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Professional Communication Conference (IPCC), 2012 IEEE International

Date 8-10 Oct. 2012

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Displaying Results 1 - 25 of 65
  • The CDA app: Conceptualizing a digital/cultural intervention in Critical Research Practices

    Page(s): 1 - 4
    Save to Project icon | Request Permissions | Click to expandQuick Abstract | PDF file iconPDF (194 KB) |  | HTML iconHTML  

    This paper discusses a conceptual design for an application that introduces a metacognitive aspect to critical discourse analysis, capturing key points at which critical deliberation occurs in the research process so that researchers can reflect on those moments as they prepare the data write-up. The application is intended for use by practitioners of qualitative data analysis; however, the author also considers the pedagogical potential for the application. The purpose of this paper is to explore the notion of a productive intervention in the research process that captures the complexities inherent in the research process that are not represented in the final write-up of data. View full abstract»

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  • What does professional communication research have to do with social justice? Intersections and sources of resistance

    Page(s): 1 - 13
    Save to Project icon | Request Permissions | Click to expandQuick Abstract | PDF file iconPDF (366 KB) |  | HTML iconHTML  

    A brief review of literature indicates that professional communication scholars have had a complex, veiled relation with social justice. It is important to better understand the origins of that relation. After briefly contrasting the degree to which social justice has been explicitly integrated in professional communication and three related disciplines, this paper describes potential sources of resistance to incorporating social justice constructs into professional communication research. In professional communication, these sources of resistance are associated with ideologies that circulate within engineering, scientific, and technical contexts: the apolitical myth, ingroup bias, and technical-social dualism. In addition to exploring those three reasons why professional communication researchers generally avoid foregrounding social justice as an explicit component of their research, the paper also considers deviations from that norm by describing the work of pioneers who are integrating social justice in professional communication research. The implications of these pioneers will be discussed. View full abstract»

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  • Emulating field research in the usability lab: Lessons learned from stage design

    Page(s): 1 - 4
    Save to Project icon | Request Permissions | Click to expandQuick Abstract | PDF file iconPDF (267 KB) |  | HTML iconHTML  

    This case history describes a study that emulated field research in the usability laboratory, a methodology for gaining some benefits of ethnography when it is not practical to visit users' environments. We used stage design techniques to create three “environments”: home, office, and restaurant. In these environments, we learned some contextual information despite the controlled setting. View full abstract»

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  • DHShare: Facilitating student research differently in the digital age

    Page(s): 1 - 5
    Save to Project icon | Request Permissions | Click to expandQuick Abstract | PDF file iconPDF (259 KB) |  | HTML iconHTML  

    The author argues that shifts in models of research, alongside vast changes in information accessibility, warrant reconsiderations about how we teach students to do research. Several scholars have discussed how technology and the internet impact the way students think on fundamental levels. The author presents a way to facilitate student research differently amidst these changes through DHShare, a scholarly and pedagogical resource for sharing, organizing, and searching link sources about copyright, and for discussing how these sources can be used in the classroom. The author will introduce the project, present the design process for building DHShare, and explore larger implications in relation to research. View full abstract»

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  • Aesthetic concepts for educational tools and materials

    Page(s): 1 - 2
    Save to Project icon | Request Permissions | Click to expandQuick Abstract | PDF file iconPDF (289 KB) |  | HTML iconHTML  

    This work in progress summarizes the concepts from various presentation and design books and other relevant research. When designing educational tools, the literature suggests that planning be done on paper. Also, designers should focus on simplicity and deeply consider how they use images, and color. The use of consistency and contrast may evoke emotional responses and make the contents more memorable. These concepts may better motivate, engage, and educate learners. The authors display how they applied the concepts discussed to an online course webpage. As a final note, the authors suggest the use of four colors on white background for educational tools and materials that all visual learners should be able to distinguish. View full abstract»

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  • Availability and uses of sensitive visual information: Protecting Diceros bicornis in South Africa

