Applying corpus linguistics to management research: The case of professionalism

Timothy S. Clark, William J. Crawford, Luke D. Plonsky

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Corpus linguistics research entails analyzing naturally occurring texts (i.e., corpora) to uncover patterns and derive insights from actual uses of language. Corpus linguistics research is descriptive in nature, seeking to better explain the structure and use of language, and can be applied to a variety of fields. We provide an overview of corpus linguistics and apply the methodology to management research in this case study of actual usage of the word professionalism. Using the 450-million-word Corpus of Contemporary American English (COCA), we analyze collocations (i.e., word-pairings), colligation (i.e., grammatical structures), and register patterns (e.g., newspapers vs. academic writing) for insight into the range and clarity of the meanings of the term professionalism. Triangulating data from all three analyses, our results show that the semantic preference of professionalism is highly positive and that the term is associated with a wide variety of concepts. We discuss our findings in light of a proposed model of professionalism (Clark, 2012) and reflect on the utility of this methodology for a range of other research inquiries in management.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)65-78
Number of pages14
JournalInternational Journal of Business Research
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2013


  • Corpus linguistics
  • Professionalism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Economics, Econometrics and Finance
  • General Business, Management and Accounting


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