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A qualitative analysis of writing as a focus for developing policy statements on public issues in large petrochemical companies
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Research by Linda Flower, Ann Berthoff, James Stephens, Judith Langer, Arthur Applebee, and other social scientists supports the notion that writing helps individuals shape their ideas. I believe it serves the same function in developing policy in large corporations. For the people responsible for producing speeches and brochures that relate to issues of public concern, writing is more than an exercise in stating the corporate line in acceptable prose. For them, the written word is the focal point for examining a company's position. The act of writing puts ideas on the table for everyone to see. From there, the give-and-take between management and writers often becomes the choice of one word over another, because the final version of that text will be seen by the public as the company's official position. Those speeches and articles may be used for years by reporters, lawmakers, environmentalists, and citizens seeking to comment on the company's actions. This does not mean that writers and editors direct big companies. They are, however, an important part of a process that is often misunderstood, even by those who participate in it. There is a cost for that misunderstanding. Young writers often say in frustration, "My client doesn't know what he wants!" That, however, is just the point. Clients may not know what they want to say, and it is the writer's job to help them find out. Understanding the process will assist writers and clients alike to realize that the process of writing a position helps to form it. In large corporations, company policy is often shaped in the process. This paper is a qualitative analysis of the role of speeches and publications in developing corporate policy. It suggests that writing about issues of public concern can become the focal point for shaping corporate policy. The study is based on interviews with free-lance writers, and with writers, editors, managers, and executives of several major corporations, primarily in energy-related fields. Conclusions are based on what these individuals have said about their experience.
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Includes bibliographical references (leaves 55-60).
Issued also on microfiche from Lange Micrographics.
Cunningham, Richard Lee (2002). A qualitative analysis of writing as a focus for developing policy statements on public issues in large petrochemical companies. Master's thesis, Texas A&M University. Available electronically from
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