There is no organization without individuals. There is no communication without individuals. Still, organization studies necessarily emphasize the organization or organizing and happily neglect the individual. Individuals only enter the picture through the backdoor of membership. Thus, it is not the individuals who make up the organization but the negotiated roles they take on to participate in communication.
McPhee & Zaug (2000) point to membership negotiation. Luhmann (2000) recalls March & Simon (1958) in a similar vain when he points out that individuals are part of the organizational environment. And now the Montreal School as one of the three pillars of CCO thinking (Schoeneborn et al., 2014) moves on the idea of membership with a conception of contributorship. You’ll find the article of Bencherki and Snack on Contributorship and Partial Inclusion: A Communicative Perspective behind the paywall of the online-first section over at the Management Communication Quarterly.
- Luhmann, N. (2000). Organisation und Entscheidung. Opladen: Westdeutscher Verlag.
- March, J. G., & Simon, H. A. (1958). Organizations. New York, NY: Wiley.
- McPhee, R. D., & Zaug, P. (2000). The Communicative Constitution of Organizations: A Framework for Explanation. Electronic Journal of Communication, 10(1/2).
- Schoeneborn, D., Blaschke, S., Cooren, F., McPhee, R. D., Seidl, D., & Taylor, J. R. (2014). The Three Schools of CCO Thinking: Interactive Dialogue and Systematic Comparison. Management Communication Quarterly, 28(2), 285–316.
In organizational studies, we frequently say that change is the only constant. I don’t really know who said this to begin with, and it really doesn’t matter, but change really is the only constant, not least because any communication event or episode is new another next first time (Garfinkel, 2002). How, then, do we go about change? From a CCO-friendly perspective, there is conversations of change (Ford & Ford, 1995), organizational becoming (Tsoukas & Chia, 2002), etc. And now there is even a virus to bring about change. Forthcoming in the International Journal of Technology Management (which, to be honest, I never read before) is an article by Steffen Roth on Growth and Function: A Viral Research Program for Next Organizations. It relies heavily on Luhmann, so be careful to put on your thinking cap before immersing yourself in the constructivist thought of viral change.
- Ford, J. D., & Ford, L. W. (1995). The Role of Conversations in Producing Intentional Change in Organizations. Academy of Management Review, 20(3), 541–570.
- Garfinkel, H. (2002). Ethnomethodology’s Program: Working out Durkheim’s Aphorism. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.
- Tsoukas, H., & Chia, R. (2002). On Organizational Becoming: Rethinking Organizational Change. Organization Science, 13(5), 567–582.
The idea of a communicative constitution of organization (CCO) has led to a number of special issues in communication and organization studies over the past years (e.g., Management Communication Quarterly, 2010, Vol. 24, Issue 1; Organization Studies, 2011, Vol. 32, Issue 9). Communication Research and Practice has a call for papers out for a special issue on discursivity, relationality, and materiality. The deadline for submission is April 1, 2016. So go, get your manuscript ready.