Call for Presenters:

Business Practices Committee

Sponsored Panel for 2019 ABC Annual Conference

The ABC Business Practices Committee is inviting submissions for the theme:

Technical Innovation in Workplace Communication

In 1988, JoAnne Yates of MIT’s Sloane School of Management presented to the ABC Annual Meeting an historical examination of the format of a then-ubiquitous document, the internal office memorandum, or “memo.”  Yates emphasized that the major distinguishing features of this genre—the “From,” “To,” and “Subject” headers—had actually come into existence since the early 1920s.  Using archival materials from E. I. du Pont de Nemours and Company and also the Scoville Manufacturing Company, Yates demonstrated that the unique features of the memo genre were influenced by the development and wide acceptance of a new storage technology, the vertical file cabinet, which had introduced at the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair.  According to Yates, these filing systems were most effectively organized by Subject, and the new written genre prominently featured a “Subject” header in order to facilitate filing.  Yates concluded that the establishment of the memo genre—a major means of business communication—was the direct result of technical innovation.  Of course, later innovations—courtesy of Microsoft and its Windows software—would perpetuate the memo format into the 21st century.

Yates’s research emphasizes that emergent technologies--including their subsequent benefits and frequent disruptions—have frequently determined the shape of business communication, both as a field of study and as practice in the workplace.

The theme of the 2019 ABC Annual International Conference in Detroit, Michigan, is “Innovations with Business Communication: Companies, Communities, and Classrooms.”  The Business Practices Committee will sponsor a panel hosted at this Conference; its focus will be “Technical Innovation in Business Communication.”  The panel will include four presentations that offer original research concerning the ways in which technology has influenced communication practices in the workplace.  Case studies, historical analyses, ethnographic treatments, rhetorical and discourse analyses, quantitative studies, or other appropriate research methodologies are welcomed.   


Individuals or research teams interested in presenting their research are invited to submit a proposal abstract (approximately 500 words) as indicated below.  It is not necessary to prepare a full manuscript in order to be considered for the panel.  Panelists will be selected based upon review by members of the Business Practices Committee.

Four presentations will be selected for this Business Practices panel.  In the event you are not selected for the panel, but wish to be considered for a regular or poster session at the conference, please also submit directly to the ABC Detroit conference following their submission guidelines.  If you choose this simultaneous submission, at the bottom of your Detroit regular or poster session submission, note:  THIS ABSTRACT WAS ALSO SUBMITTED TO BUSINESS PRACTICES PANEL.


Please send abstracts by April 16, 2019, to the Committee Chair, Sam DeKay, at


If you have further questions concerning the Business Practices Committee or its sponsored panel at the 2019 International Conference, please contact the above email address.