Rethinking the polyphonic organization: Managing as discursive practice

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Journal Article
Scandinavian Journal of Management, 2006, 22 (1), pp. 3 - 30
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Literary approaches problematize the practice of knowing in relation to managing. Drawing on Kafka, Lyotard, Rorty and others, our overarching objective here is to widen and deepen linguistic approaches to management and organization studies. We elaborate the concept of the polyphonic organization: starting from Kafka's reading of the story of the Tower of Babel, we reflect on polyphony and, using Lyotard's concept of the différend, we explore the linguistic gaps that constitute the polyphonic organization. Interpreting these different language games as a driving force behind organizational sensemaking, we theorize on the connection between change, power and language. Management as a discursive practice focuses linguistically on deconstructing and translating between language games divided by the différend. © 2005 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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