Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Rebecca E. Burnett

Second Advisor

David L. Wallace


International communication is often examined through the lens of miscommunication and grounded in the simplistic notion that effective international communication requires learning culture-wide rules. Culture-wide generalizations, however, don't work beyond the most elementary level. In fact, international communication is often characterized by understanding rather than miscommunication---knowledge sharing that may be influenced by interlocutors having similar knowledge and common purposes;Here I explore the question of what contributes to the ability of technical experts from different cultures to communicate with each other. I analyzed transcripts of face-to-face meetings between a Japanese Ministry of Agriculture official, Tatsuya Go, and six Iowa farmers. These meetings focused on shared technical information about livestock production and marketing. Contextual factors such as shared technical background and common purposes played an important role in my analysis;In response to my first question---What characterizes knowledge sharing in agreement episodes?---I found that (a) knowledge sharing may characterize some international technical discourse; (b) Tatsuya Go initiated more disagreements than new topics; (c) topics fell into distinct categories: agricultural technology, agricultural policy and consumer preferences, combination of these two categories, and off-topic; (d) requests for information and elaboration were crucial to knowledge sharing;In response to my second question---What is the nature of the disagreements found in the transcripts?---I found that (a) Tatsuya Go initiated 22 (79%) of the disagreements, farmers initiated 5 (18%), and the researcher initiated one (4%); (b) Tatsuya Go initiated more disagreements than new topics; (c) topics in disagreement episodes fell into the same categories as in the agreement episodes---though in different percentages; and (d) 19 (76%) of disagreements were with actual interlocutors and 6 (24%) with fictive interlocutors;In response to my third question---How are disagreements negotiated?---I found that interlocutors used elaboration and requests for information to negotiate meaning. In response to my fourth question---What is the outcome of the negotiation of disagreements about controversial technical knowledge?---I found that shared knowledge can be an outcome of disagreement;In general, these findings challenge current literature about how knowledge is shared, how disagreements are negotiated, and how Japanese interlocutors engage in conflict.



Digital Repository @ Iowa State University,

Copyright Owner

Lee Stanley Tesdell



Proquest ID


File Format


File Size

370 pages