From Words to Integers and Beyond in Corporate Life

From Words to Integers and Beyond in Corporate Life

Boris Kabanoff (Queensland University of Technology, Australia) and Mahani Hamdan (Universiti Brunei Darussalam, Brunei)
Copyright: © 2014 |Pages: 18
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-4999-6.ch019
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Abstract

Drawing upon the chapters from this volume for exemplars, this chapter provides a critical appreciation of Computer-Aided Text Analysis (CATA), a method that analyses texts that occur naturally or are evoked by the researcher, where the underlying approach is usually positivist in nature and the focus is on studying the presence of certain concepts that are inductively or deductively derived, with software playing a key role in identifying and quantifying the presence of concepts in text. The first section considers some of the major characteristics and differences in CATA approaches to issues such as latent vs.manifest content and the interpretation of the content of communications from either a tone or attention perspective. The second considers enduring, widely accepted assumptions about CATA that centre upon the existence of intimate associations between words and underlying psychological constructs, and between word frequencies and the importance or centrality of constructs in cognitive processes. The final section considers enduring challenges and opportunities including the complex and vexed issues of impression management and textual context. The authors conclude that in relation to the study of the language of corporate life, CATA can be viewed as a glass half-full rather than half-empty.
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Introduction

Language is both a lock and a key (Chinese poet Yan Zhen quoted in Uren, “The People’s Poet”, 2013, p. 28.)

Poets have a licence to couch great truths in succinct, emotionally powerful, and perhaps slightly mysterious and ambiguous ways. On the other hand, it is the task of academics to explore such truths intellectually, in depth and detail, identifying the key constructs and their underlying relations and structures, hopefully without impairing the essential truth. So it could be said that in January 2013, around 60 academics gathered at the University of Texas, Austin under the benign and encouraging eye of their own muse, Professor Rod Hart, to play their role in exploring and explaining the underlying truth of Yan Zhen’s words.

The goals of this chapter are quite broad. Rod was explicit and yet also somewhat Delphic in his expectations and aspirations for the chapter. Even though DICTION was a key analytic tool in most chapters, this chapter was not to be about DICTION per se, or simply a critique of the individual chapters forming this section of the book. Rather DICTION and these studies, as well as some others that got our attention, were to be more a launching pad for observations on what they revealed about the current state of understanding and research into the language of institutions, as well as some ‘adventurous’, but not too outlandish reflections on future challenges and opportunities.

So the bulk of our chapter is organised under three, roughly descriptive headings: The Launchpad: An Initial Appreciation, Enduring Assumptions, and Enduring Challenges and New Frontiers. The next section therefore offers an overall appreciation of some of the key characteristics of these chapters as a whole, that is, it is a bit of a reconnaissance of the launch pad, and provides some guidance to the launch trajectory for subsequent sections .

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