Narrative: An approach to deciphering professional communication challenges in three professional venues

Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

David Roberts


This dissertation demonstrates the effectiveness of using narratives--stories to decipher current communications challenges within professional venues. The following three articles chronicle the construction of two organizations' narratives, identify a current professional communication challenge, introduce a solution to the identified challenge, and illustrate how the narrative approach can be applied in practice and pedagogy. Specifically, the first article presents a public administrator's narrative, which illustrates his struggle to persuade a skeptical audience to accept a controversial message. By examining the participant's narrative, the researcher and participant chose a successful solution which integrated classical rhetorical persuasive methods (ethos, pathos, logos). The primary narrative of the second article describes a federal agency's concern regarding adversarial behavior between two parties that was impeding compliance with a law. In an effort to facilitate communication between the two parties, an entry-level technical writer was assigned to revise the text of a poster. After reviewing the participant's organizational narrative, the technical writer eventually used Grice's cooperative principle to address the challenge, which led to the use of these principles in the revision of future posters and fact sheets. The third article examines the historical narrative of the plain language movement and identifies a gap between the plain language requirements of workplaces and the lack of plain language instruction in business communication courses. In an effort to reduce that gap, this article gathers plain language resources and assignments to assist educators in the integration of plain language principles into business communication curr1icula. Ultimately, this dissertation illustrates how narratives were constructed in three different situations to address current communication challenges. By highlighting the ways narratives can be constructed as to address communication challenges in professional venues, research, and classrooms, this dissertation argues that narratives can be a useful and effective approach for addressing challenges in the discipline of rhetoric and professional communication.



Copyright Owner

Rachelle R. Greer



Date Available


File Size

113 pages