Organizational texts at work

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Interest in the analysis of organizational discourse has expanded rapidly in recent years.  It is worth noting that organizational discourse continues to emerge as a prominent area of analysis in the management of organizations. Dorrenbacher et al., (78) says that there is growing evidence that management scholars in the discursive analysis of organizations continue to have unique themes that explore the nature and potential that contribute to the understanding of organizational texts and how they communicate to the publics. Studying organizational discourse entails a range of approaches that have shared interests in the discourse role in the analysis of organizational life. Organizational texts highlight the manner in which language develops the organizational reality instead of offering just a mere reflection. In this case, a discourse can be defined as the structured collection of texts combined with associated practices of document transmission, reception or production. It becomes relevant to study organizational books since it is through their production and dissemination that leads to discourse while at the same time bring organizational elements into the reality, modify them or make them disappear.

Organizational discourse is influenced by how the texts that develop them are produced and why some have more influence than others. Therefore, analyzing the texts becomes a process in which organizational culture can be understood. Corporate rhetoric, on the other hand, is a form of organizational discourse where symbols are analyzed to change the attitudes, beliefs, actions, and values of individuals. Organizational discourse is the structured collection of texts as present in the practices of writing and talking, visual artifacts and cultural representations. Organizations use Websites, advert, and charts, organizational service charters among others to influence individuals into making decisions aligned with the organization’s well being. Such elements are created to bring objects related to the organization into reality once they are disseminated and consumed. Texts signify collections of interactions, information shared through media, or a combination of written forms such as print and electronic media to understand the social construction of organizations.

Mautner (45) asserts that organizations exist only when the members create them through discourse. However, organizations cannot be fully evaluated solely on discourse. Notably, the discourse is the primary means through which members of the team develop a coherent social reality that informs the sense of who they are. The daily attitudes and beliefs held by members of an organization combine by what they define as reality significantly influences their discursive practices in which they involve themselves in or in which they become subjected or are exposed. In this regard, the organizational texts serve as actors rather than informers of organizational practices. This is to mean that they do things more than they describe them.

Conversations and Dialogue as a form of organizational discourse

The two describe a set of interactions developed as part of the message or talks that are exchanged between members of an organization. Conversations are structured to happen over time and become interconnected through time.  In this case, texts only exist as part of the same conversation once they become responsive to each other either directly or indirectly. The books offer a rhetoric connection. Moreover, they are developed in a chronological sequence.  Based on this understanding, the resulting actions in organizations are not informed by disconnected utterances or in some cases, isolated texts (Bean et al., 257). Rather, the results come from ongoing textual and linguistic exchanges due to organizational actors that draw on wider discourses while producing discursive objects that can act as resources for further conversations and action.

It is worth noting that texts that make up a conversation are intertextual. For instance, the structures of communications associated with advocating for organizational change are those that have identified the need for the targeted change. Once a discourse perspective is involved, any need for change whether in the political agenda, an environmental shift or an issue within the organization among other needs become a discursive object that once produced can be accessed by other interested actors that support it in reference with other wider discourses particularly profitability or strategic management.

Dialogues in organizations are centered on the mode of communication that creates mutuality through acknowledging others and as an instance of developing interaction. In this respect, dialogue can be perceived as a momentary accomplishment.  Studying dialogues in an organization is an effort to generate new meaning and understanding as well as to create space in which to critique and meditate on the convergent views. Henderson et al., (258) demonstrates how texts acquire significance using dialogue and show the importance in an organization. The transformational dialogue properties, as well as generative, degenerative, can affect the well being of an organization to the extent that they are likely to restore the vitality or contribute to its downfall. Individual scholars have expressed their concerns with the way the topic of concern is downplayed in organizational studies. They further posit the organizations themselves continue to neglect institutional practices that make dialogues accessible in the work place.  In this respect, it is necessary to encourage studies that expand our knowledge and conceptualization of dialogue and thus, understand its practical application in the organizations.

Narratives and Story Telling

Strategic narratives are a compelling story telling the process that explains an organizations background, the future vision and how the employees contribute to it. It becomes a powerful tool to improve the organization’s business.  Such narratives increase an employee’s attachment to the body since they provide a clear link between the organizational strategy and their role. It also guides the decisions the employees make to ensure they are working towards achieving the same goals. Organizations should develop stories that inspire the employees, exciting partners, attract clients and engage influencers.  The text should be precise but comprehensive while still allows room for growth. Moreover, it should define the organization’s vision, communicate the strategy and embody the culture.  The strategic narrative shows the kind of special story about the organizations and who they are, where they have been, where they are currently, and the future. Besides, it shows how the organization creates value in relationships as well as explaining why it exists in its uniqueness. Research shows that individuals think of organizations as people and not as objects.

