Technical communication in the self-structuring organization



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Texas Tech University


Technical communicators have historically been viewed as designers and producers of paper documents in the traditional business setting. With the growing use of computers by individuals and businesses, technical communicators continue their paper document work but have migrated into the design and production of Web sites and information documents for use on the Internet. Even with this expansion of expertise and the growing demand for communication skills in corporations, technical communicators are not represented at the top levels of business management.

This dissertation explores the potential for technical communicators to move to the corporate executive suite by serving as the central hub of communication in small self-forming Internet base organizations with the potential to become independent economic entities. By examining the contributions of one technical communicator to a seed stage start up project, it is hoped that continued research into activities and opportunities that will elevate the role of the technical communicator in corporate structures will be realized.

The organization used as the basis for the study was developed through the interaction of several independent groups with differing organizational missions. The Texas Tech/K-12 Instructional Partnership for Schools (TIPS) was formed when the University Writing Center at Texas Tech University joined forces with Texas Region XV Education Service Center and public schools selected for the project. The project was developed to deliver Internet based, just-in-time writing instruction assistance from university trained writing tutors to 4th and 8th grade students in predominantly rural Region XV public schools. The goal of the project was to assist the public school teachers in preparing their students for the state mandated Texas Assessment of Academic Skills.

Autopoietic theory and its association with knowledge management, information management, and self-forming organizations informs the dissertation as it assesses the management contribution of the technical communicator who served as the central information hub of the project. The contribution of technical communication skills and rhetorical training led to the technical communicator being vital to the evolution of the university based organization to a startup company with the technical communicator slated to be the chief operations officer.