THE (DIS)ORGANIZING PROPERTY OF COMMUNICATION: ERROR AND INEFFICIENCY IN COORDINATED ACTION
Bisel, Ryan S.
University of Kansas
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This dissertation theoretically characterized and empirically tested the theory that organization arises from within communication. Each chapter is interconnected but written as an independent research report. Organizational discourse research is mature in the sense that much research on talk in the workplace is increasingly similar in its view of the structure-agency debate. Duality arguments are now a common perspective taken by organizational discourse researchers to avoid the problematic dualism of necessarily prioritizing structure or agency. Despite this considerable philosophical maturity, not all duality approaches are created equal. In fact, duality research can be thought of as having developed into two schools--structured in action or acted in structure. Chapter one outlines the characteristics of each kind of research and then discusses methodological and theoretical recommendations as well as implications in light of a growing dualism in duality research. The essence of the philosophical disagreement specified in chapter one is empirically challenged in chapter two. The investigation tested current organizational communication theory, which posits that organization emerges in talk. Three experiments employing a total of 510 participants giving and receiving instructions demonstrated that some features of talk interfered with dyads' and individuals' ability to complete a conjunctive referential communication task accurately and efficiently. The resulting interference created by some features of talk in the accomplishment of a task provided an important revision to the premise that organization emerges in talk--namely, organization may simultaneously dissipate in talk. Testing the emergence of error and inefficiency in organizational talk takes the organization-communication equivalency argument seriously enough to presume that when communication fails, so too does organizing. Furthermore, five recommendations are provided for improving the essential organizational discursive practice of giving and receiving instructions. Chapter 3 concludes the volume by proposing new methodological applications for the collected data. Additionally, new theoretical horizons for organizational discourse theory are described.
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