Reberta Lopez
English 1A Sec. 9109
Professor Ogbara
April 21, 2014
Business Impact
A discourse community is a community that is significantly different from a speech
community, or any other type community. Linguistic professor John Swales (1990) describes a
discourse community as a group of people who must meet certain literacy requirements, share a
common goal, and require new members to be recruited into the community. (Swales, 1990, 470-
471). These requirements are all in opposition to what Swales (1990) describes as a speech
community. An example of a speech community would be a group of friends because the
objectives in this community, as described by Swales (1990) meets objectives of; shared
language, shared social activities, and no qualifications to be a member of his group. The
differentiation between a speech community and a discourse community can be argued as a small
one, so Swales (1990) set a list of requirements that a community must meet in order to be
defined as a discourse community.
The first general requirements that a discourse community must meet is common literacy,
common goals, and required recruitment. Swales list of requirements state that a discourse
community must; share common goals, engage in an exchange of information ideas, and
feedback, contain operations, lexis’s, and has a suitable ratio of experts and novices. (Swales,
1990, p. 471-472). So by the definition and set of requirements declared by Swales (1990), the
business community is a discourse community. Even though it is highly required to study the

importance of communication in the business community; it should be equally important to study
the business community as a discourse community, because doing so will help fully understand
the workings of the business community.
My first step in research was to find scholarly journals and articles that gave me more
insight into the functions of the business community. I chose articles and journals based on their
relation to Swales’ description of a discourse community. I found journals about business
communications, the importance of communication in the business community, and the ethics
that are held in the business community. After researching and receiving some insight into the
business community and the functions of it as a discourse community, I then proceeded to
interview my Business professor. The interview with Assistant Professor Banerjee happened
during his office hours in his office, and the audio was recorded, along with short hand notes.
The majority of my questions asked was to help define a discourse community and to discover
the inner workings of the discourse community of my professor. My questions conducted during
the interview came from James Paul Gees definition of a discourse community, and ranged from
role models to the critical thinking skills necessary in every day functions of the community.
I then conducted survey of students within my own community, which consisted of
students who are taking a business class or business majors. I teamed up with a student in my
English class so we could put together our surveys, and conduct them. We put together our
questions and then printed out fifty surveys each to conduct one hundred surveys between the
two of us. The questions asked in the survey were to find out how students in the business
community thought about their future discourse. Before distributing the surveys, I had find out
where I would be able to find the students I was targeting. I went to talk to my business professor

to find out what other times he teaches his business class. I then went to the classroom he teaches
in right before one of his classes started, and passed out my survey to the students. I did a few
observations as well. I then went to another one of his classes, and passed out my survey to the
students leaving the classroom. This time I was unable to make observations of these students,
and unable to get the students to take the survey. I also posted my survey on a survey site and
posted the link onto my social media sites, specifically asking college students to take the survey.
There were only nine people who took the online survey. My partner did not give me her
complete results, so there were only thirty four students in my total survey.
After conducting the research that I found necessary, I compiled the results of the surveys
and analyzed them along with my interview and other scholarly research. I then compared the
results from my research to Swales’ definition of a discourse community. I brought in my
knowledge of the business community from my business class, and my research, then came to
the conclusion that the business community functions as a discourse community.

Figure 1
Note: Refer to Appendix A for survey key.
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
Discourse Community Surveys
Strongly Disagree Disagree Neutral Agree Strongly Agree

Figure 2
The following are the six requirements that Swales uses to define a discourse community,
and how aspects of the business community directly relate to each requirement.
Swales’ (1990) first requirement of a discourse community is that it must have a common
set of public goals that is established by the community (471). All members of the community
share these goals and follow them, the goals are either written or unspoken (Swales, p. 471). This
set of goals for the business community is unwritten, but is learned through business classes and
knowledge of the industry. The number one established common goal in business is the seeking
of profit, although some members do not hold this as the number one goal. In Figure 2, students
who were surveyed were asked “What is your motivation to be in your discourse community?”
and given the options of choosing “Financial Award” and “Personal Satisfaction”. The students
were not prompted to specifically choose one option, so this resulted in some students choosing
both options. Financial was solely chosen by 26% of students with 33% of students choosing
Motivation to be in Discourse

both options. This concludes that 59% of the students surveyed chose to be a part of their
discourse community for financial gain. 62% of the student’s survey identified themselves as
students being a part of the business community. Although it may not be hard evidence, many
students choose their future career based on financial gain, and personal satisfaction coming
Through classroom observations I also concluded that the driving force for most students
to enter the business community was for financial gain. Although financial gain is not guaranteed
students entering the business field seemed to hold a higher interest of financial gain over
personal satisfaction. During one of the lectures in class the professor discussed how the ultimate
goal of starting a business or to become a business owner it to make a profit. This common goal
that all members of the business community share, meets the first qualification of Swales’ (1990)
definition of a discourse community.
Intercommunication between members is the second requirement that Swales (1990)
states that must be met for a community to be defined as a discourse community (471). The
communication that happens in the business world is changing with new technologies bringing
communication through the internet. In 2012, Waldeck, Durante, Helmuth, and Marcia
concluded that with the new forms of communication, there are changing forms of
intercommunication in the business world (p. 231). Assistant professor and business owner
Suprio Banerjee describes his daily forms of communication consisting of e-mail, telephone,
hand mailed letters, and legal documents for business related purposes (S. Banerjee, personal
communication, April 14, 2014). Banerjee also uses face to face communication, email and
telephone to communicate with his colleagues at Pasadena City College. Email in today’s world

