A common feature of most organization-as-communication approaches is a processual view on organizational formation and reproduction, emphasizing the inherently precarious character of even the most bureaucratic organizations. But what about loose social collectives, such as online communities, terrorist networks, or hacker collectives? Is the notion of ‘organization’ useful for describing such fluid social collectives at all?
In a recent article published in the Journal of Management Studies (JMS)*, Leonhard Dobusch and Dennis Schoeneborn suggest using the term ‘organizationality’ for a gradual differentiation of social collectives regarding the degree to which they achieve the status of organizational actorhood. In the authors’ view, one crucial precondition of organizationality is the accomplishment of some form of collective identity through speech acts (“identity claims”) that try to delineate – and thus attribute – what the social collective is or does.
To address the research question on how identity claims contribute to the communicative constitution of fluid social collectives as organizational actors, Dobusch and Schoeneborn mobilize a ”communicative constitution of organizations” (CCO) perspective. Empirically, the authors are investigating the case of the “hacktivist” (i.e., hacker activist) collective Anonymous. Their study contributes to organization studies by showing that fluid social collectives (such as Anonymous) are able to temporarily reinstate organizational actorhood through the performance of carefully prepared and staged identity claims.
* Full reference: Dobusch, L., & Schoeneborn, D. (2015). Fluidity, Identity, and Organizationality: The Communicative Constitution of Anonymous. Journal of Management Studies, 52(8), 1005-1035 (the article is available open access until December 4, 2015).
Round Table Discussion of the Paper Development Workshop (PDW) Investigating the Constitutive Role of Communication for Organization and OrganizingPosted: October 3, 2015
As mentioned in a previous post the new EGOS Standing Working Group had a happy launching at the 2015 colloquium. This started, on July 1, with the pre-colloquium Paper Development Workshop (PDW) Investigating the Constitutive Role of Communication for Organization and Organizing organized by Michael Etter, Nicolas Bencherki, and Consuelo Vasquez. The PDW brought together a total of 36 junior and senior scholars for vivid conversations on how to further advance their research projects and papers. During the PDW Linda Putnam (University of California Santa Barbara), Cliff Oswick (Cass Business School) and Dan Kärreman (Copenhagen Business School) shared their thoughts and reflection on the challenges and new avenues of communicative and/or discursive approach to study organization and organizing. The video of this round table discussion and the Q&R that followed is now available.
CfP EGOS 2016 – Sub-theme (no.16) Organization as Communication: (Dis)organizing through Texts, Artifacts and Other MaterialitiesPosted: October 3, 2015
Following the official launching in 2015 of our Standing Working Group (SWG) “Organization as Communication”*, we are very happy to announce the sub-theme for the 2016 Colloquium of the European Group of Organizational Studies (EGOS) that will take place in Naples (July 7-9, 2016).
The sub-theme (no. 16) entitled “Organization as Communication: (Dis)organizing through Texts, Artifacts and Other Materialities” will be convened by Paul Leonardi, Tim Kuhn and Consuelo Vasquez. As you will see from the Call for Papers this sub-theme places a special focus on materiality and (dis)organizing. This said, we also invite conceptual or empirical papers that more generally apply a communication-centered or discursive lens to study organizational phenomena.
We are very much looking forward to your submission (short paper, 3000 words) by January 11, 2016.
Please find the full Call for Papers below – and via this website
In case of any questions, please contact: email@example.com
With kind regards,
Paul, Tim and Consuelo
*PS: For more information about our SWG click here.
Sub-theme 16: (SWG) Organization as Communication: (Dis)organizing through Texts, Artifacts and Other Materialities
This sub-theme is concerned with the fundamental, constitutive, and formative role of communication for organizing and organizations (including works that follow the “Communication Constitutes Organization” or “CCO” perspective). One way to reflect on this constitutive role of communication is to focus on the material dimension of communication, as communicative practices become inscribed in texts, artifacts, bodies, and sites (see Ashcraft et al., 2009). Since the linguistic turn, scholars in organization studies who foreground discourse and communication have been accused of ignoring the physically-embodied bases of organizational reality. The issue is not simply to reassert the importance of the non-discursive, but to transcend the long-standing dualism between the symbolic and the material dimension through novel perspectives on communication (ibid.). This means treating communication and discourse as a constellation of both intersubjectivity and interobjectivity (Latour, 1996; Orlikowski, 2007) and to focus on the co-constitutive entanglement between materiality and social action (Barad, 2003; Leonardi et al., 2012).
