Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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"Was That My Misunderstanding?":  Managing Miscommunication and  Problematic Talk at Work

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posted on 2021-11-10, 10:25 authored by Stubbe, Maria

Where workplace communication is ineffective or problematic there will often be negative outcomes for individuals, teams or organisations as a whole. This thesis examines these issues using data from a variety of New Zealand workplaces, including most importantly an in depth case study of problematic communication in a multicultural factory team. The thesis provides an illustrative analysis of the communication issues that typically arise in these workplaces and the discursive strategies used to manage miscommunication and problematic talk, as well as exploring some of the analytic and theoretical issues which emerge when we attempt to identify instances of miscommunication and diagnose how they came about. The practical implications for workplaces are also discussed. After evaluating previous approaches, the author proposes a comprehensive working model for analysing miscommunication or problematic discourse in workplace interaction which is based on a flexible multi-layered theoretical and methodological framework. The analytic approach taken is to apply the tools of sociolinguistic discourse analysis to data from actual interactions along with associated ethnographic information, in conjunction with a critical analysis of organisational communication practices and processes as seen from a community of practice perspective. A multi-dimensional intertextual approach such as this allows analysis of miscommunication and problematic talk at a number of different levels in order to relate what is happening sequentially and 'on-line' during particular interactions or sequences of interaction to factors such as social identity, group membership, team culture and other aspects of the wider communicative and socio-cultural context.


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Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

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Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Doctoral Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of Linguistics and Applied Language Studies


Wallace, Derek; Nation, Paul