Clay Spinuzzi

Clay Spinuzzi
University of Texas at Austin | UT · Rhetoric and Writing

Doctor of Philosophy

About

111
Publications
47,050
Reads
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4,174
Citations
Citations since 2017
21 Research Items
2357 Citations
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Introduction
I'm a professor of rhetoric and writing at The University of Texas at Austin. I've authored four books: Tracing Genres Through Organizations (MIT Press, 2003); Network (Cambridge University Press, 2008); Topsight (Amazon CreateSpace, 2013); and All Edge (University of Chicago Press, 2015).

Publications

Publications (111)
Article
Full-text available
How do start-ups create value through the language of their business pitches? In this article, we investigate that question by identifying the logics of justification they use, traditionally conceptualized as orders of worth. In this study of short written pitches in a 6-month Chilean accelerator program, we describe how we detected logics of justi...
Article
Accelerators are programs that support fledgling ventures with a set curriculum, moving them through a cycle of venture development that culminates in a Demo Day pitch in which the ventures argue for their viability. Yet firms are often involved in multiple programs with conflicting objectives and cycles. No research has addressed such conflicts. T...
Article
Full-text available
Background: After a six-month training program in the Chilean public accelerator Start-Up Chile, entrepreneurs are asked to update a short pitch they wrote in the submission stage to appear in the program's online portfolio. Literature review: We reviewed relevant literature related to the pitch as well as research aiming to track changes within...
Article
In “From Mediated Actions To Heterogenous Coalitions: Four Generations of Activity-Theoretical Studies of Work and Learning,” Engeström and Sannino discuss the fourth generation of activity theory as involving heterogeneous coalitions that are involved in intertwined learning cycles. They offer Change Laboratory interventions as a way to properly a...
Article
bold xmlns:mml="http://www.w3.org/1998/Math/MathML" xmlns:xlink="http://www.w3.org/1999/xlink">Background: Early-stage accelerator programs teach new entrepreneurs how to identify and exploit venture opportunities. In doing so, they implicitly teach these new entrepreneurs how to develop and iterate claims. But since this function of teaching pers...
Article
This study examined how three successful entrepreneurs/investors assessed the visual rhetoric of actual pitch decks from novice entrepreneurs. We compare their evaluations to the result of a heuristic for assessing visual rhetoric, Color CRAYONTIP. While the pitch deck is recognized as a key artifact in entrepreneurship, no studies have specificall...
Article
Full-text available
In the 1980s, Yrjö Engeström took up Leontiev’s activity theory, extending and modifying it extensively to apply it to learning in organizations. Whereas the work of Vygotsky and Leontiev represented a cultural psychology, this “third-generation” activity theory (3GAT) was arguably closer to an organizational sociology. This organizational sociolog...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Activity theory in its “third generation” (3GAT) has been used extensively to analyze case studies in professional communication and related fields such as information systems, workforce education, and computer-supported cooperative work. Yet 3GAT has known limits, and these limits are making it difficult to model, assess, and make recommendations...
Article
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In this qualitative study, the authors apply Callon’s sociology of translation to examine how new technology entrepreneurs enact material arguments that involve the first two moments of translation—problematization (defining a market problem) and interessement (defining a market and the firm’s relationship to it)—which in turn are represented in a...
Article
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Coworking spaces are shared working environments in which independent knowledge workers gather. Coworking is consistently described in terms of community and collaboration—yet these terms are defined inconsistently in the coworking literature. This study reviews the literature on coworking to better examine how community relates to collaboration. T...
Article
Content marketing involves creating content in genres that readers find useful. these genres individually do not persuade their readers to buy a given product, and may not even mention the product or service being marketed. but collectively, they are designed to lead their readers to a purchase decision. that is, they sell-without-selling. we exami...
Article
Successful value propositions can be productively analyzed as emergent cocreated objects: co-created at the intersection of multiple activities with varying interests and cycles, and thus incrementally revised to address cross-activity tensions. These objects are also represented across multiple genres; entrepreneurs must keep these different repre...
Article
The papers in this special section address effective communication styles for entrepreneurs.
Conference Paper
Full-text available
This paper addresses a less-investigated issue of innovations: entrepreneurship communication. Business and marketing studies demonstrate that new product development processes do not succeed on good technical invention alone. To succeed, the invention must be appropriately communicated to a market and iterated through dialogue with potential stake...
Article
Full-text available
K6015, a South Korean firm seeking to commercialize its magnet technology in the US market, entered a technology commercialization training program structured as a competition. Through this program, K6015 (and others in the program) used several genres to progressively interest different sets of stakeholders. To understand how K6015 applied these g...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Technology innovators must pitch their technology and its business value to potential buyers, partners, and distributors: to make claims that will create interest in the appropriate audiences and offer evidence that those audiences recognize as credible and applicable. Such pitches typically involve a spoken presentation and a slide deck, both of w...
