior, with supporting areas in Business Ethics, Marketing, and HR, has had him teaching a wide variety of classes at Nebraska Wesleyan University for the past 18 years. After seeing the need for more focused instruction in speaking and writing, he created the University’s first Business Communication class, integrated the course into the Department major and the University’s general education program, and has been mentoring other faculty who also teach the course.

Loy’s research has primarily focused on ethical decision-making, and has been published in the Journal for Business Ethics and Business Ethics: A European Review. As a member of ABC, he is looking forward to learning more about the business communication field and incorporating new ideas into his teaching and research.

Marlies Whitehouse, University of Applied Sciences, Winterthur

Marlies Whitehouse, a scholar in language studies, Japanese, German, and English, University of Zurich, works at the University of Applied Sciences in Winterthur (Switzerland). She investigates text production and text reception with focus on intercultural, cross-domain, and intra-lingual aspects at the intersections of financial journalism, organizational communication and financial analysis.
By doing so, she combines her long-standing practice in the financial industry, her language knowledge, her intercultural experience, and her work as writing coach for international companies with a transdisciplinary understanding of research.
In the role of an AILA Research Network co-convenor Marlies is involved in the set-up and development of an international research net for scholars in the field of financial discourse. Over the last years, she has been production manager of the Handbook of Language and Media (Routledge) and the current and forthcoming volumes of the Handbook of Applied Linguistics series (de Gruyter).
Marlies is one of the editors of the forthcoming special issue “The pragmatics of financial communication. Inter-textual dynamics and linguistic strategies” of the International Journal of Business Communication.
Marlies joined the ABC to further intensify knowledge generation and transformation between researchers and practitioners in business communication. 

Academics Collaborate with IBM on Virtual Team Technology

ABC members Peter Cardon, Sky Marsen and Robyn Walker, from the Center for Management Communication, USC Marshall School of Business, and Minna Logemann from Aalto University, have recently completed a project in collaboration with IBM on virtual teamwork. They helped to fine tune IBM platform SocialStudent, an adaptation of IBM’s successful business networking platform Connections, for use in the teaching of business communication in universities.
SocialStudent includes audio and video meeting functions as well as advanced networking and collaboration functions, such as file sharing and team editing. The project consisted of a virtual team assignment involving students from different universities. It required students to collaborate through online meetings in order to produce a report analyzing the corporate reputation of an organization.
This project is an example of effective collaboration between academic and corporate contexts for both pedagogical and research purposes.

Members' Books

Business Writing Scenarios: Writing from the Inside. Jon Ramsey. Bedford St Martins, 2016.
The book offers a wide variety of genres in professional communications, four dozen freshly-created scenarios with challenging purposes, audiences, and strategies, and a focus throughout on critical thinking and on liberal arts values. The scenarios include many shorter pieces responding to challenging situations, plus more complex team tasks for constructing a grant proposal, a business plan, and an ethics advisory memo.

Revising Professional Writing, 4th Edition, Kathryn Riley, Kim Sydow Campbell, Alan Manning, Frank Parker. Parlay Press 2016.

Each of the 21 chapters explains research-backed principles for revising or editing a single element (e.g., informative graphics, bottom line placement, conciseness, pronoun reference, etc.) The succinct explanatory text is followed by revision and editing problems that require increasing levels of expertise within each chapter.

This book was featured also in the previous issue, but had a broken link and incomplete information. It's re-printed here with apologies.

South Asian in the Mid-South. Iswari Pandey. University of Pittsburgh Press 2015.

The book examines the South Asian immigrant community in the American Mid-South to track the migration of literacies, showing how different meaning-making practices are adapted and reconfigured for cross-language relations and cross-cultural understanding.

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