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The Organizational Paradox of Language

Interdisciplinary Dialogues on Organizational Paradox: Investigating Social Structures and Human Expression, Part B

ISBN: 978-1-80117-187-8, eISBN: 978-1-80117-186-1

Publication date: 8 July 2021

Abstract

The way organizational actors use language to think about and communicate their organizational experiences is central to how organizational actors enact organizational paradox. However, most inquiries into the role of language in the organizational paradox literature has focused on specific components of language (e.g., discourse), without attention to the complex, multi-level linguistic system that is interconnected to organizational processes. In this chapter, we expand our knowledge of the role of language by integrating paradox research with research from the linguistics discipline. We identify a series of linguistic tensions (i.e., generalizability-specificity, universalism-particularism, and explicitness-implicitness) that are nested within organizational paradoxes. In the process, we reveal how the organizing paradox of control and autonomy is interconnected to other paradoxes (i.e., performing, learning, and belonging) through the instantiation of linguistic paradoxes. We discuss the implications of our findings for research on paradox and language.

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Acknowledgements

Acknowledgements

We would like to thank Rebecca Bednarek and Miguel Cunha for their continuous constructive advice and support during the editorial process, especially during the special circumstances we were living in during 2020. We would also like to thank Marianne Lewis, Ella Miron-Spektor, and participants in a seminar A/Prof Keller conducted on “Words as Paradoxes” at the Cass Business School in London, UK for their feedback on this paper.

Citation

Keller, J. and Tian, P. (2021), "The Organizational Paradox of Language", Bednarek, R., e Cunha, M.P., Schad, J. and Smith, W.K. (Ed.) Interdisciplinary Dialogues on Organizational Paradox: Investigating Social Structures and Human Expression, Part B (Research in the Sociology of Organizations, Vol. 73b), Emerald Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 101-122. https://doi.org/10.1108/S0733-558X2021000073b008

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

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