Intertextuality and dynamic communication networks

Business activity can be understood as the interlocking of process chains geared towards value creation. These “value chains”, as Porter (1985) calls them, include the business processes of “research & development”, “procurement”, “production” and “marketing” to “distribution” and “sales” (Jakobs 2008: 16). Business communication can then be understood as all linguistic-communicative processes and parts of activities that occur along such chains, together with all supporting and management activities, as well as the interplay between these (Jakobs 2008: 14: “die Gesamtheit der sprachlich-kommunikativen Prozesse und Anteile von Aktivitaten entlang von Wertschopfungsketten, von unterstutzenden Aktivitaten und von Manage- mentaktivitaten sowie ihr Zusammenspiel”). Within the broad context provided by value chains, many varied contexts of interaction arise. Moreover, varied communication media (e.g., from printed texts to online texts) are interwoven in complex patterns with mutually referential and intertextual modes of communication (e.g., from spoken language to images). Productive and receptive processes too are closely interconnected (Jakobs 2011: 88). Companies face the challenge of making appropriate use of these increasing and increasingly diverse media options in order to create value (Jakobs and Spinuzzi 2014).

Thus, for business communication, “integrated” means not just something like “consistent in terms of content and language” (see Section 3.1), but also “coordinated and aligned among the different media”. Achieving this requires management of a large number of new text types (such as diverse kinds of hypertext) and forms of communication (such as Twitter and Facebook). It also, and above all, requires systematic treatment of intertextuality and the dynamic processual communication networks arising from it (Jakobs 2011; in a similar vein, Adamzik 2011). The task of applied linguistics is therefore to examine how and why such networks, or variants of networks, come into being, and how they can be described and evaluated with regard to the patterns they manifest (e.g., with regard to hierarchies, role model functions, acceptance or usability; Jakobs 2011: 90-91).

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