    Page(s): 1 - 3
    Save to Project icon | Request Permissions | Click to expandQuick Abstract | PDF file iconPDF (132 KB) |  | HTML iconHTML  

    Compelling visual information is valuable as both education and entertainment, and is therefore profitable. The current study, a work in progress, investigates the impact of webcams trained on watering holes in Africa. These video streams have attracted tens of thousands of users interested in viewing African megafauna. Unfortunately, viewing rhinos via the Internet enables poachers to receive precise information about rhino locations. This study investigates the interactions among stakeholders in black rhino preservation, especially with respect to live streaming video and the role of the technical communicators who operate the cameras. View full abstract»

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  • InfoPlanet: Visualizing a semantic web to improve search results through exploration and discovery

    Page(s): 1 - 7
    Save to Project icon | Request Permissions | Click to expandQuick Abstract | PDF file iconPDF (1447 KB) |  | HTML iconHTML  

    InfoPlanet visualizes a semantic web that results from users searching on a specific term. This technique helps people explore a dictionary of semantic relationships and discover a set of terms related to their search term. The objectives of the project include the adaptation of suitable ontology to support modeling of general concepts on the web and make those concepts suitable for visual display, the storage and retrieval of those interactively updated concepts based on semantic analytics, and the design of an optimized user interface that enables serendipity and exploration of search terms. It derives ontological and knowledge base information from a lexical database and a commonsense reasoning system, and integrates its own rules to store interconnected concepts. These concepts can be retrieved interactively to a meta-search module to provide interpretation of what the user is looking for and prediction of what the user might be interested in. It also collects user interaction data and gradually learns the semantic relationships among interconnected concepts. Semantic search involves contextual meaning of words and complex motivations of web users, and thus constantly needs verification or clarification from users. Visualization of search query may help to minimize users' effort in such a process. Using InfoPlanet makes searches more effective and enhances the knowledge base of InfoPlanet through successful searches. The project addresses the challenges of designing an intuitive, exploratory tool for web search. View full abstract»

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  • Metadata database design as an aid to scientific discovery

    Page(s): 1 - 9
    Save to Project icon | Request Permissions | Click to expandQuick Abstract | PDF file iconPDF (292 KB) |  | HTML iconHTML  

    The National Science Foundation has a vision. They see the nation's cyber infrastructure enhancing science by making all data and research results easily available to all researchers, with cross-disciplinary exposure leading to new breakthroughs. One component of this vision is the creation of virtual communities of practice, which require both informational and human systems. Currently, data centers have informational systems, and scientific networking sites have human systems, but these systems are not collocated or integrated, and they are often focused on a single discipline. Online scientific networking significantly lags social and business networking because conducting science requires data and access to publications, components not available through current online networking tools. Thus, one way scientific discovery can be substantially enabled is by data centers adding the human system to their already existing information systems-by reorganizing their metadata to support professional networking modules, and installing such modules. In this work, I present the organizational structure and some of the requirements being considered at the International Arctic Research Center for our next few system upgrades, and how they will enable professional networking at the different levels. Considerable scientific benefits can result from adopting a user-friendly interface and organizing metadata to allow greater search flexibility. Such organization also supplies the metadata necessary for integration of a professional networking system. View full abstract»

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  • Give us this day: The grain meme in environmental and food justice discourse

    Page(s): 1 - 14
    Save to Project icon | Request Permissions | Click to expandQuick Abstract | PDF file iconPDF (234 KB) |  | HTML iconHTML  

    In 1976, Richard Dawkins drew upon evolutionary principles to examine the replication of cultural ideas, coining the term “meme,” analogous to “gene,” to describe ideas that replicate, evolve, and take hold of a culture. With regard to food and food systems, memes often work against measures to enhance the sustainability and health benefits of consumer food choices, as well as global food policy. One meme that operates within environmental and human rights discourse is that increased production, distribution and consumption of grain is the primary solution to global hunger. However, while easily stored, grain is nutritionally insufficient if over-dominant in the diet. Thus, over-dependence on grain may exacerbate malnutrition in less developed countries (LDCs), while leading to obesity in wealthy nations. Moreover, efforts to radically alter the nutritional content of grains have yet to succeed and increased production has displaced more nutritional staples in LDCs, has caused grain prices to dramatically fluctuate, and has relegated the vast bulk of production to multi-national corporations and their contractors. View full abstract»

