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Narrative is not enough: The role of "real and living doubt" in entrepreneurship communication

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Despite growing academic interest in social entrepreneurship, a critical challenge facing social ventures has yet to receive attention: how do social entrepreneurs communicate with their diverse groups of stakeholders? This topic is examined using an exploratory, partially-inductive study consisting of semi-structured interviews, ethnographic observation, and a critical review of the practitioner literature. The result is a framework explaining the role played by narratives and emotion in social entrepreneurship communication. The findings contribute to work on organizational narrative theory, new venture communication strategies, stakeholder evaluations of firms, and the marketing and entrepreneurship interface. Moreover, the study produces several practical implications for social entrepreneurs.
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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 unfamiliar markets, how do they revise their slide decks for their pitches when interacting with other professional communication genres that represent the concerns of market stakeholders? Specifically, what changes do entrepreneurs make to the claims, evidence, and complexity of arguments in their pitches? Literature review: The professional communication literature demonstrates that the revision process tends to take place in documentation cycles where documents are set in interaction with each other. Yet such revision processes are not studied in detail in existing studies of entrepreneurial pitches in marketing and technology commercialization. Methodology: In this exploratory qualitative study, researchers textually analyzed 14 sets of five related document genres in the archives of an entrepreneurship program. These genres represented a full cycle of activity: application to the program, initial pitches, initial feedback from program personnel, detailed feedback from representative stakeholders in the target market, and revised pitches. Interviews and surveys of program personnel further contextualize the data. Results and conclusions: Entrepreneurs revised their claims and evidence based on their dialogue with their target market. Some of the entrepreneurs altered their slides to make more complex arguments rebutting stakeholders' concerns. These findings suggest that entrepreneurs engage in dialogue with their target markets, but their engagement tends to be guided by tacit, situated experience rather than through an explicit, systematized approach.
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Though professional communication theorists typically borrow from other disciplines (linguistics, rhetoric, cognitive or social psychology, etc.) we might develop a freestanding theory of information design, related perhaps to other disciplines, but still independent, in the way that organic chemistry is a freestanding discipline separate in many ways from general chemistry. I propose a base for such a theory in C.S. Peirce's general model of inquiry (1877). Useful information is shaped by a definitive question (topic) which moves an audience to search information for answers. Professional communication theory can be independently driven by the kinds of questions it seeks answers to.
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Entrepreneurship is important and can be a good career opportunity for engineering students. One importance of entrepreneurship is the maturation of a variety of segments of information and communication technologies. Continued technological advance is essential but the most important and challenging task is identifying new applications. An engineering education can encourage entrepreneurship by instilling a social conscience in students, a sense that the ultimate goal and reward of engineering is applying scientific principles to the betterment of the society, but also awareness that misguided efforts can do harm. As such, educators can help by providing project experiences where students practice serving a need for others. Entrepreneurship entails hardships and risks. Entrepreneurship itself is only a starting point, technology is part of the challenge but there are still a lot of issues to be dealt with including financing the venture.
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This article argues that social entrepreneurship has not yet been adequately defined even though it is increasingly being used in social change/development practice. Muhammad Yunus, creator of the Grameen Bank and microlending, and Bill Drayton, founder of the global change agency Ashoka, have practiced social change through social entrepreneurship for more than 30 years. Increasingly, the development community has been adopting many of its practices. The basic process of social entrepreneurship involves: defining a social goal for the solution of a serious problem; innovation in solving the problem; ability to expand the organization to serve large numbers of people (scaling up); focusing on the social bottom line with empirical evidence (impact evaluation). Three cases are briefly reviewed to illustrate this process. Finally the article examines how these practices might help Communication for Development (C4D) to better adapt its own practices in achieving real change with people.
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Despite growing academic interest in social enterprises, a critical challenge facing such organizations has yet to receive attention: how do social enterprise managers communicate with their diverse groups of stakeholders? This topic is examined using an exploratory, partially-inductive design consisting of semi-structured interviews, ethnographic observation, and a critical review of the practitioner literature. The result is a framework explaining the role played by narratives and emotion in social enterprise communication. The findings contribute to work on managerial narrative theory, organizational communication, and stakeholder evaluations of firms and have several practical implications for the managers of social enterprises.
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Thematic Roles and Grammatical ArgumentsComplex Thematic StructuresGrain and the Locus of Thematic RepresentationDerivations by Syntactic Projection
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Technical writers, for the most part, write user documentation of some kind. However, they also have skills that might enable them to also serve as user-advocates on product development teams and testers of prototype systems. In the computer hardware and software industry, they have the additional skills needed to develop online help tools, to design user interfaces, and to write system and error messages (J. Fisher, 1998). Fisher's recent survey of (Australian) technical communicators showed that some are employed in such tasks, but not widely so. She reports, for instance, that only 38% were consulted by developers about error messages, only 32% actually wrote error messages, and only 13% reported that they had some role in system testing (J. Fisher, 1998). A question emerges out of such results: is there really any necessary and supportive connection between the process of explaining a product to a user and the original process of developing that product? As technical writers looking to expand our roles [and salaries], we would like to say yes. But, in fairness, we have to admit our bias. We need to check such biases against other, independent evidence. The article interfaces this question with a parallel question in the philosophy of science: is there any connection between experimental test results used to “sell” a theory to a scientific audience and the original process of developing that theory?
Unified Theory of Information Design
  • N Amare
  • A Manning
N. Amare and A. Manning, Unified Theory of Information Design, Amityville, NY: Baywood, 2013.
Thematic relations in syntax in The Handbook of Contemporary Syntactic Theory
  • J Gruber
J. Gruber, "Thematic relations in syntax," in The Handbook of Contemporary Syntactic Theory, M. Baltin, M. and C. Collins, Eds., Oxford, MS: Blackwell, 2001, pp. 257-288.