Organizational socialization research has been criticized for being too focused on socialization as an adaptation process. Furthermore, critics contend that socialization approaches tend to be micro-biased; they lose sight of broader societal implications. This study tackles both critiques by combining an identity-based understanding of socialization with the communicative con cept of the polyphonic organization. It is not only individuals who engage in multiple identity work; business organizations also do so when exposed to contextual voices at the macro-level of society. Qualitative interviews and focus groups with corporate communication professionals, alumni, and students reveal that there are multiple voices shaping organizational socialization. However, one societal reference has proved to be hegemonic, namely the instrumental reasoning of the economic system: newcomers are expected to adapt to the ‘real world’ of ‘budgets.’
This paper considers the methodological implications arising from competing narratives of an organizational change process in a large acute city teaching hospital. This qualitative case study was informed by a processual-contextual perspective, and relied on an interpretive, constructivist epistemology. Two forms of contradiction are revealed. First, differing accounts were offered of substantive dimensions of the change programme. Second, the impact of change on organizational effectiveness was indeterminate. This study suggests that the unitary, authentic narrative is illusory. Political motivations underpinning account-giving, and phenomenological variations in the lived experience of change, make competing narratives a naturally occurring phenomenon, not a methodological aberration. These findings have two main implications. First, case narrative validation through triangulation should be abandoned in favour of the pursuit of polyphony and ambiguity. Second, the researcher faces the choice of being either an arbiter of accuracy, or of holding the less comfortable, more challenging, but creatively constructive role of exposing organizational tensions, disputes and contradictions.
Written through the lens of the practitioner-scholar, this paper integrates first-hand experience with theory to explore the tension between positive scholarship and the Metamorphosis Model proposed by Boje (2005) in the context of the emerging workplace practice of systematically applying story/telling. In particular it examines the importance of shadow stories, potent stories from the liminal spaces of the organization, and their implication for organizational practitioners who are latching on to the emerging trend to formally or systematically integrate story/telling into their practice. It draws on the practical experience blended with the qualitative research of the author on the systematic use of stories in for-profit organizations. It does not problematize systematic, performer storytelling as a strategic process, but for the purposes of this paper accepts it as a popular contemporary trend. A preliminary set of reflective questions for practitioners who have chosen to participate in systematic storytelling are included with the intent of challenging practitioners to widen the angle of their listening lens and deepen their practice through an understanding and inclusion of liminal stories.
This article focuses on the role of organizational storytelling and identity formation of a Danish filmmaking company, Zentropa Entertainment Productions Company (a.k.a. Zentropa). Identity formation, as storytelling, is taking place in a context of multiple voices, polyphony, and is performed in dialogue. The article explores how identities are co-produced through the interaction between the organization and external actors by their story interaction. The study illustrates how the identity of a filmmaking company emerges from identity stories and how they are co-produced with the media. We argue that the rebellious ‘Maverick’ identity of Zentropa has emerged through its interaction with the media through “counter stories.” Finally, the study shows the difficulties that Zentropa encountered trying to maintain its rebellious ‘Maverick’ identity.
Markets are considered economic phenomena, which is said to be true even if markets are considered social structures, cultural fields, or simply politics, at the same time. Against this background, the present paper argues for a polyphonic market concept. Unlike the popular economy-biased notion of markets, such a concept allows for the analysis of markets in eras and areas where functional differentiation did or does not exist or play a major role. Furthermore, it turns the idea of the ultimately economic nature of markets from an axiom to a research question. In doing so, it breaks ground for research in major trends in functional differentiation and in the preferences for particular function systems featured by concrete groups, milieus or organizations.
This article studies how a political organization begins to experiment with its identity. By use of an empirical case of the Danish Ministry of Education, I examine how a political organization supplements its identity of a legislating power with identities of a supervisor, beacon and facilitator of reflection processes. I analyse how the Danish Ministry of Education observes that its initial attempts to strengthen evaluation in the Danish public schools did not have the wanted effects because the values and professional norms of public school teachers constitute a resistance towards interference from outside the educational system. The Ministry thus faces a dilemma: the more it tries to control evaluation in the public school, the less likely it is to produce a desired effect. This paradox contains destructive potential but also causes the Ministry to reflect upon its own role in the development of evaluation in public schools. Out of a paralysis emerge new innovative strategies of governing, aimed at the schools’ self-governing capacity. The identity of the political system thus emerges as oscillations between different roles of a legislating power and a supervising coach. The case study suggests that a society of experimentalism is emerging. Thus, the relevant object of study is no longer organizational identity, but the experiments with different identities that modern organizations are performing.