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  • Managing risk in internet-based survey research

    Page(s): 1 - 6
    Save to Project icon | Request Permissions | Click to expandQuick Abstract | PDF file iconPDF (158 KB) |  | HTML iconHTML  

    This paper describes a risk management strategy for Internet-based survey research that was recently used in a remote Internet-based study that assessed the effect of web design variables on web users. The strategy was drawn from a combination of best practices and survey design principles used by established scholars in the growing area of Internet-based research. The purpose of this paper is to suggest a risk-mitigation framework for other Internet researchers that can be adapted to their specific research goals and objectives. View full abstract»

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  • Customer-focused documents:- Engineers' use of visuals to support product descriptions

    Page(s): 1 - 5
    Save to Project icon | Request Permissions | Click to expandQuick Abstract | PDF file iconPDF (1183 KB) |  | HTML iconHTML  

    Engineers find obvious self-expression or any hint of emotive language in writing for design documentation anathema. They strive for objective-like expression, and are particularly vigilant about usage that might convey personal stance or partiality. However, such attitudes hold little sway in engineers' choice of visuals to accompany their writing, especially in documentation intended for external audiences, mainly product data sheets and proposals. Five thematic categories for making judgments about visuals for customer-focused documents are suggested: cultural and ideological; functional; political; discoursal-attitudinal; and narrative. View full abstract»

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  • Branding, defining and belonging: Creating an identity for the Engineering Communication Program

    Page(s): 1 - 4
    Save to Project icon | Request Permissions | Click to expandQuick Abstract | PDF file iconPDF (152 KB) |  | HTML iconHTML  

    In 2010, the Engineering Communication Program (ECP) teamed up with Engineering Strategic Communication to find a visual way to resolve ECP's identity issues. Not only was the program a kind of outsider to the world of math, hard science and research which were identified with University of Toronto Engineering, but the instructors themselves had a difficult time differentiating themselves from Teaching Assistants. Students did not have a conventional way to identify instructors who taught interactively in small classes scheduled during tutoring times or who tutored in one-on-one or one-on-team settings. The situation was further complicated by the fact that the university had recently completed a branding exercise and was centrally determining what kinds of symbolic representations or typefaces could be used. We wanted to utilize the university new “brand” as well as our own faculty's in order to represent ourselves visibly as part of the engineering world. Our answer, within what was currently permitted by the university, had two components: a type treatment of our name, matching the type treatments used by engineering departments, and an insignia that introduced an acronym for communication instructors - MyCI. In future, we will be conducting a study to determine the associations the insignia evokes for students. View full abstract»

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  • Slideware: Text or visuals?

    Page(s): 1 - 3
    Save to Project icon | Request Permissions | Click to expandQuick Abstract | PDF file iconPDF (158 KB) |  | HTML iconHTML  

    This Work in Progress discusses the literature evaluating the use of slideware in the classroom, student benefits and retention rates. The focus is on how the literature addresses the following issues: 1. Presentation gurus argue that slides high on visual content and low on text appeal to audiences. Research argues that students learn better from text and pictures than text alone. However, is visual content sufficient for long-term retention if the accompanying narration is not recorded, i.e. via note-taking, during class? 2. Research indicates that multimedia use occasionally leads to redundancy due to the coexistence of graphics, text and narration. Accordingly, material needs to be evaluated in terms of the combination of graphics, text and narration in order to lower the cognitive load for the students. 3. Graphics are advocated as tools to increase appeal. For educators whose goals are learning and content retention, can and should content be presented visually rather than textually? This paper discusses how the literature evaluates the suitability of both mediums to transmit information to an audience in an academic setting. View full abstract»

