Collaborative Writing Across Distances: An Ethnographic Study of Workplace Writing Across Coasts and Cultures




Cassidy, Lauren

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This thesis describes the collaborative writing practices among colleagues within the same company who work in two geographically-dispersed offices. The author conducted an ethnography of ERC, the education research division within a large research and development organization, observing and interviewing staff in both the east and west coast offices over a period of five months. The study examined the overall organizational culture, the two distinct office cultures that emerged in part because of the distance, and the individual writing team cultures, and how both the cultures and distance influenced writing collaborations. It also addressed how collaborative writing shapes the various cultures. Although a literature review suggested that being in two different places with two different office cultures would hinder collaboration, this study found that ERC was able to have successful writing collaborations because of the cultures of the overall organization, the two separate offices, and the individual writing teams.



Writing, Collaboration, Workplace, Culture, Distance, Distributed work