Relational Practice in Meeting Discourse in New Zealand and Japan: A Cross-Cultural Study [thesis]

Kazuyo Murata
<p><b>This thesis explores Relational Practice in meetings in New Zealand and Japan, focussing in particular on small talk and humour which can be considered exemplary relational strategies. It examines these two areas of Relational Practice, firstly in terms of their manifestations in New Zealand and Japanese meetings, and secondly in terms of the ways they are perceived in the context of business meetings.</b></p> <p>This research takes a qualitative approach to the data analysis and employs
more » ... neo-Politeness approach to the analysis, a modified version of standard Politeness Theory. The concepts of Relational Practice and community of practice also proved to be of fundamental value in the analysis. Two kinds of data were collected: firstly meeting data from 16 authentic business meetings recorded in business organisations in New Zealand and Japan (nine from a New Zealand company and seven from a Japanese company). Secondly, perception data was collected in Japan using extended focus group interviews with Japanese business people (a total of six groups from three business organisations).</p> <p>The research involves a contrastive study using interactional sociolinguistic analytic techniques to examine manifestations of small talk and humour in meeting data collected in different contexts. The first phase of the study is cross-cultural, comparing meetings in New Zealand and Japan, and adopting a combined etic-emic approach. The second phase of the study analyses and compares the use of small talk and humour in different types of meetings, i.e. formal meetings (known as kaigi in Japanese) and informal meetings (known as uchiawase/miitingu in Japanese) in New Zealand and Japan. A further aim is to explore how Japanese business people perceive New Zealand meeting behaviours in relation to small talk and humour and to consider what might influence people's perceptions of these aspects of relational talk.</p> <p>The analysis of the authentic meeting data indicates that the important role of Relational Practice at work is recognised in both New Zealand and Japanese meetings, although the data also highlights potentially important differences in manifestation according to the community of practice and the type of meetings. The data demonstrates that Relational Practice is constructed among meeting members discursively and dynamically across the communities of practice and the kinds of meetings.</p> <p>The analysis of the perception data indicates that while Japanese business people do not have identical evaluations of the manifestation of any particular discourse strategy, their perceptions are mostly similar if they work in the same workplace. The data also demonstrates that the participants' international business experience influences their perceptions. Furthermore the analysis indicates that manifestations of small talk and humour in New Zealand meetings are not necessarily evaluated by the Japanese business people in the same or similar way as by New Zealand people.</p> <p>Through both the analysis of the meeting and perception data, this study indicates that people's linguistic behaviours and perceptions regarding Relational Practice are influenced not only by underlying expectations of their community of practice but also by those of the wider society in which the community of practice is positioned.</p>
doi:10.26686/wgtn.17011271.v1 fatcat:rqaj7gd4vvdqvdvfdb2ornt4lu