A Historical Review of Business Communication Quarterly

Article excerpt

Since the inception of its predecessors in the 1930s, Business Communication Quarterly has evolved from a duplicated, newsletter-type publication into a glossy, professional, refereed journal. During this evolution, hundreds of authors and more than a dozen editors have contributed to BCQ's progress. Articles on a broad variety of topics have provided pedagogical support to new and experienced teachers alike. Presented here is a brief history of BCQ, a glimpse at BCQ's most popular manuscript topics, and a listing of its editors and most prolific authors. Frequency of topical coverage by decade is also included. Veteran ABC members and new members alike should find interesting the topical publishing trends throughout the sixty-plus year history of the Association and the Business Communication Quarterly.

Keywords: ACTBW Bulletin, AWBA Bulletin, ABCA Bulletin, ABC Bulletin, Business Communication Quarterly

ASSOCIATION FOR BUSINESS COMMUNICATION roots date back at least to the mid-1930s. C. R. Anderson and others began what was then known as the Association of College Teachers of Business Writing. The organization has evolved through the years and experienced several name changes. After only a year of existence the name was changed in 1937 to American Business Writing Association. Thirty years later American Business Communication Association was selected as the new name. In 1985, the organization became known by its present name, the Association for Business Communication (ABC).

ABC publications include the Journal of Business Communication and the Business Communication Quarterly. Precursors of BCQ include the ACTBW Bulletin, which was published only one time in December 1936; the AWBA Bulletin; the ABCA Bulletin; and the ABC Bulletin.

For a more detailed review of the history of the Association, go to www.theabc.org. Locker provides a comprehensive chronology of ABC in The Journal of Business Communication (Locker, 1998).


The purpose of this article is to provide a "thumbnail sketch" of the articles published in BCQ and its predecessors since the inception of what is now the Association for Business Communication. Data include topics and authorship for various decades, as well as cumulative publication data through the December 2000 (Volume 63, Number 4) issue. The discussion will remind longtime ABC members of the direction the Bulletin/Quarterly has taken through its three-score years of publication. New members will recognize the progress made by various editors through an assortment of editorial and aesthetic changes. All readers should gain an appreciation for the historical significance of the Bulletin/BCQ, in particular its contributions to pedagogical issues related to business communication.


Data were collected from two sources: (1) An Index to the ABWA Bulletin, American Business Writing Association, Volumes 1-22, December 1936 to May 1958, and (2) personal copies of the Bulletin/BCQ, Volumes 23-63, October 1958 to December 2000. The table of contents of each issue was reviewed to determine topical coverage. If the article title did not clearly indicate the topic covered, a large enough sample of the article was read to ascertain its general idea. When more than one topic was included, e.g., methodology and research, an attempt was made to determine the primary substance of the article. In certain instances no principal thesis could be determined, and the article was placed in a miscellaneous category. Book reviews, committee reports, editorials, and similar items that were not considered feature articles were excluded.

A spreadsheet software package was used to enter and analyze the data. Data elements included author name, title of article, volume and number, and year of publication. Data were sorted to identify frequency of publication for specific topics, frequency of publication by individual authors, and trends in topic coverage by decade. …