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  • Organizational change in a public housing foundation: The crucial importance of discourse analysis

    Page(s): 1 - 15
    Save to Project icon | Request Permissions | Click to expandQuick Abstract | PDF file iconPDF (298 KB) |  | HTML iconHTML  

    The purpose of this paper is to investigate how strategic vision of change is communicated by managers and how this affects the discourse behavior of service engineers. The case study describes the consequence of variations in professional discourse of managers and employees (mostly engineers) working together in a public housing foundation. The data suggest that interaction between different professionals using different discourses can be a source of misunderstanding. As a consequence behavior of the professional seems to impede cooperation. It is recommended that future research regarding change management should incorporate linguistic discourse analysis. Investigating social interaction processes in change programs could be done comprehensively paying attention to differences in professional cultures in cross-functional cooperation. A managerial implication of our study is that understanding differences in professional discourses reflected in communication is a constant point of attention in facilitating processes of organizational change. We argue that change programs contain both objective and subjective dimensions, of which the linguistic dimensions might give reasons for better understanding the difficulties in implementing change in new ways. View full abstract»

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  • Seeing typeface personality: Emotional responses to form as tone

    Page(s): 1 - 9
    Save to Project icon | Request Permissions | Click to expandQuick Abstract | PDF file iconPDF (1150 KB) |  | HTML iconHTML  

    Various studies have correlated specific visual characteristics of typefaces with specific overall emotional effects: curvilinear forms and open letter shapes generally feel “friendly” but also “formal” or “informal,” depending on other factors; large contrasts in stroke widths, cap height, and aspect ratio generally feel “interesting,” but also “attractive” or “aggressive,” depending on other factors; low-variety and low-contrast forms generally feel “professional” but also “reliable” or “boring.” Although the current findings on typeface personality are useful, they have not indicated a systematic explanation for why specific physical typeface forms have the specific emotion effects that they do. This paper will report results of an empirical study in which 102 participants indicated their immediate emotional responses to each of 36 distinct typeface designs. Results support correlation between specific typeface features (variety vs. contrast vs. pattern) and specific emotional parameters (amusement vs. agitation vs. focus), explaining findings of previous studies, suggesting various classroom approaches to purpose-driven typeface selection. View full abstract»

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  • Developing best practices for API reference documentation: Creating a platform to study how programmers learn new APIs

    Page(s): 1 - 9
    Save to Project icon | Request Permissions | Click to expandQuick Abstract | PDF file iconPDF (332 KB) |  | HTML iconHTML  

    Software developers use application-programming interface (API) documentation to learn how to use the features of software libraries. How quickly software developers learn to use a library's features determines how quickly they can apply those features in a software application. Recent studies have shown that API documentation is, unfortunately, not always as helpful to software developers as they need it to be. This paper studies the prototype of a tool and a method that are being developed to help technical writers identify the elements of API reference documentation that help software developers complete programming tasks. The tool and method described in this paper use a remote user-assessment platform, which enables researchers and technical writers to study the effect that document design variations have on a large and diverse audience. Such an approach can help technical writers identify new best practices for writing effective API documentation. View full abstract»

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  • Small text, big effects: How a technical communicator used writing to influence design decisions in a software firm

    Page(s): 1 - 8
    Save to Project icon | Request Permissions | Click to expandQuick Abstract | PDF file iconPDF (216 KB) |  | HTML iconHTML  

    This paper focuses on the work that technical communicators perform every day to help themselves and their work teams manage information. The paper conceptualizes this work as rhetorical memory work in order to emphasize its importance to processes of organizational invention and creativity. The paper reports data assembled from an observation session with a technical communicator as he composed software documentation and subsequently attended a team meeting, data excerpted from a six-month case study of a team of technical communicators. The analysis finds that the technical communicator performed important creative work for his organization through the medium of a simple reminder note, which he created to help himself remember talking points at a meeting. View full abstract»

