How Management Professors Write

Lisa Nelson, D.Sc.
Visiting Instructor of Management

Quick Facts

Favorite place to write?
A 35-year-old rust-colored velvet chair that belonged to my late grandmother.

Favorite word?
The pop culture fanatic and marketing major in me appreciates a nice portmanteau–except when it comes to names, like J-Lo and Brangelina.

What are you reading now?
“The Name of the Rose” by Umberto Eco.

SJU Writes: What types of writing do you do normally?
LN: The majority of my writing is academic. So, right now, I’m writing chapters on a historical figure in management, Mary Parker Follet, and the theories, concepts and philosophies she has espoused.

The other types of writing are very operational: writing for students and crafting emails in a way so that you are giving instruction and guidance.

SJU Writes: What’s the best thing you’ve ever written?
LN: The best thing I ever wrote was probably in the first grade. I had to write about why my mom was the best mom in the world. That was good. You scoff, but I would argue that some of the best things that I ever wrote were very early in my appreciation for language.

I would also say my rejection letters.You have to walk the fine line between saying “You’re not right for this particular job” and “Here’s some coaching and encouragement because you’re going to do it someday!”

SJU Writes: What or who have been some of your greatest influences?
LN: My sophomore English teacher, Gene Ann Bradley. She didn’t just teach me how to use a semicolon. She taught me all the interesting aspects of language and how to use language. I appreciate the teachers who taught me how writing and language can serve justice. I would say a transformational experience for me was reading Richard Wright’s Native Son. As I moved on in college, I started to read more and more experiential books. I started to read more about writing for social justice, writing for purpose and writing for activism. I would not call myself an activist, but I appreciate the use of language in that regard.

SJU Writes: What advice do you have for students learning to write in your discipline?
LN: Simplify and be patient. One of the elegant things about business writing is that it’s a whole different skill. When you learn creative writing, you learn clever and florid language, imagery and impact. Business writing, in my view, and some people think I’m nuts for it, can be just as exciting. You are writing for impact; you are writing to illicit a reaction. You should leave your reader energized and ready to act. Describe, theorize, analyze and recommend.  But I think students need to be patient with themselves. We’re taught in school to be elaborate and expressive, whereas in business writing we’re taught to do the same, but with more pertinence. It takes time.

—Michael Kokias, ’19