Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2011

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Communication

First Advisor

Timothy R. Kuhn

Second Advisor

Michele Jackson

Third Advisor

Patricia Sullivan

Abstract

Reaching beyond traditional conceptions of the relationship between communication and organization, scholars studying the communicative constitution of organization (or CCO) are charting new intellectual territory. They aim beyond a transmission view (where communication is understood to express already existing organizational realities), beyond an interpretive view (where the emphasis is on what members understand organizations to be and communication is viewed as the medium through which members' develop shared understandings), and endeavor to articulate a constitutive view (where communication practices are treated as prior to and generative of organizational meaning and reality). Given these goals, is not surprising that CCO scholars have gravitated towards intellectual paradigms that are located outside of the more traditional approaches (e.g. positivism, interpretivism). More specifically, they have consistently preferred a social constructionist approach, in general, and a practice-based approach, in particular. This approach has resulted in valuable theoretical advances in terms of our understanding about the fundamental role that communication practices play in the constitution of organization. Scholarly attention to the methodological dimensions of this work, however, has been greatly lacking. My project aims to highlight the importance of this dimension, arguing that more deliberate consideration of methodological issues is a crucial part realizing the promise that practice theory holds for understanding CCO. Responding to this imperative, I identify a practice theory that is common in CCO scholarship (Giddens' structuration theory, 1979, 1984) and I develop a carefully-considered methodological model for researchers employing this theory. I then pilot this model in an empirical study of an organization in a US university--an organization whose purpose is to coordinate the technology activities of diverse constituents (academic, administrative, and technical). Using the methodological framework I developed to guide my analysis (a critical discourse analysis), I examine the competing discursive practices of various organizational constituents and describe how these both reproduce and revise particular organizational realities (and the shared knowledge underlying these realities).

Included in

Communication Commons

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