has become one of the primary forms of communication that the members of the business
community must adjust to by learning new interactions, communications skills and
Along with direct forms of communication, communication through business
publications and business books is also functions as a form of intercommunication between
members of the business community. One of the most popular forms of these communications as
concluded by Waldeck et al. (2012) is “Business week and Forbes” (p. 232). Professor Banerjee
also stated that he has to keep up with current trends in the industry by reading such published
To be fully involved in the business community it is important to engage in all forms of
communication (publications, e-mail, etc.). It is also important to be able to understand business
publications, to it is important to become familiar with the terminology. When writing emails or
conducting any type of communication it is also important to know how to utilize current
technologies, along with withholding professionalism as if used in any other form of business
Information and Feedback
Information and feedback is extremely important in the business community by
interaction with the public, and amongst members. In 2011, Menguc, Auh, and Kim concluded
that salespeople engage in “knowledge sharing behavior” with co-workers outside the work
environment (p. 119). Sharing information and receiving feedback are key elements that
managers look for in order for a work team to run efficiently. Members of the business
community share this information through many channels such as Business letters,
memorandums, and business plans (S. Banerjee, personal communication, April 14, 2014).

Specifically, a business plan is utilized to share information about the aspects of a business to
future investors, and public.
Genres as described by Swales (1990) are the articulation of the operations of the
discourse community, or the expectation of the community (p. 472). The expectations of the
business community follow the guidelines of business ethics. Bucaro (2007) states business
members “communicate the importance of ethics by their actions” (para. 1). This is known as
business ethics and consists of ethical goals that members of the business world uphold. Business
members follow requirements by law and unspoken rules to achieve ethical behavior. According
to the The U.S Small Business Administration website, some of the ethical law laws are the
“antitrust laws [that] make it illegal to conspire to restrain trade or commerce in any marketplace,
regardless of size” (para. 1). Some of these laws include monopolization, price discrimination,
and conspiring to fix market prices (The U.S Small Business Administration). These laws
prohibit unethical behavior from all businesses, especially new businesses. Price discrimination
prohibits a major industry from securing low product prices from buyers (The U.S Small
Business Administration). In other words, this law prohibits a major business from selling a
product at a low price that other businesses are unable to compete with. This law makes sure that
all businesses are on an equal playing field.
Swales (1990) requires that a community must have lexis specific to the community to be
defined as a discourse community (473). There are many lexis’ used in the business community
that are only known by members who are educated, and involved in the business community.
One specific lexis that is centered in the business community is the four P’s of marketing, which

stands for product, price, placement and promotion (S. Banerjee, personal communication, April
14, 2014). This is a learning objective for Business nine, and is an essential concept practiced by
all businesses to succeed. Business lexis’ are not specifically used with every day
communication, but are required to know to succeed in the business community. Through the
survey conducted (Figure 1), it is believed by students that business terms can be used outside
the business community (Survey, personal communication, April 23, 2014). Contradicting this
idea Professor Banerjee does not normally use the business terms we learned in class outside of
the business circle (Appendix B). So by conclusion business is terminology is specifically only
used amongst business members, and the surveyed students were incorrect. Outside the business
community the four P’s of marketing have no power or definition.
Changing Membership
The final requirement that Swales (1990) states a community must meet in order to be
defined as a discourse community is that there is an adequate “ratio between novices and
experts” (p. 473). In the interview with Banerjee (2014) he was asked if there were any great
leaders in the business community and he responded, the founder of the Holiday Inn, and the
Marriot. He mentioned a successful friend of his that is very successful as a great leader.
Through general knowledge about the business community I know that there are many great
leaders who are publicly known, and a few who are not. Banerjee (2014) stated that he became
teacher in order to share his knowledge of his profession. The ratio of novices and professionals
is sufficient enough in that there are many professionals, or leaders, for novices to learn from;
confirming Swale (2009) final requirement.

The business community functions more than just a speech community, or common
interest community. The business community meets all of six of Swales (1990) standards of a
discourse community of having; a common set of goals, system of intercommunication, provides
information and feedback, possess genres, possess lexis’, and has an adequate ratio of novices
and professionals (p. 471-473). Since the business community is a discourse community, it will
be difficult to become a part of this community as compared to a regular community. I have
already accepted the common goal for this community and know some lexis’, but I am
completely a novice in this community. To become an expert I must be fully educated in all
business communication, learn how to provide information and feedback to the business
standards, and become educated in all aspects mentioned in the six requirements of a discourse
community. This requires reading, writing and critical thinking skills to succeed and become a
member and eventually a professional in this community. To become a professional requires
experience after becoming a part of the business community, and involves more than just
knowledge of the community. To be seen as a professional I would have to succeed in the
business sector by establishing myself and achieving the goal of financial gain.
Banerjee, S. (2014, April 14). Discourse Community Interview [Interview by R. Lopez].
Bucaro, F. C. (2007). if good ethics is good business, what's the problem?. Supervision, 68(6), 6
Menguc, B., Auh, S., & Chan Kim, Y. (2011). Salespeople's Knowledge-Sharing Behaviors with
Coworkers Outside the Sales Unit. Journal Of Personal Selling & Sales Management,
31(2), 103-122.
Swales, P. (2011). The Concept of Discourse Community. In Downs and Wardle (Eds.), Wrting

