Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Gregory D. Wilson


This dissertation explores how managers and leaders build consensus in the workplace through creating rhetorical myths. A three-year long ethnographic study of Iowa State University's Printing Services as it went through a change to its central print management system reveals a concentrated effort by leadership to create and maintain a rhetorical myth. This dissertation defines the three main elements of rhetorical myth: chronographia (or an interpretation of history), epideictic prediction (defining an action for the present by assigning praise and blame to the past and the future), and communal markers (using concepts of Burkean identification and rhetorically-defined boundary objects to create a unified community). It also documents the three stages of myth-building: Creation, Acceptance, and Re-creation. Through examples and discussion from meeting observations and interviews, this study shows how the rhetorical myth at Printing Services was created and accepted over several months and then re-created in response to missed deadlines and frustrated expectations. The dissertation concludes with a forecast of future directions to expand the study of rhetorical myth in workplace settings.

Copyright Owner

Jacob D. Rawlins



File Format


File Size

137 pages