The IBM strategic narrative acts as the cornerstone of the shared purpose. It is the outcome that indicates that the organization and the customers are working in tandem. The IBM shared purpose referred to as “Building a smarter planet” details the process through which intelligence is infused into systems and processes to make the world smarter. The Narrative posits that if the organization is to build brighter future, it starts the process now. The IBM narrative focuses on ideas and topics in a thematic way. It is a fundamental sense making process and a fundamental way that represents how IBM thinks about the planet as well as the actors involved in making a smarter planet.  In this respect, it is clear that due to its contested and constructed nature, it wields importance for the processes and practices of organizing. Ashkanasy et al., (79) posits that despite the current popularity with organizational researchers and consultants, narratives and storytelling are significant events in every organization. And the ability for individuals to identify such texts is likely to be lost in a variety of other discourses used to express information, theories, and opinions that show pre-occupations with rationality, action, and efficiency. Ashkanasy et al., (82) further argues that recently, the concept of the story in particular has become too comfortable. He asserts that what once seemed like an innovative and provocative method to the study of organizations have turned into the accepted norm and unquestioned truth. Therefore, organizations should structure their stories in a manner that does not deny the existence of facts but in ways that allow them to be re-interpreted and embellished.

Rhetoric

Narratives and stories are just one domain of discourse. Studying rhetorical devices entails examining symbols within the organization to determine how they shape messages and subsequent responses.  Several scholars have studied how symbolic and rhetoric devices communicate corporate image and strategy as well as shifting organizations from problematic issues. Rhetoric, therefore, can be defined as the humanistic tradition for studying persuasion. It represents the methods of analyzing symbols to persuade others to change their attitude, beliefs actions and values.  The main focus of organizational rhetoric is to identify how text interrelates with changes in attitudes of the employees as well as the customers.  Concerns regarding regulatory discourses are defined in situations of possibility or uncertainty, for instance, an organization can seek subsidies from a governmental unit but is unable to guarantee the resultant economic advantages to the publics or community. In another case, the rhetoric can be ambiguous such that it fails to communicate its intended need to the audience. Case in point, managers of a hospital, can assert that market forces inform fundamental organizational changes rather than perceiving the anticipated changes as a chance to enhance the underlying values to an efficiency model from an ethic of care (Dorrenbacher et al., 88).

Traditionally, rhetoric devices and symbols in an organization are the texts or speeches presented orally; however, analysis of discrete texts consists of speeches presented orally, mission statements, CEO letters or the corporate architecture. Conversely, critics define the texts as illusions and that they are made up of discursive fragments or scraps of information that loosely cohere that can never come together into a finished product but are packaged for criticism. They are never complete though some appear as finished products.  The tension, therefore, is the focus given to the strong effects of clear messages and the critique of the wider set of discursive methods in the organization. Subsequently, the situation turns analogous to the tension in communication between finding the powerful impact of the complete messages, for instance, advertisements to respond to a particular crisis. On the other hand, the same institution may create large messages or programs to socialize their members.

Tropes

It involves a metaphorical use of a word or expression. Understanding metaphor as a theory is significant to the organization since it shapes the knowledge into a meaningful view of organizational communication. For instance, an individual can view a corporate merger as an organization that shapes or adapts to the environment. On the other hand, a person with a different view can perceive the same corporate merger as the process of organizational demise through environmental selection (Henderson et al., 270).  Tropes form the organizational texts and influence relationships in a variety of ways.  They help to examine the role of metaphors about the organization. In this case, dissonance and discrepancies within the organizations can be identified.

Collection of Data

Some researchers are less interested in particular domains of discourse and rather engage with discourses in organizations through a thorough consideration of underlying methodological approaches. Methodology, in this case, is used as a way of identifying how inquiry proceeds. Several approaches to examining organizational discourse include the description of scientific approaches such as defining and analyzing rhetoric devices. I this particular exercise, data was collected through literature review where several scholars’ perception of organizational discourse was identified and analyzed. Moreover, data was collected from organizational texts such as the IBM shared purpose, advertisements, and conversations within an organization. The main objective was to come up with the issues that dog organizational texts and discourse as well as to identify their importance.

Conclusion

The paper the field or organizational text to understand the discourse and to provide an overview that captures its value, purpose and the univocal nature. The organizational texts contribute significantly towards understanding the organization and explore how it is central to constructing social reality. The texts act as powerful forces in understanding the relationship between the employees and the organization as well as the customers. Notably, despite the identified significance to understanding organizations, the study of discourses remains largely underutilized. Therefore, there is need to integrate the insights of organizational discourse into organizational research to make sense of how the discipline informs change in the organization while maintaining the focus of the organizational goals.

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  1. Dorrenbacher, Christoph, Matthias Tomenendal, and Sarah Stanske. Organizational Identity and Firm Growth: Properties of Growth, Contextual Identities and Micro-Level Processes. ,  2016. Internet resource.
  2. Mautner, Gerlinde. Discourse and Management. Palgrave Macmillan, 2016. Internet resource.
  3. Bean, Hamilton, Laura Lemon, and Amy O’Connell. “Organizational rhetoric, materiality, and the shape of organizational democracy.” Southern Communication Journal 78.3 (2013): 256-273.
  4. Henderson, Alison, George Cheney, and C. Kay Weaver. “The role of employee identification and organizational identity in strategic communication and organizational issues management about genetic modification.” International Journal of Business Communication 52.1 (2015): 12-41.
  5. Ashkanasy, Neal M, Celeste Wilderom, and Mark F. Peterson. Handbook of Organizational Culture & Climate. Thousand Oaks, Calif: Sage Publications, 2000. Internet resource.
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