Organizations as Discursive Constructions

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concerning this article may be directed to the first author at gfairhurst@cinci.rr.com

Abstract

In this article we examine the relationship between discourse and organization. It is a relationship of growing interest in the communication literature as organizations are increasingly framed as discursive constructions. However, such framing appears subject to at least 3 interpretations. First, an organization may be cast as an already formed object with features and outcomes reflected in discourse. Second, organizations may be seen in a perpetual state of becoming through the ways that the properties of discourse shape organizing. Finally, organizations may be grounded in action, anchored in social practices and discursive forms. Moreover, each of these 3 orientations provides a different cast to the terms discourse and Discourses. We use these interpretations and different notions about discourse to explore the research traditions on organizational language and social interaction. We contend that all 3 orientations are necessary and should operate simultaneously to reveal a complex view of the organization-discourse relationship.

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