chapter  2
36 Pages

Communication as Coorientation

There are, we saw in chapter 1, two basic approaches to the study of the organization-communication link, assuming the latter to be mediated by discourse. One is a conversation-based, ethnomethodological view that perceives organization to arise out of communication through the laminated sensemaking activities of members, endlessly renegotiated. The second is a text-based, critical view that sees organization as already inscribed in the forms of language we inherit as part of a larger “discursive formation” and reproduced spontaneously (even unconsciously) in communication to instantiate a structuring of society that privileges some voices and silences others. You could think of these as alternative conceptualizations, mutually exclusive. In this chapter, we argue for a different interpretation. We conceive of the approaches as complementary perspectives within the framework of a more encompassing theory of communication and organization. We treat them as corresponding to dimensions of communication that lend themselves to alternative readings of the organizational phenomenon but that are not inherently contradictory. We see communication as fundamentally bidimensional. We try to show that the difference of perspective of the two approaches is just that-a difference of perspective, one that is the result of a decision of what to treat as figure (conversation or text) and what as ground (the other): a choice of “worldview” (J.R.Taylor, 1993).