Proponents of restorative justice argue that restorative practices are more effective than legalistic practices at addressing detrimental personal and relational outcomes of hurtful behavior. Following this thinking, researchers have argued that restorative justice offers the promise of constructive outcomes in the workplace as well. Yet, when adapted into workplace policies and norms, the potential exists for the use of restorative practices paradoxically to reinforce legalistic organizing structures and practices. Based on interviews with employees at an organization that codified and promoted restorative practices, this study identifies several paradoxes that can occur when engaging in restorative practices within a traditional, bureaucratic organizational structure. The article concludes with a discussion of the implications of these paradoxes for the understanding and practice of restorative justice in the workplace.
This study used Bakhtinean dialogism and contrapuntal analysis to examine how organizational identity in a Christian house church in China emerged through the interplay of competing discourses. I identified three sets of tensions: (a) religiosity versus secularity, (b) profit versus service, and (c) labor versus management. Church organizers and core members used many strategies to mitigate these tensions, including selection, separation, integration, and transcendence. Marginalized workers further complicated this discursive tension in resistance to a managerial monologue. The collective identity of the house church emerged from the interplay of competing discourses and was marked with complexity, contradictions, and dynamism. This research offers empirical evidence of how identity is constructed through interactions among diverse organizational members. It also contributes to the literature by focusing on the resistive voices of workers and subsequently expands the typology of tension management strategies beyond tension reduction and consent.
This article proposes a conceptual framework for dissent dynamics in organizations. We integrate the dissent expression and management framework of Kassing with the dynamic institution composition structure of Saeed and Pavlov to construct a generic model for understanding organizational dissent. Our model hypothesizes the impact of dissent accumulation on organizational dissent climate, composition, and performance. Two performance measures comprise the performance grid to describe the current state of an organization and its dissent management policies—perceived management responsiveness and organizational productivity. We argue that dissent expression, tolerance, and management policies affect whether an organization is high or low performing. The conceptual model provides a future platform for experimentation and learning by simulating different policy scenarios and their influence on the paths of change and the new homeostasis eventually achieved by the organization.
The mass marketization of the luxury industry obligates the industry to be mindful of the social and environmental consciousness of nouveau luxury consumers. To meet complex stakeholder expectations, luxury brands have to manage the dual goals of maintaining their elite branding while staying socially and environmentally responsible. These oppositional endeavors unleash uneasy tensions encapsulated in the notion of the corporate social responsibility (CSR)–luxury paradox. Using theoretical frameworks in paradox management and CSR communication, this study examined how luxury brands discursively navigated the CSR–luxury paradox on their websites. Qualitative content analysis conducted across 43 luxury brand websites revealed two discursive strategies used to manage CSR–luxury tensions: (a) harmonious coexistence of paradoxes and (b) convergence of paradoxes. These active, both-and strategies and corresponding substrategies show specific ways in which CSR–luxury tensions are managed and sustained. The findings are instructive not only for the luxury sector but also for organizations faced with oppositional goals in general.
This study examines the proposed and utilized decision-making processes of an interagency taskforce formed to create a strategic plan for addressing substance abuse concerns. Analysis of data obtained through prolonged observation, interviews, and document collection indicated that, although the planned structure remained relatively intact, the taskforce deviated from planned decision-making processes in the procedures and decision-making criteria utilized. These deviations were justified through retrospective rationality and strategic ambiguity. Although prior research has described decision making using rational, satisficing, and garbage can models, the theoretical implications of this study point to a renewed understanding of collaborative decision making combining these approaches. Ultimately, this study illustrates how the characteristics of a loosely coupled, bona fide interorganizational group both enabled and constrained the decision-making process. Accordingly, practitioners and scholars alike should consider the advantages and limitations of retrospective rationality and strategic ambiguity across a variety of group and organizational contexts.
