Technological determinism and discursive closure in organizational mergers

Paul M. Leonardi (Department of Management Science and Engineering, Stanford University, San Leandro, California, USA)
Michele H. Jackson (Department of Communication, University of Colorado at Boulder, Boulder, Colorado, USA)

Journal of Organizational Change Management

ISSN: 0953-4814

Publication date: 1 December 2004

Abstract

In times of organizational change leaders often tell stories that justify publicly the directions in which organizations move. Such stories are always political in nature and often reflect the motives of the storyteller. We observe how leaders in high‐tech organizations use the story of technological determinism in organizational settings as a discursive practice through which they invoke the “inevitability” of technology to justify managerial decisions to the public. Rather than taking ownership of certain actions, managers are able to use this story to claim that certain organizational changes are inevitable, and to eliminate alternative stories. We examine this strategy as it appears in the public discourse produced during two mergers in the high‐tech and telecommunications industries occurring from 1998 to 2002: US West and Qwest, and AOL and TimeWarner. Finally, we demonstrate that the story of technological determinism performs discursive closure around each merger.

Keywords

Citation

Leonardi, P.M. and Jackson, M.H. (2004), "Technological determinism and discursive closure in organizational mergers", Journal of Organizational Change Management, Vol. 17 No. 6, pp. 615-631. https://doi.org/10.1108/09534810410564587

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2004, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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