Date of Award

May 2013

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Dave Clark

Committee Members

Rachel Spilka, Gerald Alred, Dennis Lynch, Scott Graham


Content Management, Global Business Communication, Global Technical Communication, Multilingual Quality, Technical Translation


The field of technical communication (TC) is facing a dilemma. Content management (CM) strategies and technologies that completely reshape writing and translation practices are adopted in an increasing number of TC work groups. One driving factor in CM adoption is the promise of improving quality of multilingual technical texts, all the while reducing time/cost of technical translation and localization. Yet, CM relies on automation and privileges consistency¯an approach that is problematic in global TC with its focus on adapting texts based on the characteristics of end-users.

To better understand the interdisciplinary dilemma of multilingual quality in CM, during my dissertation project I conducted a twelve-month long qualitative case study of multilingual quality at a leading manufacturer of medical equipment who had adopted CM strategies and technologies to create technical texts in several languages three years before my study began. In my study, I drew upon an interdisciplinary theoretical base (genre ecology framework, activity theory, actor-network theory, and Skopos theory) to examine the construction of multilingual quality understandings and approaches by global TC stakeholders who are employees and contractors of the company and the role of CM in their practices.

Examination of the extensive data I collected through observations, interviews, questionnaires, document collection/content analysis, and software exploration uncovered the staggering disconnects in understandings of and approaches to multilingual quality. These disconnects resulted from the lack communication between stakeholders and were promoted by the different relations to CM technology and the mediating work of the new genre, chunks of content. Inhibited knowledge sharing, risk of expertise invisibility and loss, and constrained new ideas about improving multilingual quality were some of the rhetorical, social, and political implications of these disconnects.

As a result of my analysis, I sketched strategies for achieving contextualized multiple-stakeholder approaches to multilingual quality and outlined leadership possibilities for technical communicators in global information development. This analysis provides TC practitioners with strategies for improving multilingual quality in CM contexts; TC educators with ideas for expanding teaching approaches by combining digital and cross-cultural literacies; and TC researchers with opportunities for rhetorical action through critiquing, theorizing, and innovating CM.