The Handbook of Business Discourse

The Handbook of Business Discourse

The Handbook of Business Discourse

The Handbook of Business Discourse


The Handbook of Business Discourse is the most comprehensive overview of the field to date. It offers an accessible and authoritative introduction to a range of historical, disciplinary, methodological and cultural perspectives on business discourse and addresses many of the pressing issuesfacing a growing, varied and increasingly international field of research. The collection also illustrates some of the challenges of defining and delimiting a relatively recent and eclectic field of studies, including debates on the very definition of 'business discourse'. Part One includes chapters on the origins, advances and features of business discourse in Europe, North America, Australia and New Zealand. Part Two covers methodological approaches such as mediated communication, corpus linguistics, organisational discourse, multimodality, race and managementcommunication, and rhetorical analysis. Part Three moves on to look at disciplinary perspectives such as sociology, pragmatics, gender studies, intercultural communication, linguistic anthropology and business communication. Part Four looks at cultural perspectives across a range of geographical areas including Spain, Brazil, Japan, Korea, China and Vietnam. The concluding section reflects on future developments in Europe, North America and Asia.


On words and labels

A question that I was asked by some contributors and reviewers during the preparation of this Handbook was how I defined ‘business discourse’. It is pertinent question, to which I think I have more than one answer to offer. The answers may or may not resonate with all the contributors to the Handbook, even though they have generously agreed to write for it.

In so doing they have trusted in a project that is likely to keep the original question ‘What is business discourse?’ alive, while their collective work stands as a token of the vibrancy of this relatively new field of studies.

Defining ‘business discourse’ in a short and exhaustive answer is, I think, next to impossible. A bird’s-eye view of the contents of the Handbook explains why. This volume seeks to chart a new territory of multidisciplinary scholarship where linguistics, communication studies, organisation studies, ethnomethodology, critical studies, sociology, international management etc. would come together under one banner, each to offer its distinct perspective on what it understood ‘business discourse’ to be. For many chapters, the editorial brief stopped at the contributors’ guidelines, in an attempt to give the contributors enough room to present their material in such a way as to accommodate the priorities and distinctive character of the specific discipline or approach. This flexibility has been especially important for the essays in Part Four: Localised Perspectives, where varying degrees of development of the field, historical and geographical peculiarities and the status of the contributors – often writing as representatives of a relatively small academic cohort of researchers – have resulted in a mosaic of unique insights.

The impracticality – worse, the futility – of attempting to impose an a priori understanding of business discourse on such a rich and eclectic collection could have resulted, I believe, in stifling individual creativities in the name of a standard or norm that in fact does not exist even for the editor of the Handbook. If this sounds like an apology for scholarly anarchy, I should hasten to say that there have been attempts to engage with notions of business discourse, in which the editor was also implicated; I will rehearse some of the arguments in the next section. I suspect such endeavours are often motivated by the need to belong to an existing, recognised entity, or to make sure that an entity is created that provides the security of self-identification through self-labelling. There is also a sense of . . .

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