about Writing (pp. 455-473). Boston, MA: Bedford St. Martins
The U.S Small Business Administration. (n.a). Understanding Fair Practice. In Business Law and
Rgulations. Retrieved from http://www.sba.gov
Waldeck, J., Durante, C., Helmuth, B., & Marcia, B. (2012). Communication in a Changing
World: Contemporary Perspectives on Business Communication Competence. Journal Of
Education For Business, 87(4), 230-240. doi:10.1080/08832323.2011.608388
Appendix A
Discourse Community: a group of people who share the same vocabulary, basic values,
assumptions, and ways of communicating about goals. College, post-graduate studies and careers
come with their own language conventions.

Strongly Disagree Neutral Agree
Disagree Agree
Is it important to be bilingual in your discourse
1 2 3 4 5
Do you see yourself working in your discourse community
for more than 10 years?
1 2 3 4 5
Do you enjoy being part of a business discourse
1 2 3 4 5
Is being part of your discourse community challenging? 1 2 3 4 5
Do you believe business terms can be used outside the
business community?
1 2 3 4 5
There is a lot of reading requirements for this community. 1 2 3 4 5
There is a lot of writing requirements for this community. 1 2 3 4 5
Do you believe you must be fully skilled in reading and
writing to succeed in this community?
1 2 3 4 5
Do you believe critical thinking skills are big requirements
for your discourse community?
1 2 3 4 5
What is your motivation to be in your discourse
Financial Award Personal Satisfaction

These are the results of the survey I conducted of students in my current discourse community.
Each question asked was to inform me about what students think of the business community as a
discourse community. I was surprised to see how many students strongly agreed with the fact
that it is essential to have critical thinking skills in the business community. I was also surprised
at the results of the question of the importance to be bilingual in the business profession. I
thought it would be a landslide of students believing that being bilingual is very important, but it
turned out that there were two thirds of students agreeing with this idea compared to the students
who strongly agreed with this idea. Many students felt neutral on this subject. I was also
surprised by the results of the question “Do you believe you must be fully skilled in reading and
writing to succeed in this community?”, because there were five students who were neutral on
this subject, and four students who disagreed with this question. Other than these findings, I
concluded that students are aware of the critical thinking skills necessary for this community
along with the importance of reading and writing skills, and the reason for students to join the
business community is because they enjoy it.

Appendix B
Full Name: Suprio, Banerjee. Business Owner/Assistant Professor, Business and Computer
Technology Division
Date: April 14, 2014
Time: 11:26 AM
Place: R308 B

Prompt: Analyze your future discourse community. What reading, writing, and critical thinking
skills are necessary to meet the goals and expectations of this discourse community?
Make sure to remain a good remodel, have a good time teaching and share knowledge so
students can become professionals in their field and succeed at PCC.
What are some words that are specific for this community?
Business terms are used primarily with associates, some terms include the four P’s of
marketing, business plans, budget and forecating. Time management, money
management, self-discipline and professionalism.
How long have you been part of this community?
18 years teaching, 10 years as a business owner.
What are the forms of communication in this community?
Face to face, email, and phone with colleagues at PCC. With business associates use
mostly e-mail, then telephone, then letters such as legal documents.
What are the requirements to be in this community?
A master’s degree, and industry experience is helpful. To become a business owner there
is no requirement, just a desire to be a part of it, learn business, and have a burning
What made you interested in becoming a part of the business community?
Business is what I know, studied business, know the industry, and confident in it. I
always loved training, “It would be nice to continue on that on the college level.”
How did you learn the aspects of being a business owner?
Started at the bottom and moved up.
Who are some great leaders of this community?

In the business community the founder of the Holiday Inn and the Marriot. Good
friend/roommate is big in the field of owning restaurants, has 200 plus restaurants. Looks
up to visionaries. My professor in the University of Maryland whose passion, desire,
teaching style and technique I admired. That’s my role model, I have learned a lot about
my classroom leadership skills from him, and he’s a good mentor.
What are your usual readings and writings that directly relate to the business world?
I read magazines, newspapers, and trade journals. Some of the writings is writing for
school letters that are limited to school affairs and some memos.
Are there any critical thinking skills that you perform to achieve your goals in this industry?
Every day critical thinking of dealing with people, economic conditions, so many unique
unforeseen situations, dealing with customer issues. Always, analyze school data in tracking
student progress and development. Then developing and setting up strategies based on that for
future semesters. Critical thinking in how to manage the department budget.