Date of Award

5-1998

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Major

Communication

Major Professor

Dorothy A. Bowles

Committee Members

Barbara Moore, Faye D. Julian, Herbert H. Howard

Abstract

This study (1) describes cultural assumptions in the student travel industry, relying upon protocols previously established within the functionalist perspective and (2) explains how these assumptions may have evolved by examining the basic communicative processes (performances) wherein industry culture has been made manifest.

The study identifies eight members of the student travel industry and uses qualitative methods that consist of in-depth interviews with the industry's "elite" members, as well as content analysis of selected historical and contemporary documents. Data were analyzed, first by thematic coding and then by interpretive analysis of codes that emerged. To frame the analysis, Phillips' (1990) functional "reporting structure" (categories) for cultural assumptions was cross-referenced with Pacanowsky and O'Donnell-Trujillo's (1983) heuristic listing of Performances of Passion -- e.g. storytelling and repartee (constructs, jargon, vocabulary, and metaphor). One result of adopting this "paradigm interplay" as a metatheoretical perspective has been to demonstrate that the functionalist perspective may serve as an heuristic frame for interpretation, while the rich description and depth of understanding generated by interpretive analysis may enhance the scope and understanding of the emerging frame. Not an original goal of the research, this phenomenon nonetheless materialized as the study progressed.

Beyond that, this study not only joins the growing body of empirical evidence suggesting that industry cultures underlie corporate cultures but also describes how an industry's culture has evolved by examining communicative "performances" of its cultural assumptions. In doing so, it uncovers a primary source of these assumptions, and provides insight, not only into existing theories of organizational and industry culture, but also into the relationship of communication and culture, per se.

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