Guided by emotional response theory (ERT) and Mehrabian’s theory of nonverbal behavior, the current study examined links between supervisor nonverbal immediacy (NI), employee emotion experience, and employee motives for communicating with a supervisor. Analyses of data collected from 608 participants indicated that supervisor NI significantly predicts subordinates’ emotional experience, including emotion work and perceived emotional support. Subordinates are motivated to attain relationally oriented needs from their supervisor, rather than personal influence needs, through their satisfactory emotion experiences in the workplace. Theoretical contributions and suggestions for future research are discussed.
Scholars have long been aware of the advantages of social capital to individual performance. It remains unclear whether these advantages reflect the effects of relationships in which people discuss only work-related issues, or whether they are attributable to the effects of multiplex relationships, in which people discuss work-related and non-work-related issues. To investigate this question, we conducted two studies using network analysis: a cross-sectional study of specialty bank employees and a longitudinal study of middle managers enrolled in an MBA course. Multiplex relationships consistently predicted performance advantages in both samples, whereas work-focused ties that excluded a social dimension did not. Furthermore, when individuals maintained too many multiplex relationships, performance returns diminished. These findings demonstrate that the network literature may benefit from greater specificity on relational content and more attention to the consequences of overlapping networks, in the form of multiplex ties.
"To anticipate and forestall disasters is to understand regularities in the ways small events can combine to have disproportionately large effects." Taking Weick’s observation to heart, we examine teleconference calls between Louisiana local and state officials and federal officials as Hurricane Katrina gathered momentum by applying action-implicative discourse analysis (AIDA). AIDA highlights the linkages between communication dilemmas and communication practices. We analyze "reporting" as a metacommunicative speech act that implicated pragmatic communication dilemmas of how to act in the face of emerging disaster. We explicate how, during the Hurricane Katrina teleconferences, "reporting" shaped and constrained the formulation of problems and responses by creating a structure that facilitated order while inhibiting the identification of and "talking through" of confusion points, and the communicative sharing of local resources. As such, we identify how sensemaking is interconnected with interactional framing. Reporting thus constituted a "small event" that occurred with "regularity" during the Hurricane Katrina disaster.
The organizational landscape is changing for sexual minorities in U.S. workplaces. A dramatic increase in organizational policy protections reflects a broader societal shift toward social acceptance of sexual diversity. However, as participant narratives demonstrate, discrimination and bias are still present in contemporary organizations. As such, sexual minority employees must manage their sexual identities in a changing environment that is rife with mixed messages. In this study, 20 employees from across the United States in a variety of occupations described policies and communication with coworkers as influential to their sexual identity management. Using the framework of the communication theory of identity, gaps between communal frame communication (organizational policy) and relational frame communication (coworker communication) resulted in mixed messages participants had to discursively navigate to manage their sexual identities. Implications for practitioners and scholars are discussed.
This work examines how knowledge-intensive firms that lack strong ties to professional groups, or exclusive jurisdiction in a technical domain, communicate organizational expertise. A practice-based view of organizational expertise is used to examine how workers accomplish expertise through recurrent practices, and the processes through which that expertise becomes performed to clients as organizational expertise. Drawing on fieldwork conducted at two public relations firms, analysis indicates the organizations performed expertise by using representations that demonstrated they provided valuable services that would be difficult for clients to otherwise obtain. Furthermore, the findings reveal how local practices used by workers to produce the representations inside the organizations were obscured to clients to facilitate performances of expertise at the organizational level.
This study explicated Post80s workers’ communicative constructions of work meanings guided by the dialogical self theory. Analyzing 33 in-depth interviews, we found Post80s workers constructed their work meanings regarding choice, development, and impact as they invoked individual and collective voices amid the discursive and material discontinuities and continuities of the emerging Chinese socio-economic landscape. Foregrounding meanings of work as dialogical co-constructions of different voices, the study unpacked the complex interplays of self–other, individual–collective processes, and past–present–future work values and experiences in the communicative constitutions of the Chinese paradigm shift of work. Theoretical contributions to meanings of work as tensional, dialogical constructions answer calls to more nuanced scholarly engagement with individual–organization–society problematics and generational cohorts locally and globally in organizational communication research.
