Organizational Discourse as Determination of Social Relations in Organizations

Item Type Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)

Social relations in organizations are predominantly discussed as either bonds between individuals or, alternatively as team-based matters. Moreover, social relations are often viewed as the objects to be improved by means of training and education, a view that is heavily influenced by the humanist ideal of personal development and growth. Neglected in these ideas on social relations are often the structures and discourses the organization itself produces. The co-dependence of the organizational and the social discourse is the main target of this study.

Objective and Method
To gain an understanding of the relation between organizational discourses and how those effectuate relations within the organization, an in-depth study encompassing two large organizations was carried out. The objective was to investigate both the organizational as well as the social discourses in the organization, whereby taking a special interest in the interrelation of the two. Based on problem-centred interviews and group discussions with over hundred participants within the organizations, a discourse analysis was carried out.

This study shows how the level of organizational discourse interrelates with the social discourse of the organizations. Surprisingly, the results show that rather traditional discourse of the organizations such as Taylorism formed the pivotal reference point for the organizational discourse. This was posed in a sharp contrast with discourses of social relations, as those were very much inspired by humanist ideals. As the organizational discourse influencing the social was never discussed within the organizations, frictions between the two levels were carried out on individual level. Both the gap and the wider implications between constructions of organizational realities relying on pre-Human Relations concepts of organizations and claims on the social discourse very much based on just those humanist ideals became explicit through this study.

Inquiries of organizational discourses have a long tradition in the field of Organizational Psychology as is evident, in the debate on Taylorism or the Human Relations. Equally prominent in Organizational Psychology is the discussion of people's relational competencies in organizations. This study shows how organizational discourse en- and disables certain qualities of relations in organizations, thus bringing two traditionally separated fields of Organizational Psychology together. Implications for an integrative approach that focuses on both relational and organizational levels are discussed on the basis of empirical and theoretical arguments.

Authors Resch, Doerte & Steyaert, Chris
Projects Resch, Doerte (2002) Konstruktionen Sozialen Miteinanders in Organisationen - Jenseits individualistischer Zuschreibungen von Kompetenz für ein Soziales [dissertation project] Official URL
Language English
Keywords organizational discourse, social relations, discourse analysis, Human Relations, Taylorism
Subjects other research area
HSG Classification contribution to scientific community
Refereed Yes
Date 14 May 2009
Publisher EAWOP
Page Range 1
Event Title 14th Congress European Association of Work and Organizational Psychology (EAWOP)
Event Location Santiago de Compostella
Event Dates 13.-16.05.2009
Depositing User Prof. Dr. Doerte Resch
Date Deposited 19 May 2009 11:13
Last Modified 14 Sep 2017 14:56


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Resch, Doerte & Steyaert, Chris: Organizational Discourse as Determination of Social Relations in Organizations. 2009. - 14th Congress European Association of Work and Organizational Psychology (EAWOP). - Santiago de Compostella.

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