This article expands the hypothesis proposed by Peter F. Drücker and Dirk Baecker, that is, how the evolution of computer communication manifests and presses ahead the detemporization and poly-contextuality of information and therefore is said to be the driver for an unmanageable complexity within modern organizations. In order to do so, the article uses an illustrative case of Management by Objectives as it appears within the governmental programmes in Denmark associated with New Public Management. This case shows how this technology enables the production of a diversity of antagonistic images of the organization relative to its environment (polycontextuality) and in particular how these effects emerge due to different timebindings within organizations (organized temporality). As such the hypothesis is expanded in three ways: first of all, the hypothesis is expanded as polycontextuality is comprehended within the temporal dimension, that is, as the differences between timebindings. Second of all, the article renders probable these identity-problems of modern organizations but due to another technology which mediates communication: Management by Objectives. Thus, identity problems should be associated with other media of communication too, than the one of the computer communication. Third of all, the implications of identity problems of modern organizations are often associated with the impossibility of management or with a need for more complex ways of managing. The article is an attempt to specify this approach suggesting 2. order management as a matter of observing the observations enabled by management technologies. To these ends the article draws upon Luhmann´s system theory in order to direct attention to these organizational identity problems. This contribution is not conclusive. It is an attempt to expand a strong hypothesis in the need of further investigation
The ‘Polyphonic Organisation’ is an emerging root-metaphor for the multiple voices that constitute an organisation. In this article, we explore the narrative concept of the ‘chronotope’ as a feature of the ‘polyphonic organisation’. The ‘chronotope’, in a general sense, refers to the matrix of time-space-value in organisations. We argue that the chronotope is important because it introduces boundaries between voices within organisations and helps to explain the difficulties in getting to dialogue with voices in different spaces in the ‘Polyphonic Organisation’. More particularly, there are multiple kinds of chronotopes which lead to different kinds of time-spaces matrices within the polyphonic organisation. Our aim is to examine chronotope crossings within polyphonic organisations as part of the work of being heard. This is a theoretical argument drawing significantly from Bakhtin’s work on chronotope. To examine the argument in practice we draw on original fieldwork within the comedy industry. Here we found three kinds of chronotopes: 1) The comedy-offense boundary; 2) The commissioning landscape 3) Platform spaces. We also found that moving within and between these involved a variety of adventures in experience (such as hope and disappointment), which also have their own specific chronotopes. Overall, we argue that the polyphonic organisation is significantly enhanced as an organisational concept through a turn to the role of chronotope. This is because chronotope helpfully describes the barriers and porous boundaries between voices.
Organization and functional differentiation are considered key principles of modern societies. Yet, within organizational studies little research has been conducted on the interplay of function systems, organizations, and society. The few existing studies suppose trends to more functional polyphony. The cases presented in this article, however, support the idea that organizational multifunctionality is the standard case rather than a special case of organization. It is furthermore shown that organizations can change their function system preference and that the translation between function systems can be an organization’s main function. A Google Ngram view on functional differentiation finally furthers the idea that changes of function system preferences are not only a matter of individual organizations, but also a matter of entire societies.
This article contributes to the on-going debate among scholars of organizational identity on collective and polyphonic identity formation processes. The article explores the interplay between individual and organizational storytelling by conceptualizing organizational identity construction processes as a web of storytelling practices, a memory system evoking a sense of coherence and nostalgia among organizational members. By drawing on the results of a narrative and ethnographic case study of a consultancy, the article aims to unfold the web of stories and storytelling practices in a single case organization. The analysis explores how members of this organization, through their everyday storytelling practices, created shared understandings of being members of a fantastic company while simultaneously telling critical counterstories. The analysis shows how organizational members learned to shape not only their stories of success but also their counterstories in ways that made them harmonize with the storytelling traditions of the organization. Furthermore, the concept of personal polyphony is suggested to describe how everyday work stories are antenarrative in the sense that the construction of self, work and the organization is never finished; it is an ongoing process of negotiating and handling many potential and sometimes contradictory storylines simultaneously.