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Writing in the workplace: Variation in the writing practices and formality of eight multinational companies in Greece

Machili, Ifigeneia


Ifigeneia Machili


Workplace writing is a high stakes activity. It constitutes a permanent record of a company’s transactions and this has implications for both the employees involved in the production of documents and also for the company as a whole. Workplace writing is dynamic, and processes and practices vary between teams, departments, companies and industries. In this context, the study is concerned with workplace writing practices in eight multinational companies situated in Greece. The thesis is structured in two parts: the first part aims to explore the writing practices in the participant organisations focusing on factors behind inter- and intra- company variation. The discussion draws on the analysis of questionnaire and interview data. The second part takes a micro perspective and focuses on one genre, that of the business email. The analysis reports on a sample of naturally occurring emails from three participant companies. As the business email tends to be perceived as an informal genre, special attention is paid to the notion of formality, which has not been systematically discussed and defined in this context.
The findings show that writing practices vary according to company size, employees’ hierarchical level and years of experience. Business email emerges as the most frequent genre, which serves a range of functions in different contexts. Dynamic continua of writing practices ranging from ‘formal to informal’ and ‘transactional to relational’ are mobilised as employees reflect on their use of email at work and this is aligned with the findings of the linguistic analysis. The data also indicate the impact of the globalised socioeconomic activity on employees’ practices in modern organisations. The participants in this study operate at the interface of different languages and practices, which cut across national and professional boundaries. The complex choices they make in different contexts have implications for language training and specifically the teaching of writing in academic contexts.


Machili, I. Writing in the workplace: Variation in the writing practices and formality of eight multinational companies in Greece. (Thesis). University of the West of England

Thesis Type Thesis
Keywords workplace writing, workplace discourse, formality, variation in writing practices, multinational companies


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