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Le travail de rédaction d'un rapport d'évaluation environnementale : entre mise en scène de savoirs et mise en forme de normes

Abstract : The drafting of an environmental assessment report : knowing in practice and shaping norms

Communication Objective
In the context of this communication, we will focus on the writing an environmental assessment report (or audit report) in a firm specializing in environmental management, industrial hygiene, and environmental engineering. Knowing how to draft this type of document is a skill that is developed through practice. It is also a skill that develops in a context (organizational, relational, and material), which involves rules, norms, established practices and which is ultimately accomplished over the course of materially and socially entrenched activities. Our goal is to describe in detail the interactional mechanisms that generate the development of practical knowledge, in this case the writing of an environmental assessment report.

Communication and organizational knowing: a few theoretical elements
We will approach the development of this knowing from the basis of work grouped under the term "Practice-Based Studies" (Charreire-Petit and Huault, 2008; Corradi et al., 2010; Nicolini, 2010). The researchers identified with this approach pay particular attention to the emerging nature of knowing in order to identify their embodiment in speech, their inscription into the artifacts, and their stabilization in practices (Nicolini et al., 2003; Svabo, 2009). By subscribing to both the extension of "Practice-Based Studies" and the work resulting from the "Communicative Constitution of Organization" approach, (Putnam and Nicoreta, 2009) we integrate a communicative dimension to the study of knowing created in an organizational context. The communication is approached as a process whereby individuals, through their interactions, constitute a material and social reality that they negotiate, structure, and share. This way of thinking of communication is compatible with a practical epistemology, such as that adopted by researchers associated with "Practice-Based Studies," while also allowing the addition of a communicative dimension which remains relatively unexplored in the literature to date (Canary and McPhee, 2010). Based on these two sources, we will look at the creation of knowing as: 1) situated in a universe of practices thus related to material and social circumstances in which they are actualized, 2) distributed across various human and non-human entities and, 3) formed through the interaction.

In the context of this research, we have adopted an ethnographic approach in order to observe the actors in action. We observed a work session between a certified consultant and a novice consultant, whose method of drafting environmental assessment reports is more recently acquired. This session was filmed and recorded in order to analyze the interactional dynamics of the production of a report. This observation was supplemented by interviews with the consultants involved, and the analysis of documents produced before, during, and after the work session. The recorded exchange was transcribed in an attempt to better account for both the words and actions (gestures, manipulation of objects, and inscriptions) which occurred throughout the exchange. Our analytical method, while focusing on the conversational sequencing, tends to also account for the manipulation of objects (Brassac et al., 2008; Iedema, 2007).

Empirical elements and a few conclusive lessons
In the present case, the client is a Canadian association who commissions the firm of consultants to carry out an environmental assessment of a waste treatment center. In fact, the waste treatment center affiliated with the association is required to undergo an evaluation process on a regular basis to keep its accreditation. To obtain this accreditation, it is committed to protecting the environment by adopting principles of management which are considered to be responsible. This forces the center of waste management to take preventive measures to protect health and the environment. One of the consultants' duties is thus to provide the association with a comprehensive report and comment the health status of a particular natural area. This task requires a particular expertise to identify, prioritize, combine, and organize a variety of qualitative and quantitative data on the bio-physico-chemical and environmental properties of a given territory. It also requires editorial expertise to allow the client to navigate through agglomerates of numerical values, including annexes, enumerated in the more 'written' texts and documents (regulations, protocols, or other administrative documents). The overall analysis of the working session between the two consultants is used to identify several episodes supporting the development of editorial knowledge in action. This knowledge is co-developed throughout the meeting, and is embodied in the inscriptions, annotations, narratives, rules, and decisions of actions. However, this area of work and discussion surrounding the creation of the report also proves to be both a staging area of the contractual relationship between the Canadian association and the consulting firm, and a space within which norms of writing emerge and are negotiated.
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Contributor : Compte Laboratoire Geriico <>
Submitted on : Tuesday, July 2, 2013 - 1:30:40 PM
Last modification on : Wednesday, July 10, 2019 - 5:06:01 PM


  • HAL Id : hal-00840378, version 1



Sylvie Grosjean, Luc Bonneville. Le travail de rédaction d'un rapport d'évaluation environnementale : entre mise en scène de savoirs et mise en forme de normes. Communiquer dans un monde de normes. L'information et la communication dans les enjeux contemporains de la " mondialisation "., Mar 2012, France. ⟨hal-00840378⟩



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