Ethnography of Communication on an Offshore Oil Platform: Bridging Organizational Communication to ESL Pedagogical Practices

By Shahrina Md Nordin and Roselind Wan.

Published by The International Journal of Adult, Community and Professional Learning

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This study employs an ethnography of communication approach to capture the organizational culture and its cultural behaviour, as the approach acknowledges the link between language use and its cultural context. The purpose of the study is to obtain a description of the communicative processes and events in a homogenous speech community on an isolated offshore oil platform. An offshore oil platform is a restricted area that requires a safety license to be onboard, where the workforce has its own identity shaped by their working condition and organizational culture. The almost 300 employees stay together on the oil platform for a two-week duration, away from their families, forming a distinct community with the purpose to attain the organizational production goal. The researcher stayed on the oil platform for three weeks to collect data based on participant observation and interviews. The unit analysis of this study is the communicative events, as communication in a community can be categorized into different kinds of events with different behavioral norms. The findings provide a rich insight into the communicative events on an offshore oil platform, within its unique organizational culture. The communication processes and events described will give a glimpse of the organizational subcultures, which include power distance, stress management, organizational commitment, and work culture. This crossdisciplinary paper about organizational communication and teaching English as second language will conclude with significant key take-aways for pedagogical implications. The discussion on the pedagogical implications, with the underlying theoretical framework of TBLT (task-based language teaching), contributes significantly to the body of literature and to language teachers, as it is based on an authentic research findings in a restricted working area beyond the classroom.

Keywords: Ethnography of Communication, Communicative Events, Communication on the Oil Platform, Teaching English as Second Language, Task-based Language Teaching

The International Journal of Adult, Community and Professional Learning, Volume 19, Issue 1, pp.47-57. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 830.958KB).

Dr. Shahrina Md Nordin

Associate Professor, Management and Humanities, Universiti Teknologi PETRONAS, Tronoh, Perak, Malaysia

Shahrina Md Nordin is an associate professor in the area of communication. She did her PhD in the field of second language education at Universiti Sains Malaysia and her Masters in teaching English as second language at Universiti Teknologi Malaysia. Her current research interests are in organizational communication, corporate communication, and stakeholder communication. Her publications often link these communication studies to second language education, making her an advocate of crossdisciplinary studies. She is actively involved as a project leader, principal investigator, or a member to various research projects funded by the federal government, local government, private organizations, and an international company. She is attached to the Management and Humanities Department of Universiti Teknologi PETRONAS (UTP), Malaysia and is currently on a secondment to the Transformation Office, UTP, holding an administrative position.

Roselind Wan

Lecturer, Management and Humanities, Universiti Teknologi PETRONAS, Tronoh, Perak, Malaysia

Roselind Wan is a lecturer with the Management and Humanities Department, Universiti Teknologi PETRONAS, Malaysia. She held various management positions before joining the university in 2009. Currently, she is teaching an academic writing course to undergraduate students. She is involved in various research projects including a contract research in the Republic of Sudan and in Malaysia. Her reaserch interest is in education, language, and culture.