Structural Organization of Business Negotiations

Structural Organization of Business Negotiations - A...

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A DISCOURSE ANALYSIS APPROACH TO THE EPISODIC STRUCTURE OF SALES NEGOTIATIONS: OBSERVATIONS ON BUSINESS ENGLISH STUDENTS’ MENTAL PATTERNS OF DISCOURSE TRANSACTIONS. Victoria Guillén Nieto University of Alicante Abstract – Drawing on the assumption that the business negotiation is a specific type of spoken genre, this piece of qualitative research focuses on the mental patterns or scripts that a sample of European Business English students, who have not been trained in negotiating skills, have regarding the discourse structure of sales negotiations, i.e ., the presence or absence of a particular ritualistic behaviour as well as the occurrence or non-occurrence of typified procedures and patterns, by comparing different versions of the same negotiation. The methodology used draws on Discourse Analysis. The main research questions are: Do the students sampled share the same script of a sales negotiation? Can we perceive any relevant differences in students’ expectations about the discourse transactions of a sales negotiation? If so, what are the reasons that may serve as an explanation to such differing views and performances? To what extent does the script upon which students base their expectations concerning the episodic structure of a sales negotiation resemble that of the proposed ideal model of negotiation? The data are sixteen videotaped open role-played negotiations. Introduction Over the last twenty years, Pragmatics has made Linguistics describe a marked turn from the motorway of syntax to the crossroads of discourse analysis, that is, to the study of the structure and function of language beyond the level of the sentence. One of the major concerns of discourse analysts is to describe and explain how spoken discourse is structured and how speakers’ conversational contributions are connected. This pragmatic approach to language use has generously contributed to the development of linguistic research into the field of English for Specific Purposes, encouraging researchers to consider business discourse as a specific type of social interaction and business speech events as specific genres. ( Vid . Mulholland: 1991; Charles: 1996; Steuten: 1996; White: 1998, etc.). To illustrate this line of research, let us consider, for example, the investigation carried out by Steuten (1996) who analysed the internal structure and cohesion in business conversations, i.e . telephone calls at a Dutch Hotel, by means of a hierarchical model of business conversations called DEMO (Dynamic Essential Modelling of Organisations), which focuses on the transaction concept to understand the sequences of communicative actions in business conversations. Many linguists agree on the fact that speech events can be grouped into: (a) written genres such as poetry, narrative, report-writing, letter writing, etc.; and (b) spoken genres like the telephone call, the interview, the negotiation, etc. The underlying assumption of this 1
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This note was uploaded on 03/11/2012 for the course INTERNATIO various taught by Professor Mariolondoño during the Spring '12 term at Universidad de Antioquia.

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Structural Organization of Business Negotiations - A...

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