This paper aims to look into changing future landscapes of business interaction, relationships and networks using the lens of the work of Mikhail Bakhtin and his key notions of polyphony, heteroglossia and dialogism.
This is a conceptual paper exploring the complex dualities of Bakhtin’s approach involving eternally competing, paradoxical forces of unity and fragmentation; continuity and change; and coherence and incongruity.
Bakhtin’s approach suggests that all phenomena at all levels involve a complex struggle between organizational unity and dis-organizational fragmentation. Bakhtin provides theoretical support for David Boje’s notion of “antenarratives” as key in the making of socially constructed futures. Antenarratives are bridging “tropes” between unifying narratives and fragmented stories.
Antenarratives need to be a focal interest in researching Bakhtinian dualities because they are a catalyst and chiasmus traveling between and inter-animating relations between narratives and stories.
The Bakhtinian schema suggests that practitioners need to maintain a reliance upon “phronesis” or practical wisdom and dexterity that allows them to adapt and improvise in fast-changing and multiple situations and contexts. To enable them to do this, such practical capabilities need the combined cultivation of appropriate embodied skills, capabilities in communicative and symbolic persuasion, as well as analytical reasoning.
Bakhtin’s concepts provide a unique and operationalizable approach to encompassing duality, which addresses the increasing need in business marketing to understand and adapt within increasingly complex and changing landscapes of business interaction, relationships and networks.
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