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  • Visual rhetoric in electronic food journaling communications

    Page(s): 1 - 12
    Save to Project icon | Request Permissions | Click to expandQuick Abstract | PDF file iconPDF (663 KB) |  | HTML iconHTML  

    This presentation analyzes the rhetorical features of the electronic food journal as it quantifies the biological process of eating and represents food data on-screen. I will analyze the interfaces (data entry screens, networked databases of foods) and outputs (charts, graphs, and records) in terms of visual rhetoric related to embodiment literature and public health discourse. I will outline how current journaling formats account for a disruption in mind-body-technology feedback loops and provide suggestions for reimagining the visual rhetoric of the electronic journals to better-account for embodied experiences of health and wellness. The information shared within this paper will help listeners to think through issues of posthumanism, digital subjectivity, and how to best convey health data in visual design. View full abstract»

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  • Why should I listen?: The Ethos of science magazine covers

    Page(s): 1 - 7
    Save to Project icon | Request Permissions | Click to expandQuick Abstract | PDF file iconPDF (170 KB) |  | HTML iconHTML  

    In an age of widespread information availability, we expect scientific information to be available not only to members of the scientific community, but to the general public as well. However, the reasons these two communities have for gaining this information tend to vary, and as a result the manner in which the information is portrayed needs to shift to fit these goals. This study looks at how scientific magazines build ethos from the audience's first interaction by analyzing the covers of various scientific magazines aimed at audiences of different knowledge levels. Because of the different expectations between the audiences, the magazines use different methods to convince the audience of the value of the information, both in terms of what the audience wants to get out of reading and in terms of how authoritative the audience believes the magazine to be. This sort of study can help us understand the adjustments that must take place both in terms of content and presentation when communicating with audiences of different knowledge levels. This will allow us not only to effectively target audiences to catch their attention, but can also help us determine how audiences understand information they receive. View full abstract»

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  • Power presenting for cognitive retention and organizational longevity

    Page(s): 1 - 9
    Save to Project icon | Request Permissions | Click to expandQuick Abstract | PDF file iconPDF (1462 KB) |  | HTML iconHTML  

    We discuss much-tested, stronger techniques for engineers, instructors, trainers, and technical experts who use presentation slides as part of their work output. We draw from 1) practicing engineers who participated in interviews for a three-year NSF sponsored study on how people learn engineering (n=56); 2) practicing engineers enrolled in two online, graduate, professional engineering programs (n=60+); and 3) the work of experts including cognitive psychologists and visual rhetoric experts that has focused on the slide format in professional settings. Based on research from several fields, these techniques have worked well on several fronts for our practicing engineers; techniques include malleable methods of deploying sentence headers, rhetorical visuals, information layers, and archival organizational notes, amongst others. When practiced in a workplace setting by our graduate engineers, these methods have impressed engineering management and technical colleagues alike as new standards of “best practice” to emulate within their organizations. View full abstract»

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  • Well, “Technically” it is communicating: An ethical critique of a Celebrex© Ad

    Page(s): 1 - 5
    Save to Project icon | Request Permissions | Click to expandQuick Abstract | PDF file iconPDF (154 KB) |  | HTML iconHTML  

    Direct-to-Consumer Advertising (DTCA) of prescription medications has been criticized from many sources for many reasons since it became permissible. This article critiques ethically and rhetorically a particularly egregious example of failed and flawed communication, concerning the drug Celebrex©. This particular television advertisement from 2005 presents conflicting messages of health and contentment coupled with risk and danger. Ethically, however, the textual message about risk and danger is practically incomprehensible, almost as though not meant to be grasped by the public consumer audience, even though this information is of vital importance in making prudent choices about the use of this medication. View full abstract»

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  • Design of the environmental impact statement

