A descriptive study of perceived and assessed business letter writing problems of bankers in branch locations

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Virginia Tech

The study investigated business letter writing problems within the banking profession. It identified difficulties in letter writing aspects that bankers perceive; and it investigated the relationship of those perceived difficulties to assessed deficiency aspects in letters the bankers had written. A literature review revealed studies that addressed origination of business letters. These studies typically utilized either a survey of groups involved with writing or an analysis of completed letters. This raised the question of possible outcomes in combining the two approaches within a work setting.

A Q-sort technique was used to determine perceptions of 15 branch location bankers concerning difficulty of 40 composition and 40 technical letter writing aspects. The bankers ranked the following composition aspects highest in difficulty: legalese; persuasion techniques; refusal conveyance; unfavorable news conveyance; conflict resolution; and direct versus indirect approach. They ranked the following technical aspects highest in difficulty: infinitives (split); sentence syntax; antecedents of pronouns; wordiness (excessive); dangling participles; and preposition usage.

The bankers answered a survey concerning their access to training and instruction in business letter writing. Each banker submitted four recently originated business letters. Composition aspect deficiencies within bankers' submitted letters were assessed by a panel of post secondary business communication instructors. Combined grammar-checking software and researcher screening determined deficiencies for technical aspects of the letters. A total of 900 non-repetitive deficiencies were assessed in the 60 letters submitted -- an average of 15 per letter. comparative percentile rankings showed that perceived difficulties differed most from existing deficiencies in the following aspects: composition -- (perceived difficulties greater) refusal conveyance and euphemisms, (assessed deficiencies greater) sentence construction and letter organizing/structuring; technical -- (perceived difficulties greater) split infinitives and dangling participles, (assessed deficiencies greater) spelling and pronoun usage.