Chapter
This chapter illustrates how work has changed over the past 40 years, as organizations that were once institutional bureaucracies began to form institutional adhocracies, and later fragmented into all-edge adhocracies: cross-functional teams of specialists that organize around projects rather than departments. The chapter introduces basic concepts...
Chapter
Up to this point, the book has discussed all-edge adhocracies as they form among relatively independent workers. But adhocracies can form wherever work is organized within networks and around projects—including hierarchies with organizational charts and payrolls. Although bureaucratic hierarchies and adhocracies are very different forms of organiza...
Chapter
Specialists, such as the nonemployer firms and subcontractors discussed in Chapter 3, can increasingly do their work with just a laptop, a mobile phone, and a broadband Internet connection. And that means they can work anywhere: home, a park, a coffee shop, a restaurant. But these potential workplaces don’t meet a variety of needs, including networ...
Chapter
Although adhocracies can explain some of the things in Chapter 7, they can’t explain everything. That’s because the internet marketing firm, like most organizations, is a hybrid of different forms of organization. These different forms can work together, but they are often in tension with one another, causing frictions in the organization. In this...
Chapter
This case study of nonemployer firms illustrates the characteristics of all-edge adhocracies. These one- to two-person firms must assemble a temporary team of subcontractors to tackle each job, manage and coordinate them, and stage-manage them so that the subcontractors don’t undermine the firm’s performance. And they have to do all of this with ve...
Chapter
How do all-edge adhocracies integrate their work across organizations, specialties, and locations? How do they make this work coherent and productive? The cases in this book have illustrated three ways that all-edge adhocracies do this, three integrations that provide these kinetic organizations with the stability they need in order to get anything...
Chapter
The way we work is changing because new information and communication technologies (ICTs) provide new ways to communicate, coordinate, and collaborate. This introductory chapter discusses these changes and why they matter. It provides a brief historical sketch of how ICTs have changed our work, then goes into some depth about how digital ICTs in pa...
Chapter
In Chapter 5, we saw that coworking sites developed to support the new needs of all-edge adhocracies. But how are these coworking sites structured, how do they interact, and how do they develop? What characterizes an adhocratic activity? To understand the dynamic structure of all-edge adhocracies, we need a theory of human activity. This chapter in...
Chapter
This chapter picks up where Chapter 3 left off, discussing what we know about the foundation underlying all-edge adhocracies: organizational networks. In this chapter, I discuss what organizational networks are, what characteristics they share, how they work, and why they are beginning to flourish. Based on what we learn here, we take a second look...
Article
Full-text available
Professional writing scholars have often turned to activity theory (AT) as a rich framework for describing and theorizing human activity. But AT-based studies typically emphasize the uniqueness of activities rather than examining how certain types of activities share configurations. Consequently, these analyses often miss the chance to examine acti...
Article
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Research problem: The question: How Korean entrepreneurs in an entrepreneurship program revised their slide decks for their presentations (“pitches”) in response to professional communication genres representing feedback from potential stakeholders in their target markets is examined. Research questions: As entrepreneurs learn to pitch ideas to unf...
Article
Nonemployer firms—firms with no employees—present themselves as larger, more stable firms to take on clients’ projects. They then achieve these projects by recruiting subcontractors, guiding subcontractors’ interactions with clients, and coordinating subcontractors to protect their team performance for the client. Using fourth-generation activity t...
Conference Paper
This paper evaluates the features and benefits of a new kind of writing tool -- activity streams -- for use by collaborative writing teams engaged in distributed work. Activity streams are continuously updated, shared records of project activity that include explicit references to project participants, shared objects, and actions performed over tim...
Article
Full-text available
Mobile professionals can choose to work in offices, executive suites, home offices, or other spaces. But some have instead chosen to work at coworking spaces: open-plan office environments in which they work alongside other unaffiliated professionals for a fee of approximately $250 a month. But what service are they actually purchasing with that mo...
Article
Full-text available
In 1997, I worked with a team to conduct my first qualitative research project, a study of how software developers used code libraries when developing a common codebase (McLellan et al. 1998; Spinuzzi 2001). In particular, I was interested in how developers used inline comments to understand their own and others' code. At two sites, the developers...
Article