Employee dissent is understood as resulting from unsatisfying organizational states. Dissatisfaction can be felt but not expressed; dissent is the actual performance of disagreement with immediate circumstances. Constructive expression of dissent can have positive consequences, and therefore, much scholarly attention has been drawn to the phenomenon. In this article, we theorize that argumentativeness and verbal aggressiveness influence employee dissent behavior. Our particular contribution is that we hypothesize that these effects are mediated by assessments of the costs and benefits of dissent. We test whether the previously reported direct effects of argumentativeness and verbal aggressiveness are mediated by this cost–benefit analysis. A survey was conducted with undergraduate students and Amazon’s Mechanical Turk participants (N = 817). Structural equation modeling showed that the apparent direct effects of verbal aggressiveness and argumentativeness became insignificant after the mediators were included in the model. We conclude that cost and benefit analysis mediates the main effects.
A number of new organizational structures have emerged in recent years, including peer production networks, digitally organized social movements, and social networking sites (SNSs). Researchers have devoted considerable attention to these phenomena as groups and communities. This article takes a complementary approach by conceptualizing them as organizational forms, with focus on the emergence of SNSs as a distinct organizational form. Community ecology theory is implemented to explicate the emergence and subsequent legitimation of organizational forms, providing a foundation for understanding how new forms emerge through interaction with the surrounding environment. Industry data and historical records are utilized to illustrate the development of one specific form: online SNSs. This analysis demonstrates that legitimation is an ongoing process of replication of features, but legitimacy also occurs through recognition from adjacent populations. Findings illustrate the validity of alternative processes of form legitimacy.
The utility of disaster preparation efforts involving volunteers is axiomatic, but a poor understanding of volunteer responder organizing may waste volunteer effort or, worse, endanger response. Effectively integrating volunteer effort during response necessitates understanding how volunteers figure into preparation, but most disaster research is concerned with best practices for response not preparation itself. Insights regarding the management of the political, rhetorical, and organizational challenges of implementing and evaluating disaster preparation are also needed. This study investigated how volunteer disaster responders—volunteers and volunteer coordinators in multiple Citizen Emergency Response Teams and Medical Reserve Corps—negotiated contradictions among and within institutional logics relevant to disaster preparation to justify their efforts. Their accounts drew on institutional logics of preparation and the professional to do so, and provided evidence of reflexivity about, mobilization of, and reconstruction of these logics—generative praxis that may enable innovation in disaster policy and preparation.
The diagrammatic slideshow constitutes a crucial communicational instrument in management consulting. However, its semiotic implications remain poorly understood. How do consultants create slides that they deem significant? How do they recognize a good slide or an effective diagram? What practical criteria do they use? To tackle these questions, we develop a pragmatist approach based on the theory of signs of Charles S. Peirce. Drawing from data collected through ethnographic participant observation, our study analyzes how a team of consultants drafts a single slide intended to represent the problems of a client organization and assesses the evolving strength of the document. We identify three recurrent conditions of robustness—impact, accuracy, and layout—and discuss them in the light of Peirce’s distinction of iconic, indexical, and symbolic capacities in signification.
Organizational communication theory and research tends to assume the practices of organizational "members" are relevant to the study of organizational phenomena, without reflecting on how those members were identified in the first place. This issue is particularly relevant to perspectives that view communication as constitutive of organizations because they may take the very object they seek to explain—the organization—as the starting point when identifying pertinent informants. We provide a communicational perspective of organizational membership by starting from communicative events, instead of individuals. Ethnomethodology’s notions of accounts and sanctions are useful in recognizing the interactionally performed nature of membership. We extend ethnomethodology’s intuition by viewing membership—which we reframe as contributorship—as being achieved through the contribution of actions to the organization.
