That third hybrid thing: Locating a disciplinary view of collaboration and a conceptual model for exigency-based collaboration research

Margaret Shepard Morris, Purdue University


This study examines U.S. rhetoric and composition graduate faculty persons' views on collaboration--how they define, theorize, and practice this activity. This study introduces collaboration as a commonplace and as a differing cultural value in two divisions of the university, then in rhetoric and composition's history—before pointing to the need for an exigency-based study of collaboration. Two complementary protocols were used to collect data: an interview instrument with qualitative (narrative-seeking) questions for co-author pairs and an online survey with quantitative (bigger-picture) questions and options for explanation. The protocols are designed for replication or re-use by researchers in other sites, contexts, and disciplines. The study's aggregated data show that the survey participants all use language—along a process-to-product continuum—to orient their view of co-authoring. Their theoretical bases for collaboration are singularly divergent, which further supports the consociation-exigency approach for studying collaborations by showing each collaboration as a unique event influenced by its actors and stemming from a kairotic exigency. The study examines the participants' diverse (and sometimes limited) agency in collaborating for their own research/career development, and their similar ideas about what it means to teach collaboration in the classroom, as well as looking at how collaboration is individually and institutionally valued within the sample. In Chapter 4, a conceptual model, the Consociation-Exigency Model of Collaboration (CEMC), is posited as a potential tool for identifying and studying collaboration, according to its actors, influences, and exigency. Participants do exercise some agency in choosing and shaping how they collaborate, but several areas of external influences also bear on the shape of particular collaborations. This conceptual model points researchers toward a flexible, data-driven framework, to account for the complexity of collaboration and acts of co-authoring. The model has potential for use in all fields of knowledge creation, should collaboration researchers repeat the protocols of the study and map collaborative events using spheres of influences (or consociations) and identifying where those influences converge to answer an exigency, resulting in a unique mode and outcome of the collaboration. Armed with knowledge of a disciplinary view of collaboration and the conceptual model posited, researchers in rhetoric and composition, as well as in the humanities and science, may push forward in a search for new ways of extending knowledge through collaboration and co-authoring, as well as creating clearer rewards and necessary supports for those who engage in co-authoring for professional development and teaching in the Academy.




Rose, Purdue University.

Subject Area

Rhetoric|Higher education

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