Vous êtes sur la page 1sur 3

Page 1 of 3

DIFFERENCES BETWEEN BUSINESS AND ACADEMIC WRITING


Not talking about big words or complicated, flowery sentences . . . This is not to say that, in academia, the writing one produces should be verbose, passive, intricate, or improvident. Good academic AND good business writing are both clear, concise, and expressive. Two aspects Id like to cover -- for both, borrowing from Howard Beckers Writing for Social Scientists: Audience and the Literature, with a some information about Documenting Sources as part of the discussion of literature.

AUDIENCE Business Co-workers, supervisors, subordinates Academic Professors, classmates, (ideally) journal readers thought pieces: understanding of lit, or your own ideas built on lit. imparting info is also end result, but must place in context dont assume shared values looser, less shared language -- most fields avoid jargon academic writing LONGER??, more INVOLVED -- not long for own sake (or shouldn't be!!) but includes context (lit), certain thought processes, etc., as well result or conclusion -- more to express thoughts than possiblity of right or wrong.

reports, procedures, proposals: explain how something went, how to do something, propose a project.

imparting info is end result

shared values assumed tight shared language, even jargon

business memo, report, etc. where short is best because otherwise no one will read -- so often leave out context, thought process, etc. in favor of result of conclusion -- reader will ususally already know context and process -- more functional, can be wrong (in procedure, etc.).

The Writing Center: Business vs. Academic Writing

Page 2 of 3

WRITING AN EXTENSION OF THINKING Putting Thoughts on Paper Im making this black and white when in fact the diff erences can be rather gray -but in thinking about audience I want to emphasize that want to consider several things . . .

What you are trying to communicate? Who are you trying to communicate it to? Audience is as much a part of what you write as the information, and your academic writing can be improved by considering the differences between business audiences and academic audiences LITERATURE Along with audience, you can strengthen your academic writing by providing a grounding and context by Engaging the Literature. EXAMPLE (going back to audience, engaging the literature is one way of telling your audience -- your professor -- that you understand the concepts being taught and can apply them to your business life as well.) Lit serves as a source of fundamental ideas, of past hypotheses and hunches, a touchstone or grounding for an intellectual community, even a way of showing what camps you belong to in intellectual/theoretical debates. When engaging the literature and building on it with your own ideas, you must Document your sources. This is important for two reasons: So reader can find where you got info from Give credit where credit is due -- let the reader know whose shoulders youre building on

The Writing Center: Business vs. Academic Writing

Page 3 of 3

Shortly after Id been promoted to training officer, the Board of Directors of the bank I worked for fired the president and hired a new president. Several weeks later, he laid off most of upper management, even though some of them had been with the bank since it opened 25 years earlier. At the same time, the president announced that one-third of the remaining employees would be also laid off. I kept my job, but things werent the same. Since there wasnt much training to do, I was shuffled around to whatever position needed filling: receptionist, word processing specialist, teller. I quit shortly after the lay-offs.

The machine metaphor, as described in Morgans Images of Organizations, provides insight into an experience I had as training officer of a small, local bank. Because of poor growth and lack of profits, the Board of Directors chose to replace the president. Seeking to turn the organization into a well-oiled machine, the new executive officer laid off most of upper management, some of whom had been with the bank since it opened 25 year earlier. The new president changed the banks previous family atmosphere of loyalty and responsibility to long -term employees. Instead, he saw these employees as replaceable parts, and so replaced them with new employees whom he expected to be more efficient and effective. Terminating one-third of all bank employees eliminated unnecessary components throughout the machine. Because I had skills that made me an interchangeable part of the banks machine, I was not laid off. I spent months being transferred from receptionist to word processing specialist to teller, only occasionally performing training functions. Being treated as a machine part instead of a person was uncomfortable for me, and I realized that there was little room for personal growth. When the bank operated as a family, my personal and career goals were important to my supervisor. Once the bank became a machine, my personal expectations were unimportant to the efficiency of the organization. I resigned, and went in search of an organization that was less rigid and more people-oriented.

The Writing Center: Business vs. Academic Writing