In line with these considerations, this sub-theme proposes questioning the (socio)material dimension of communication and its implications for organizing and disorganizing: How is communication or discourse materialized and thus contributes to the stabilization, transformation, and dislocation of organizational phenomena? What particular types/forms of materiality (e.g., texts, bodies, objects, or sites) are constitutive of organization, and how do they take part in organizing? What are the implications of (socio)material perspectives on communication for organization and management studies and practices?
While questions regarding the entanglement of the symbolic and the material are not new (see, e.g., Trist & Bamforth, 1951), extant investigations have typically emphasized either the symbolic or the material character of phenomena, thus (re)creating ontological dualisms that limit their explanatory value. A focus on the constitutive role of (socio) material communicative practices promises two benefits to these bodies of work. First, by highlighting both the material and symbolic dimensions of communication and discourse, analysts can trace the ‘imbrication’ that generates particular organizational forms and processes (Leonardi, 2011). Second, by examining how bodies, texts, artifacts, and sites (among others) contribute to complex and contingent organizing practices – and not merely as drawn upon by human actors – we can gain insight into the accomplishment of both ordering and disordering (Vasquez et al., forthcoming). Taking such a perspective allows us to open the notions of discourse and communication to account for organization as a heterogeneous site of conflicted (socio)material practices (Kuhn, 2012).
We invite papers that question the symbolic-material dualism by drawing on a communicational, narrative, and/or discursive lens on organization and organizing. Papers should seek to explore the (dis)organizing features of (socio)material practices of communication in particular, and/or should aim to address the constitutive relations between communication and organization more generally.
Below is a list of indicative, but not exhaustive, topics and questions related to the sub-theme:
How does (socio)materiality participate in processes of organizing and/or disorganizing? How does sociomateriality constitute, maintain or change work routines and communication patterns? How does it disrupt and/or stabilize organization?
How can we study bodies, technology, artifacts, texts from communication-centered perspectives? What further categories of ‘the material’ (e.g., economic) need to be considered from this perspective?
What can be gained by switching from a focus on the ordering capacities to the disordering capacities of communication? How can (socio)material approaches help reveal disorder, tensions, contradictions, and paradoxes of communication and the constitutive role of these tensions for the communicative constitution of organizations and organizing?
What are the implications of a (socio)material approach to organizational communication and discourse for core topics of organization studies, such as , strategy, leadership, structure, change, or corporate responsibility?
Ashcraft, K.L., Kuhn, T.R., & Cooren, F. (2009): “Constitutional Amendments: ‘Materializing’ Organizational Communication.” Academy of Management Annals, 3 (1), 1–64.
Barad, K. (2003): “Posthumanist Performativity: Toward an Understanding of How Matter Comes to Matter.” Journal of Women in Culture and Society, 28 (3), 801–831.
Kuhn, T. (2012): “Negotiating the Micro–Macro Divide. Thought Leadership from Organizational Communication for Theorizing Organization.” Management Communication Quarterly, 26 (4), 543–584.
Latour, B. (1996): “On Interobjectivity.” Mind, Culture, and Activity, 3 (4), 228–245.
Leonardi, P.M. (2011): “When Flexible Routines Meet Flexible Technologies: Affordance, Constraint, and the Imbrication of Human and Material Agencies.” MIS Quarterly, 35 (1), 147–167.
Leonardi, P.M., Nardi, B.A., & Kallinikos, J. (eds.) (2012): Materiality and Organizing: Social Interaction in a Technological World. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Orlikowski, W. (2007): “Sociomaterial Practices: Exploring Technology at Work.” Organization Studies, 28 (9), 1435–1448.
