The search for ways of meeting the world-wide pressure for the optimisation of the quality and profitability of production processes motivates a growing interest in companies in factors that influence the quality of communicative processes even in minute ways. The most important aspects here are the communicative parts in the production process – including marketing, customer services and business-to-business components. That products can ultimately be labelled the results of communicative processes has long been the starting point in e.g. information technology. However, the qualitative and local aspect of communicative processes has only recently become important. This creates an interesting dynamic.
The investigation of communication in organisations is – both nationally and internationally – one of the most generative fields of interdisciplinary sociological research. The reason for this is that it combines economic and sociological theory of organisation, applied IT, linguistic and communicative discourse analysis and socio-pragmatic linguistics in an innovative and practically relevant forum for discussion. Thus, young prominent theories in the field of organisational research (such as Organisational Discourse, Organisational Symbolism, Organisational Cognition, Workplace Studies, Studies of Work) emphasise the importance of linguistic and communicative analyses with regard to the comprehension and structuring of organisations.
A convergence of interests becomes first of all apparent in that the empirical studies of linguistic origin oriented towards linguistic phenomena can be seen as a method of concretisation as well as developing new theories in organisational research. Conversely, organisational-theoretic ideas can point out specific problems in the context of organisational fields of activity, problems that until now have been neglected within the general study of communicative linguistics. It is therefore very desirable that Applied Linguistics does more research in this interdisciplinary field.
The following questions, which are asked in the context of communication in companies and organisations outline the aims of the domain of knowledge Companies and Organisations:
- How can communicative processes be made efficient and how can they be used as ad hoc components of organisational change?
- In how far can procedures that are used for the creation of agreement within the company be helpful for the everyday perspective of the addressees and what lasting effects can such procedures have on the integration of organisations?
- What new eco-communicative conditions arise through the use of technology and in what way do qualitative factors need to be taken into account?
- What kinds of communicative procedures, mechanisms and concepts exist in organisational discourses (information value concepts, distributional hierarchies, competence) and how are they communicated and realised?
- In what forms is communicative knowledge (concerning processes) stored and how can it be applied in a directed manner?
- Which are the semiotic instruments used to construct collective patterns of orientation in organisational communication in different cultural contexts?
- Do the advantages of a greater coverage balance out the advantages of local identities in (multi)lingual processes in everyday business life?
The present domain of knowledge is based on constructivist paradigms as well as on pragmatic, social-scientific and communicational linguistic work with written and oral interactional contexts in companies and organisations. It is important to continue with these and intensify two strands: the interdisciplinary conceptional base of communication in organisations and the strong basing of Applied Linguistics in reality, which is helpful in getting public support.