Safety rules are unavoidable in hazardous work and are often codified insights from accidents and fatalities. Safety rules research predominantly focuses on factors that influence compliance and violation of rules (a rationalist view), but rarely examines how members draw from safety rules to take action and gain experience. This study draws from and extends an adaptation view of safety rules, which considers how members use safety rules as "tools" to inform action. The study compares how two wildland firefighting workgroups incorporate safety rules into communication practices, and specifically, how they ventriloquize them. From a communication perspective, ventriloquization directs attention to ways safety rules enable members to make sense of hazards, navigate authority, and develop experience. The findings contribute an explanatory workgroup model for how members adapt safety rules into action according to workgroup norms, complementary relationships, and practices, which extends our understanding of adaptive action and learning in hazardous work organizations.
The purpose of this study was to investigate employee perceptions of the influence of communication technology use outside of regular work hours on perceptions of work life conflict, burnout, turnover intentions, and job satisfaction. An online survey of 168 employees from more than 30 companies in a Midwestern city was conducted to assess relationships among these variables. The results indicated that hours of work-related communication technology use outside of regular work hours contributed to perceptions of work life conflict. However, positive attitudes toward communication technologies predicted decreased work life conflict. Controlling for worker age, perceived life stress, and attitudes toward communication technologies, work life conflict was found to predict job burnout and job satisfaction, but not turnover intentions. The authors discuss implications of the study findings for management practices, limitations of the study, and directions for future research.
The continuing development of leadership research calls for measurement instruments that can tap into the communication process between leaders and members. The purpose of this present research is to develop and validate a Leader–Member Conversational Quality (LMCQ) scale—an instrument that measures the quality of conversations between leaders and members in the workplace. A series of three studies were conducted. Study I involved item generation and content validity assessment. Study II undertook the task of scale construction and reliability assessment. Study III tested the convergent, discriminant, and criterion-related validity of the scale. These studies resulted in a nine-item instrument with sufficient psychometric properties. The ability of the instrument to assess conversational practices quantitatively will help generate greater insights into leader–member communication dynamics and their consequences.
In this article, we examine organizations’ discourse around the Best Places to Work (BPTW) initiative in New Zealand. Through interviews with managers of participating organizations, we examined the dialectical tensions presented by participation in BPTW and how participants responded to these. Findings reveal that organizations enter BPTW motivated by a desire to improve human resource practices or organizational image, or both. Improving practice and/or image holds the promise of greater control over outcomes of importance, such as enhanced reputational capital. However, organizations must assess the risks of entering and exiting BPTW, which include a potential loss of legitimacy. From such assessments, the central dialectics emerge: substance–image and risk–control. Organizations manage these dialectics through four discursive responses: selection, separation, integration, and withdrawal.
In this article, we present a rhetorical analysis of organizational communication by a non-profit, social movement organization, Amnesty International Denmark (AID), to illustrate how communication by non-governmental organizations (NGOs) simultaneously serves organizational self-interest and provides a set of symbolic tools for individuals to use in the process of constructing biographical certainty. Our analysis shows how AID’s member communication constructs a view of the world centered on moral binaries and invites members to identify with the moral position that AID represents. This idealistic morality not only offers members a sense of collective identity, certainty, and order in their own lives but also serves AID by preserving the moral high ground for the organization and creating a broad basis for support.
Despite recent scholarly contributions regarding policy communication, much remains to be known about policy communication processes. This article reports two studies that resulted in a survey instrument that measures policy communication in organizations. Study One included 197 full-time employees across occupations and industries. Exploratory factor analysis resulted in five factors of the Policy Communication Index: Meeting Discussions, Human Resources Communication, Coworker Interactions, Supervisor/Coworker Written Instructions, and Personal Expressions. Study Two included 245 full-time employees across job functions and industries. Confirmatory factor analysis confirmed a five-factor Policy Communication Index. Results are interpreted with structurating activity theory and implications are posed for future organizational communication research and practice.