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From paper to practice

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This paper examines how a standardized question is launched and received in a corpus of performance appraisal interviews, with a focus on how pre-­formulated questions are translated into interaction. Using conversation analysis, we demonstrate that the same question becomes many different actions in practice. Prefaces as well as prosodic and lexical alterations make relevant different responses, and as such, the question can be recruited to initiate diverse interactional projects such as assessments and other socially delicate activities. As a consequence, goals of uniformity and standardization may be subverted. The interactional adaptations further evidence the strength of recipient design as reformulations also result in more fitted and personalized answers. Our study contributes to the understanding of standardization versus interactionalization, and points to the strong interrelationship between question design and the fitting of response options.
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Keywords: assessment; conversation analysis; performance appraisal interview; question design; standardization; template

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2014

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