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In our studies in Europe and the US, we have seen three interrelat-ed trends in professional writing: towards integrated writers, integrated writing, and the integration of distributed work. We believe that these three trends will accelerate and broaden throughout the industrialized world due to developments in knowledge work and digital technolo-g...
Article
Third-generation activity theory (3GAT) has become a popular theoretical and methodological framework for writing studies, particularly in technical communication. 3GAT involves identifying an object, a material or problem that is cyclically transformed by collective activity. The object is the linchpin of analysis in the empirical case. Yet the no...
Article
At a search marketing company, each search engine optimization (SEO) specialist writes up to 10 to 12 complex 20-page monthly reports in the first ten business days of each month. These SEO specialists do not consider themselves to be writers, yet they generate these structurally and rhetorically complex reports as a matter of course, while negotia...
Conference Paper
This workshop explores an approach to creating meaningful accounts of knowledge work in organizations. The approach includes data collection, analysis, and visualization techniques.
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Extending our ongoing investigation into the communicative practices of knowledge work, we have made recent advances on three different fronts: methodological framing, investigation of work practices and potential support tools, and application development. Each of these advances is considered in this experience report, which concludes with a brief...
Article
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This essay argues for the value of an ecological metaphor in conceptualizing, designing, and enacting research in writing studies. Such a metaphor conceives of activities, actors, situations, and phenomena as interdependent, diverse, and fused through feedback. This ecological orientation invites composition scholars to research rhetorically: to de...
Article
How does a telecommunications company function when its right hand often doesn't know what its left hand is doing? How do rapidly expanding, interdisciplinary organizations hold together and perform their knowledge work? In this book, Clay Spinuzzi draws on two warring theories of work activity - activity theory and actor-network theory - to examin...
Conference Paper
Approaches to researching and understanding knowledge work in contemporary organizations have proliferated during the last decade. Interest in this area has been particularly charged by the emergence of knowledge management as a concern for administrators and managers. One of the challenges addressed by researchers working in this area is construct...
Conference Paper
In this case study, I describe an open system: a public archive of work done at the Computer Writing and Research Lab at the University of Texas at Austin. The CWRL's website has long been an important resource for computers and writing scholarship, but in 2004, it faced new challenges. On one hand, the site had to conform to new accessibility guid...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
This paper reports on a pilot study of three proposal writers conducted by the authors during late Fall 2005 and Spring 2006. In this report we discuss how well the data collection, data analysis, and data visualization methods served the interests of our project and of the participants, along with implications for future research. Among the method...
Article
In this introduction, I review the topic of the special issue, distributed work: coordinative, polycontextual, cross-disciplinary work that splices together divergent work activities (separated by time, space, organizations, and objectives) and that enables the transformations of information and texts that characterize such work. After reviewing th...
Conference Paper
The ethical conduct of research is a cornerstone of modern scientific research. Computer science and the discipline's technological artifacts touch nearly every aspect of modern life, and computer scientists must conduct and report their research in ...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Digital environments enable distributed work. Though they pose challenges for research, they also provide affordances for addressing these difficulties including opportunities to capture and visualize writing activity in significant detail. This paper surveys sources of visualizations of writing processes and practices, focusing on attempts to deal...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Studies of knowledge work tend to take one of two research foci: either on communication (the transactional, intersubjective exchange of information, thoughts, writing, or speech among participants, performed in serial chains) or mediation (the nonsequential, implicit aspects of artifacts that serve to guide and constrain workers' activities). In t...
Conference Paper
Formal accounts of how proposals are prepared in the contemporary workplace are scarce. In particular, researchers have published very few reports based on structured studies of proposal writing. This paper offers an overview of the current state of our knowledge about proposal writing in the contemporary workplace. Drawing upon data from a case st...
Article
Knowledge work is work in which the primary product is information that is continually interpreted and circulated across organizationally boundaries. This paper examines the teaching practices necessary in a climate of knowledge work.
Article
Research techniques are sometimes seen as the atoms or essential building blocks of research projects: invariant, inviolable steps that are applied the same way, no matter what the socioeconomic characteristics of the environments in which they are deployed. That is, they are often seen as arhetorical, and rhetorical choice and agency play a role o...
Article
Full-text available
Technical communicators have lately become interested in participatory design as a way to structure and guide their research and development efforts, particularly in online media. But attempts to use participatory design - in technical communication and elsewhere - have been hampered because participatory design has typically been seen as an orient...
