Can CCO and power be separated?

Can CCO be separated from power?  What I mean by this is for communication to be constitutive must it always be power-infused?  Can CCO be accomplished without any power have been exercised?

I suppose it depends on how power is conceptualised.  Broadly speaking, power can be understood in one of two ways.  As ‘power over’ and as ‘power to’.  ‘Power over’ refers to power as commodity, as possession and manifests in descriptions that locate power as ‘belonging’ to certain roles and individuals – CEOs are commonly seen as having power.  ‘Power over’ power is often associated with acts that get people to do what they otherwise would not want to do – so it tends to have negative connotations.  This is by far the most common conceptualization of power, but it is one that has been challenged.

‘Power to,’ by contrast, frames power as generative, as productive, it posits power as relational rather than as a commodity suggesting that power is something that is exercised in unfolding practice.  ‘Power to’ acts can be traced in all  organizing acts, it is claimed, and can be exercised by anyone in an organization.  This framing of power constructs it as something inherent in CCO.  Indeed, it suggests CCO would not be possible without power being exercised.  This implies it would fruitful for CCO researchers to investigate how power is exercised in CCO contexts, and yet, apart from the work of Timothy Kuhn, I’m not aware that CCO scholars have significantly engaged with power.  Why is this, I wonder?  Is it because CCO scholars have a ‘power over’ understanding of power?  Or, simply that it’s not deemed to be important to how CCO emerges?

Your comments and views on this are welcomed.


The Communicative Constitution of Organization … in Press Releases?

Fellow CCO/OaC scholars, I need your answers on a question: What is a press release? Two thoughts that you may or may not agree with.

First, a company issues a press release to inform its stakeholders or the more general public about some state of affairs (e.g., a change to the board of directors, a recently granted patent, or an acquisition of another company). Arguing from a CCO standpoint, the press release is an initial text that invites others to join the conversation about the company. In yet other words, it is the initial point of the communicative construction of the organization at the very boundary of the company and its stakeholders, the public, etc.

Second, the press release is an (authoritative?) text that originated long before it’s made public as a consequence of the very communicative construction of organization. As such it already reflects the company’s identity—no need to involve others.

I have the feeling that the difference between the first and second thought is the organizational boundary, and a matter of observation or an observer (i.e., us). I’d love to hear your opinions in the comments below!

MCQ forum on OrgCom in the German-speaking countries

In its May 2013 issue, Management Communication Quarterly (MCQ) has published a Special Topic Forum on “Organizational Communication in the German-Speaking Countries” (i.e. Germany, Austria & Switzerland). While in these countries OrgCom lacks a tradition as a field in its own right, the authors give light to specific research traditions as well as recent developments that can fruitfully contribute to international debates in OrgCom. The special topic forum is co-edited by Dennis Schoeneborn (U of Zurich/Copenhagen Business School) and Stefan Wehmeier (U of Greifswald) and has emerged out of the activities of the “Organization as Communication” (OaC) network. Please find the special topic forum here.