Organization and Management Theory OMT

CFP: EGOS 2021 Sub-theme on Organizing Difference via Communicative Constitution of Organization and Discourse Perspectives

  • 1.  CFP: EGOS 2021 Sub-theme on Organizing Difference via Communicative Constitution of Organization and Discourse Perspectives

    Posted 25 days ago

    The convenors of EGOS 2021 (virtual conference) sub-theme #55, entitled Organizing Difference: Communicative Constitution of Organization and Discourse Perspectives, encourage you to submit your work.


    Here's the CFP:

    In organizational scholarship and practice, the focus on difference, diversity, and alternative ways of organizing is growing, particularly in relation to grand societal challenges (e.g., refugee crises, climate issues, scarcity of resources, demographic changes and identity politics). Whereas organizational concerns with differences (e.g., capability, gender, ethnicity, work routines, organizational forms) may imply culturally produced distinctions and boundaries, ideals of organizing more responsibly or inclusively are manifesting, for example, in Human Resource Management (HRM) or Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) policies and practices. However, while such organizational initiatives often draw upon differences or diversity via an appeal to the 'business case,' they may also simultaneously (re-)produce distinction-drawing categories, identity markers, and organizational boundaries (Ashcraft & Mumby, 2004; Plotnikof et al., forthcoming). Hence, emerging organizational responses to such issues may create both inclusion and exclusion; membership and othering; new collaborations and precarious identity work; as well as spanning old boundaries and building new ones.
    This sub-theme is inspired by the notion of difference – or différance, as philosophers like Derrida stress: "The activity or productivity connoted by the a of différance refers to the generative movement in the play of differences" (Derrida, 1982: 28). That invites us to explore the play of difference as an ongoing and productive dynamic, rather than a resting or static state. This implies that difference can constitute manifold organizational phenomena – from diversity management and inclusion, to multiple or resisting voices, to deviance or alternative ways of organizing. Nevertheless, what is identified as 'difference' (whether that be individuals, groups, organizational forms, or ways of living) is often contrasted to an idea(l) of a more fixed 'normal', dominant order of the day.
    In challenging this binary way of thinking, a branch of organization studies concerned with discourse and the communicative constitution of organization (CCO) critically explores how multiplicity, difference, or plurivocity engender and co-constitute everyday life in organizations and organizing processes (Cooren et al., 2011; Phillips & Oswick, 2012). In addition to interrogating formal structures, decision making, and strategizing (Hardy & Thomas, 2014; Kuhn, 2012; Vásquez et al., 2018), this research field also emphasizes the messy, paradoxical, gendered, alternative and new aspects of organizing – but often not as a demarcated boundary between 'normal' and 'abnormal' organization.
    Instead, these studies stress the dynamic, co-constitutive relations of, for example, power, resistance, and authority (Frandsen et al., 2016; Mumby & Plotnikof, 2019; Thomas & Hardy, 2011); of alternative, entrepreneurial, or networked forms of organizing (Bencherki & Cooren, 2011; Del Fa & Vasqués, forthcoming; Ybema et al., 2012); of organizational gendering, racializing and othering (Ashcraft & Mumby, 2004; Thomas & Davies, 2005; Trittin & Schoeneborn, 2017); and of contradictory, paradoxical, even disordered disorganization (Putnam et al., 2016; Vásquez & Kuhn, 2019). This research branch, then, questions a priori distinctions and boundary-drawing of organizational difference/sameness, inclusion/exclusion, formality/informality, and order/disorder. Rather, it relocates focus to relationality, imbrications, tensions, and entanglements to theorize and empirically explore their dynamic role in communicatively constituting organizational meanings, materials and practices. It is interested in understanding how difference organizes in and through communication.
    Extending this body of thought, this sub-theme calls for papers that conceptualize, investigate, analyze and unpack the discursive and communicative constitution of organizational inclusivity, difference, diversity, or alternatives. We invite papers that either address the more particular focus of the sub-theme or are concerned with studying organization and organizing from a communication-centered lens more generally. Below is a list of indicative, but not exhaustive, topics and questions:

    ·        How are organizational practices and plays of difference manifesting – and how does a communication and/or discourse perspective contribute to understanding this emergence?

    ·        How might we conceptualize efforts to induce organizational inclusivity across boundaries (e.g., activist groups shaping corporate policy) from a communicative and/or discursive perspective?

    ·        Which dynamics or struggles of power, resistance, paradoxes, and dis/ordering tensions are emerging with new economies, alternative ways of organizing and social movements?

    ·        How can we explore the shadows, dark sides and interstices of existing and new organizational realms – which dynamics or tensions create new forms of dis/organized difference?

    ·        What new communicative and/or discursive conceptualizations are developing to grapple with the constitutive processes of difference, multiplicity, and relationality in organizational life?




    Mie Plotnikof

    Aarhus University, Denmark


    Timothy R. Kuhn

    University of Colorado Boulder, USA


    Dennis K. Mumby

    University of North Carolina, USA