Academic journal article IUP Journal of Soft Skills

How Effective Are the Persuasive and Other Communication Abilities of MBA Students in India: Implications for Business Communication Courses

Academic journal article IUP Journal of Soft Skills

How Effective Are the Persuasive and Other Communication Abilities of MBA Students in India: Implications for Business Communication Courses

Article excerpt


One of the key learning outcomes of a business communication course is to develop the ability to persuade in various communication contexts. A marketing executive should be able to present a product that persuades the client to buy and this is accomplished through various strategies such as drafting sales promotion letters, writing advertising slogans, preparing promotional campaigns for launching the product in mass communication media and giving business presentations.

Similarly, an annual report not only states facts but also persuades stockholders and the public to have confidence in the company. A proposal not only outlines the services or products a company can provide, but also persuades its readers that this company's proposal is the most advantageous for the customer. In addition, memos not only report opinions and directives, but also persuade their recipients that these opinions are sound and these directives are to be followed (Kallendorf and Kallendorf, 1985).

Therefore, it is significant to understand whether the MBA students who have completed a business communication course consider themselves adequately equipped with certain essential persuasive abilities. The current research in this regard is quite sparse and the present study wishes to explore this question.

Various research studies have emphasized the importance of basic communication skills, namely, effective listening skills, business vocabulary along with effective reading and writing skills for an effective career in management. Language as a soft skill is a very important facet of managerial competency in the emerging business management scenario (McPherson, 1998; Wardrope, 2002; and Robles, 2012).

The aim of a business communication course is to impart effective communication skills that are necessary in the current workplace context. However, a vast disconnect emerges when the course either fails to incorporate the necessary skills or when it fails to address the context of the workplace.

A great body of literature is available in other countries, especially in the USA and the UK, with inquiries into various aspects of this curricular mismatch, and suitable remedies proposed and successfully implemented. In the Indian context too, there is an urgent need to take up this issue for systematic study, given the explosion of business schools on the one hand and the rapidly transforming corporate communication contexts on the other.

Given this milieu, the present research study seeks to identify the lacks in language and persuasive skills using a needs analysis framework through a survey instrument administered in two prominent business schools. The study carries out one of the key aspects of the needs analysis framework called the present situation analysis that deals with the perceptions of students. Essentially needs analysis is an exploratory process conducted before course redesign intervention therefore exploratory statistical methodology is used. The study has identified certain basic language skills and persuasive skills as lacks in the process.

English for Specific Purposes (ESP) is a branch of English Language Teaching (ELT) that addresses the context-based language learning dynamics. A number of recent business communication programs have reported successful implementation of the ESPoriented teaching-learning methodology (Hashimoto, 1992; Zhu and Liao, 2008; Sampath and Zalipour, 2010; and Ates, 2012). The present paper argues for a course redesign approach using the ESP methodology, which places equal focus on contextual communication and on language skills.

One of the major contributions of the study is the development of a structured survey instrument. The other is the fact that it has uncovered and brought to light the crucial issue of intervention in the business communication course, based on the needs analysis framework.

The paper has the following structure: firstly, it discusses the theoretical framework used in the study, followed by a review of the relevant literature and the lacunae in the current studies. …

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