Trist, E., & Bamforth, K. (1951): “Some Social and Psychological Consequences of the Longwall Method of Coal-Getting.” Human Relations, 4 (1), 3–38.
Vásquez, C., Schoeneborn, D., & Sergi, V. (2015): “Summoning the spirits: Exploring the (dis)ordering properties of organizational texts.” Human Relations.
CfP special issue of M@n@gement « Interconnecting the practice turn and communicative approach to organizing: A new challenge for collective action? »Posted: July 27, 2015
A year ago, a group of scholars (including some of the CCO community) met at the Écoles des Mines, in Paris, for a Diplomatic writing workshop. This workshop was intended to close the 2 years inquiry of the AIME project, led by Bruno Latour and his team (for more details on this workshop and its final conference, see previous posts on 21/07/2014 and 08/08/2014). One of the purposes of the workshop was the writing of a text, called a Specbook (i.e. a specification manual), that would be used to present the “Moderns” to Gaia and to the non-moderns. This Specbook was structured around 4 major “institutions” that the “Moderns”, represented by the participants of this workshop, proposed to re-institute in order to establish a ‘common ground’ for diplomatic negotiation. These ‘re-institutions’ are: ‘Our nature’, ‘Our Politics’, ‘Our Religion’, and ‘Our Economy’. The Specbook was presented and discussed by the “Chargés d’affaires” (B. Cassin, E. Viveiros de Castro, A. Mol, D. Chakrabarty, D. Danowski, P. Weibel, and S. Schaffer ) during the final conference of the AIME project.
The Specbook is now publicly available in English on the AIME platform.
For us interested in organization, I recommend reading primary ‘Our Politics’ and ‘Our Economy’. The first one proposes to ‘deflate’ politics by redefining it in terms of ‘“I can live with that…”; “we can live with that…”, which foregrounds a new ontology for how we negotiate the constitution of the ‘we’. The second one proposes to ‘slow down the economy’ by reconsidering the ‘price’ of attachement and care and by inscribing the possibility of disorder in organizational scripts.
The last activity related to the AIME project is scheduled for April 2016 and will consist of and exposition at the ZKM Karlsruhe entitled ‘Reset Modernity‘.
The European Group of Organizational Studies (EGOS) Colloquium in Athens/Greece (July 1-4, 2015) featured the launch of the new Standing Working Group “Organization as Communication” (OaC). The launch involved a number of activities:
- The pre-colloquium Paper Development Workshop (PDW) Investigating the Constitutive Role of Communication for Organization and Organizing on July 1 (organized by Michael Etter, Nicolas Bencherki, and Consuelo Vasquez) brought together junior scholars with more experienced scholars for vivid conversations on how to further advance their resecarch projects and papers (more info on the PDW plus a video of the panel debate involving Linda Putnam, Cliff Oswick, and Dan Kärreman will follow in this blog soon…).
- The sub-theme Organization as Communication: The Performative Power of Talk from July 2-4 (organized by François Cooren, Lars Thøger Christensen, and Dennis Schoeneborn) included a rich set of 36 papers and fruitful debates in the various sessions. As a special feature, Martin Brigham and Donncha Kavanagh used the final paper session for facilitating special meeting format that allowed participants to reflect on the “Sense of the Sub-Theme”. Their meeting minutes offer a nice summary of the sub-theme – you can download them here.
Next year’s EGOS Colloquium in Naples/Italy (July 6-9, 2016) will again include a PDW and a sub-theme organized by the Standing Working Group “Organization as Communication” (the Call for Papers will follow in the fall 2015). We hope to see many of you there (again)!
The upcoming issue of Management Communication Quarterly will feature a forum of several papers that deal with organizational communication and the question of agency. Boris Brummans’ introduction to the forum is already ahead of print, be sure to check it out. Here are his opening remarks:
Agency is central to understanding organizational communication. Yet with the multiplication of perspectives on agency, partly due to recent research on the communicative constitution of organizations, it is becoming increasingly difficult to see the forest for the trees in terms of how to define this construct; how to study it empirically through specific methods; and what the implications of adopting a particular intellectual perspective are.