    Page(s): 1 - 14
    Save to Project icon | Request Permissions | Click to expandQuick Abstract | PDF file iconPDF (704 KB) |  | HTML iconHTML  

    In this position paper, I analyze the design of the environmental impact statement. I begin by describing the regulatory, genre and audience requirements for this type of technical communication document. Next, I describe four theories of visual design-supra-textual design, metadiscourse, page layout, and typography. I compare and contrast the visual layout of two representative documents against these four theoretical concepts. My goals are to determine if these two documents comply with regulatory requirements for layout, page limit, and readability and to identify the dominant stylistic features of these two documents. In summary, one of two documents met the regulatory requirements for design. With regards to stylistic features, both provided dense blocks of text, although one was more readable than the other. Neither document uses colors or graphics effectively. One offers a better page design, and both use typefaces effectively. I suggest that government agencies allow the visual design of this genre to evolve to better support the needs of the reader. View full abstract»

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  • Teaching usability in a technical communication classroom: Developing competencies to user-test and communicate with an international audience

    Page(s): 1 - 4
    Save to Project icon | Request Permissions | Click to expandQuick Abstract | PDF file iconPDF (145 KB) |  | HTML iconHTML  

    With the increased presence of usability and international/global communication in academia and the corporate world, it is important that college students develop competencies to user-test and communicate with an international audience. To infuse usability and international communication into an advanced technical communication course, I designed an assignment in which students perform usability testing on brochures intended for international graduate students. Through this assignment, students were challenged to develop appropriate testing strategies and methods for visual documents, perform the testing with international users, document the process in a report and present their findings and recommendations in a memorandum. This paper describes how implementing such an assignment sequence into technical communication courses can better prepare students to develop a more in-depth knowledge of communicating and collaborating with an international audience through user-testing, in addition to helping them understand visual rhetoric and experience user-centered communication. View full abstract»

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  • The benefits of communicating and collaborating in a real-time enterprise social network

    Page(s): 1 - 4
    Save to Project icon | Request Permissions | Click to expandQuick Abstract | PDF file iconPDF (481 KB) |  | HTML iconHTML  

    This presentation shows how the technical documentation team at salesforce.com uses real-time enterprise social networking to communicate and collaborate on documentation projects and with other teams in the organization. We are one of the most active social network users within the company. We gather information from various engineering groups, marketing, localization, and support teams to generate documentation in a variety of formats for internal users as well as customers. Even though each writer is responsible for documenting a certain product area, we frequently have to make updates across the entire documentation set. Maintaining a high level of communication, cooperation, and information sharing among the teams is crucial to make sure that nothing is lost. For us, enterprise social networking has made it a lot easier to connect with people in other departments. It turned the company into a community, where people feel connected despite geographic and functional divides. View full abstract»

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  • Visualizing an iterative, dynamic model for improving leadership-employee communication in the organizational change process

    Page(s): 1 - 7
    Save to Project icon | Request Permissions | Click to expandQuick Abstract | PDF file iconPDF (287 KB) |  | HTML iconHTML  

    Change Management Literature addresses successful and unsuccessful change factors, but there is a conceptual gap that overlooks ways in which Leadership-Employee Communication can be operationalized. To deal with this concern, we address themes emerging from interviews focused on employees experiencing Change Management Implementation in Swiss organizations. We question whether the themes and guidelines can offer sound advice to leaders in organizations undergoing Change Management initiatives. We then explore the context in which change occurs, and discuss an approach to change using a designer/user metaphor from the technical communication field. These perspectives broaden Change Management to include production and reception of messages about change through a link to 1) sensemaking, 2) Change Management ethos and 3) cultural resources for action available in the organization. We use a series of visualizations to demonstrate the shift from the current Change Management Paradigm to a new paradigm that integrates enterprise and individual logics of change. The use of user-centered design principles offers Change Management the opportunity to broaden the basis for advising organizations going through change to include contextual analysis and action research addressing the interaction between change designers and change users at each step of the Change Management process. View full abstract»

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