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Making strategic change: a critical discourse analysis

Steve Jaynes (Deakin Graduate School of Business, Deakin University, Melbourne, Australia.)

Journal of Organizational Change Management

ISSN: 0953-4814

Article publication date: 9 February 2015




The purpose of this paper is to present the findings from a discourse model that was developed for an empirical study of a strategic change program.


The perspective informing the discourse model is that discursive processes are central to strategic change in organizations, and that strategic change works by constructing a particular organizational reality in which the possibilities for change are preconditioned. This perspective offers a discursive understanding of how strategic change is formed, articulated, engaged, and contested by managers and employees.


The paper reports the findings from a study in which the discourse model was applied to a strategic change program in a Bank. The findings demonstrate the inter-discursive nature of strategic change in showing how different levels of discourse, from the grand to the local, were intertwined in an organizational and situated context.

Research limitations/implications

This paper builds on the small but growing body of empirical work that studies organizational strategy as a discourse. In this paper it has been argued that discursive processes are central to strategic change in organizations - central to the understanding and the practice of how strategic change is formed, articulated, and engaged by managers and employees. This argument was informed by a post-structuralist definition and articulation of language and an understanding of language as discourse in organizations.

Practical implications

The paper demonstrates the central role of language and discourse in the formation of a strategic change program. The findings reported in the paper show the importance of strategy discourse in providing a framework for strategic change, for mobilizing change in an organization, and for legitimizing the change imperative.

Social implications

A critique of the management of emotional intelligence is set out. The centrality of employee identity and subject position to the processes of change is illustrated.


The discourse model made possible an investigation of how a program of strategic change was formed through the discursive framing of organizational reality.



Jaynes, S. (2015), "Making strategic change: a critical discourse analysis", Journal of Organizational Change Management, Vol. 28 No. 1, pp. 97-116.



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Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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