CCO and Performativity

As this seems to be the time of the year when we begin thinking ahead to next summer’s conferences, I thought I would make a plea for a track I am co-convening at next year’s EGOS conference in Montreal. I do not wish to put our track on performativity forward as a rival to the CCO track that colleagues are involved with, indeed, I think that will be an excellent track and intend submitting a paper myself. I just want to make you aware that Sub-Theme 53: Organizing performativity: Bridging theory and practice within and across organizations may also be a home for research that delves deeper into how communication constitutes organization from a performativity perspective.

I think CCO and performativity have much in common, but I also think there are different emphases that would be fruitful to explore; like performativity’s concern with how formal theories and models influence and shape activity. Performativity’s original exposition was by the philosopher J. L. Austin, who’s primary concern was with how certain utterances create reality; such as, during the naming ceremony of a ship, when the utterance “I name this ship ___” is spoken alongside the smashing of a bottle on the ship’s hull. The ship is named through words spoken and an act undertaken. Incidently, in the UK the naming of a ship can only be carried out by a females – males are not allowed to name ships, I don’t know why this is, or if it is the same in other countries?

Austin distinguished the performative nature of language from those utterances that do not create but merely describe; such as the expression “it is raining” – a French colleague of mine believes that saying “it is raining” in the UK does indeed cause rain to fall, but I think that says more about the weather in UK than any serious challenge to the performativity thesis.

I feel there is a good debate to be had exploring the commanilities and differences between CCO and performativity that would benefit both communities. Anyhow, please feel free to contact me for an early discussion if you are interested in putting a paper to our track (Alex.Wright@open.ac.uk). And if not, I hope to meet as many of you as possible in the track that Dennis, Francois and Timothy will run.


One Comment on “CCO and Performativity”

  1. Steffen says:

    Sounds like another EGOS track to look forward to, Alex. The ideas of a communicative constitution of organization and performativity are closely related, indeed, not least because organizations are talked into existence, to use the words of Taylor.

    As for the naming of a ship, Wikipedia says that it is always a woman who names a ship; apparently, a male is a bad omen, a belief that goes back to the Roman empire.

    Looking forward to many more posts, maybe even exploring the commonalities and differences between CCO and performativity?!


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