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Because Language Matters: Transdisciplinary Action Research on Financial Communication
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Transdisciplinary action research (TDA) is about understanding and improving the “life-world” (e.g. Hirsch Hadorn, et al., 2008). In the TDA research framework, academics from various disciplines collaborate with practitioners to investigate and sustainably solve a socially-relevant practical problem. TDA transcends academia: it is research “on, for and with” practitioners (Cameron, Frazer, Rampton, & Richardson, 1992, p. 22). This presentation outlines TDA as a productive research framework to bridge gaps between applied linguistics on the one hand and communication practitioners on the other. To illustrate TDA, we draw on a research project on financial communication.

Financial analysts play a key role in financial markets, economy, and societal welfare. However, despite their social relevance, both the analysts as cross-disciplinary mediators and the texts themselves are widely under-researched. Based on a context-annotated corpus of 1500 financial analysts’ company reviews (German, English, Japanese), our transdisciplinary research project investigates the cultural, organizational, and individual variety of financial analysts’ written communication. The overall research goal is to identify critical situations and situative good practices of cross-disciplinary communication in the financial community (Whitehouse & Perrin, 2015).

In this presentation, we focus on one specific research question: to what extent do equity analysts’ company updates for investors fulfill their requirement to mediate between the disciplines and between laypersons and experts? The results suggest that these texts bear the risk of partial communicative failure. Based on these findings, we discuss what actions – in line with basic assumptions from transdisciplinary action research – can improve the texts’ communicative potential.

References
Cameron, Deborah, Frazer, Elizabeth, Rampton, Ben, & Richardson, Kay (1992). Researching language. Issues of power and method. London: Routledge.

Hirsch Hadorn et al. (2008). The emergence of transdisciplinarity as a form of research. In Holger Hoffmann-Riem et al. (Eds.), Handbook of transdisciplinary research (pp. 19–39). Berlin: Springer.

Whitehouse, Marlies, & Perrin, Daniel (2015). Comprehensibility and comprehensiveness of financial analysts’ reports. Studies in Communication Sciences, 15(1), 111–119.

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