Chapter 2 – Business as a Discourse

The concept of business discourse is a way of communicating within business, professional, and commercial disciplines. Business as a discourse is often deemed to be of a different category from professional or commercial discourse. For our purposes, business discourse is the use of written and spoken word in all relevant media to convey meaning and to accomplish the tasks of a business endeavor.

Business communication, or discourse, is “an organized and managed information exchange, regulated according to certain rules, norms and stereotypes” (Natkho, 2019). The information exchanged, procedures, standards, and stereotypes are unique to each business discipline. If you are an accounting student, the discourse around your chosen discipline will be different from the discourse of real estate or project management. It is important for future business leaders to be aware of the discourse (lexis, lexicon) in your chosen discipline.[1]

Discourse community

Swales (2017) identifies three types of discourse communities: local, focal, and folocal. The local discourse community has members who are collocated together. A group of entrepreneurs in a particular city may have a formal club where they communicate and share knowledge. There may be several entrepreneur clubs across many cities, however, unless they are all affiliated, each would be considered a local business discourse community.

If these same entrepreneur clubs across several cities are affiliated under one umbrella group (such as National Entrepreneurs of America), then the city-based clubs collectively would be considered a focal business discourse community. This is because the national organization has affiliate member clubs across the country that each have rules, standards, perhaps a dues structure, election of officers, etc. under the auspices of the national organization.

Swales names communities with elements of both the local and focal discourse community, folocal. Folocal communities “are hybrid communities whose members have a double—and sometimes split—allegiance, as they are confronted by internal and external challenges and pressures” (2017). Local versus focal demands are at issue here. The Swales example is a department of a research institution. The University of Baltimore is local because students, faculty, and staff are primarily collocated in the same city, and focal because it is an institute of formal education with the common inter-departmental goal of developing professionals in various disciplines. However, if the University of Baltimore is involved in a grant that requires input from various colleges or department, there will be some challenges as it pertains to meeting departmental expectation and objectives and meeting the institutional goals related to the research.[2]

In the business realm, each business discipline has a discourse. and most will be local or focal – local for business organizations, and focal for business associations or groups. What is most important is that business students be able to identify the discourse community that is relevant to their studies or their future business interest.

The common terminology often used to describe the communication in any discourse community is lexis or jargon. The lexicon, or vocabulary of a person or group of people, language, or division of information or knowledge. Of course, there are several lexis at play in modern-era communication – both verbal and written, manual and automated (e.g., electronic communication). The essential element that business students should familiarize themselves with is the lexicon or jargon of their business discipline. The Oxford Dictionary lists dictionary, encyclopedia, glossary, concordance, and thesaurus as some examples of lexis[3]. In business disciplines, the vocabulary may be just as extensive as an encyclopedia, and business students should be aware of the major categories and topics in their discipline so they can begin to master that lexicon.


[1] Natkho, O. (March 2019). Business discourse and its role as an object of business and commercial linguistics. West-East, 1(1), 55-65. DOI:

[2] Swales, J.M. (Fall 2017). The concept of discourse community: some recent personal history. Composition Forum 37. Retrieved from

[3] Synonyms of lexicon in English. Retrieved from



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Discourse Community for Future Business Leaders Copyright © 2022 by Tracy Worley is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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