Conference Paper
Genre theorists agree that genres work together in assemblages. But what is the nature of these assemblages? In this paper I describe four frameworks that have been used to describe assemblages of genres: genre sets, genre systems, genre repertoires, and genre ecologies. At first glance, they seem to be interchangeable, but there are definite and s...
Conference Paper
Observational research has become an increasingly important tool in the technical communicator's toolkit as a way of analyzing audiences, discovering problems with current documentation systems, and envisioning alternate ways to design information. Whether it is used informally, in structured design methods, or in academic workplace studies, observ...
Conference Paper
How does knowledge circulate in complex, interdisciplinary organizations? How can we support that circulation of knowledge through documentation, information systems, and information design? Technical communicators have become interested in these questions lately, particularly with the recent turn to social, cultural, and interpretive theoretical f...
Article
Academic web sites are often “brochureware”: monologic sites that primarily provide information about an academic unit, with strongly limited feedback or contributions from those who are represented by the site. In such sites, divergent ideas and viewpoints are typically papered over, because the means of producing such pages tend to be concentrate...
Conference Paper
How does knowledge circulate in complex, interdisciplinary organizations? How can we support that circulation of knowledge through documentation, information systems, and information design? Technical communicators have become interested in these questions lately, particularly with the recent turn to social, cultural, and interpretive theoretical f...
Conference Paper
Technical communicators have become increasingly interested in how to "open up" the documentation process - to encourage workers to participate in developing documentation that closely fits their needs. This goal has led technical communicators to engage in usability testing, user-centered design approaches, and, more recently, open source document...
Conference Paper
The genre ecology framework is an analytical framework for studying how people use multiple artifacts - such as documentation, interfaces, and annotations - to mediate their work activities. Unlike other analytical frameworks, the genre ecology framework has been developed particularly for technical communication research, particularly in its empha...
Conference Paper
In the early 1980s, Scandinavian software designers who sought to make systems design more participatory and democratic turned to prototyping. The "Scandinavian challenge" of making computers more democratic inspired others who became interested in user-centered design; information designers on both sides of the Atlantic began to employ prototyping...
Article
Technical communicators have recently become interested in user-centered design (UCD) for designing and evaluating technical genres. Yet, a critical examination of the field methods of UCD suggests that they suffer from unintegrated scope: an undesirably limiting focus on a particular level of scope (either the macroscopic level of human activity o...
Conference Paper
Field research in software documentation has a tradition of investigating how artifacts (from documentation to online help to interfaces to mundane equipment such as Post-It? notes) mediate or enable workers to perform complex tasks (see for instance [29]). Understanding artifacts and mediation can be key to understanding how well documentation sup...
Article
Although usability testing and research have become critical tasks for technical communicators in the workplace, little discussion in technical communication focuses on teaching usability in technical communication programs. This article asserts that technical communication programs are particularly well positioned to adopt usability testing and re...
Article
The utility of metaphor as a visual–rhetorical design framework has diminished dramatically, and continues to erode. Metaphor has two important limitations as it is commonly applied in interface design: (a) metaphors are indexical, pointing to physical artifacts that they represent, and (b) metaphors are static, that is, unwavering in their indexic...
Conference Paper
Field research in software documentation has a tradition of investigating how artifacts mediate or enable workers to perform complex tasks. Understanding artifacts and mediation can be key to understanding how well documentation supports work, and how one might design information to fit work patterns. As such, the field of technical communication h...
Article
Technical communicators have longed turned to audience, purpose, and context as they analyze situations. But Mirel's article demonstrates that audience-purpose-context is too weak a framework to handle the job of detailed sociopolitical analysis: not only is it inadequate for analyzing the needs of end users, it is also inadequate for analyzing sit...
Article
Arguing that current approaches to understanding and constructing computer documentation are based on the flawed assumption that documentation works as a closed system, the authors present an alternative way of thinking about the texts that make computer technologies usable for people. Using two historical case studies, the authors describe how a g...
Conference Paper
Researchers today are increasingly attempting to understand the relationship between technology and work through field methods. Surveying the field methods commonly used by researchers to observe such interactions, I critically discuss the assumptions underpinning three methods (ethnography, participatory design and contextual inquiry) and the stre...

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