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Reconsidering the role of conversations in change communication: A contribution based on Bakhtin

Muayyad Jabri (School of Business, Economics and Public Policy, University of New England, Armidale, Australia)
Allyson D. Adrian (McDonough School of Business, Georgetown University, Washington, DC, USA)
David Boje (Department of Management, New Mexico State University, Las Cruces, New Mexico, USA)

Journal of Organizational Change Management

ISSN: 0953-4814

Article publication date: 15 October 2008

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Abstract

Purpose

The purpose is to inspire a more Bakhtinian perspective of conversations in change communication. Inspiration is drawn from Bakhtin and argue that change management has, for too long, focused on monologic implementation of predetermined change, i.e. how to develop the “best plot”. Change agents need to consider their anthropology are argued and ask themselves whether the people in their organizations are the objects of communication or subjects in communication. Furthermore, the argument about one's anthropology and one's espoused communication theory are intrinsically intertwined: how one communicates depends entirely on whether one views people as participating subjects in the process or as objects of the process.

Design/methodology/approach

Consensus‐as‐monologue and consensus‐as‐dialogue are distinguished. Under the former, the notion of a single speaker is emphasized (expectations of response are low). But under the latter, consensus becomes saturated with the self as the other (polemic, but born between people).

Findings

Change agents need to consider their anthropology are argued and ask themselves whether the people in their organizations are the objects of communication or subjects in communication.

Originality/value

Seeing conversation among people as a never‐ending process. A different perspective on participation – a perspective whereby one person's message joins with that of another and one person's meaning joins with that of another is offered.

Keywords

Citation

Jabri, M., Adrian, A.D. and Boje, D. (2008), "Reconsidering the role of conversations in change communication: A contribution based on Bakhtin", Journal of Organizational Change Management, Vol. 21 No. 6, pp. 667-685. https://doi.org/10.1108/09534810810915718

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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