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Title: Troubles talk as a relational strategy in intercultural teamwork
Author: Debray, Carolin
ISNI:       0000 0004 7431 7481
Awarding Body: University of Warwick
Current Institution: University of Warwick
Date of Award: 2018
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Building good relationships at work is crucial for individual wellbeing and workplace satisfaction. Yet, managing these relationships is far from easy and concerns over relationship management and getting along well are integral to people’s daily lives (Knobloch, 2010). Research indicates that good relationships are particularly scarce in intercultural teams (e.g. Mannix & Neale, 2005; Stahl, Maznevski, Voigt, & Jonsen, 2010), yet little research has been undertaken to investigate just how it is that team members and colleagues get along and how they relate around working together. To address this gap, this thesis draws on 25 hours of interactional data from the meetings of an intercultural team of MBA students recorded over 8 months. Analysis of the transcripts is supplemented by observations and interviews conducted with team members at the start and end of their teamwork. The study investigates one talk activity in depth, troubles talk, that is demonstrated to have played a central role in relating in the team. It explores how rapport management (Spencer-Oatey, 2008) is done in troubles talk across different domains and provides a thick description of troubles talk itself. It also explores the functions troubles talk seems to fulfil for relating in the team including building common ground, a shared perspective, shared norms, empathy, solidarity and trust, team member identity and group mood, in addition to supporting team member coping. The findings reveal that these functions are realised through a number of different strategies that can be used in troubles talk, including: (reciprocal) self-disclosures, troubles humour, swearing, commiserating and developing shared narratives. Troubles talk as such appears as a kind of super-strategy (cf. Brown & Levinson, 1987) in which many other strategies for relating can be embedded, and which seem less permissible in other types of talk. The thesis thus advances our understanding of relational strategies and practices around relating especially in workplace contexts and of troubles talk, a seemingly ubiquitous everyday talk phenomenon. It concludes by proposing some theoretical developments around relating and rapport management and offering recommendations for future research.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Economic and Social Research Council ; Studienstiftung des Deutschen Volkes
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: H Social Sciences (General) ; P Philology. Linguistics