Document Type


Date of Award

Spring 5-31-2015

Degree Name

Master of Science in Professional and Technical Communication - (M.S.)



First Advisor

Bernadette C. Longo

Second Advisor

David Kmiec

Third Advisor

Carol Siri Johnson

Fourth Advisor

Nancy Steffen-Fluhr


Communication is a critical and emerging metric for successful outcomes in the high-stakes field of project management. Professional management societies have quantified financial losses caused by ineffective communication. Consulting project management exemplifies a maximum communication risk environment - misunderstanding threatens project finances, strict deadlines, and technical benchmarks - exacerbated by the complexity of a temporary organization structure.

The context of work in a temporary organization adds layers of ambiguity to project communications - an ill-structured domain in technical communication terms. Formal study of communication in temporary organizations is relatively new. Recent studies are derived from engineering and business management perspectives.

This baseline study investigates risk and strategy in temporary organizations from a communication perspective. Project management consultants dialogue about their experiences of project risk and communication strategy in a critical incident interview.

This research identifies the communication complexities of work in these temporary contexts. Contrasting the base communication models of professional project management, this study proposes rhetorical analysis as a systems thinking strategy for project communication. This thesis argues that professional technical communication is strategic expertise and advocates humanistic strategies to mitigate the elevated sociotechnical communication risk within a temporary organization.



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