The purpose of this paper is to provide a critical analysis of organizational power at a non‐profit organization, and demonstrate how a participation intervention can deconstruct entrenched norms that govern how influence is allocated among employees.
Using Habermas' ideal speech context as a framework for analysis, the intervention and related outcomes were examined for their potential to create constructive conflict through which both high and low status employees could interpret and negotiate how power is discursively created and maintained in the organization.
The intervention provided employees access to a discursive situation through which they could re‐interpret power‐reifying norms that limited their ability to represent their own interests. It not only provided lower‐level employees an opportunity to influence the discussion, but it also revealed an alternative way to interpret strategic planning. Through the intervention, the employees could see that the policies and decisions that they assumed to be fixed could actually be developed through a negotiated process.
Communication scholars have kept employee participation within the realm of theory, rarely providing practical discursive tools for shifting systems of control and helping low status workers empower themselves. In contrast, this study describes a concrete method for decentralizing organizational power and shows how using a theory‐based intervention can help both managers and their staff to critically evaluate existing organizational power structures.
Ritchie, L. (2012), "Negotiating power through communication: Using an employee participation intervention to construct a discursive space for debate", Journal of Communication Management, Vol. 16 No. 1, pp. 95-107. https://doi.org/10.1108/13632541211198003Download as .RIS
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