Organizing special issue


Organizing : a Matter of Language, Discourse, or Communication ?
A special issue of the French journal Sciences de la Société
Guest editors :
Bertrand Fauré, LERASS, Université Toulouse 3.
Daniel Robichaud, Department of communication, Université de Montréal

The French interdisciplinary journal Sciences de la Société (SdS) will publish, for its 80th edition, a special issue aimed at fostering dialogue between disciplinary and linguistic research communities that study organizations and processes of organizing. Organizations and organizing processes are at the forefront of contemporary global transformations and change the lives of individuals across the world. Organization studies have also been a growing interest for SdS readers and editors (see issues 74, 63, 61, 59, 50 and 51 in the past 10 years only). More importantly, a common concern in contemporary anglophone and francophone research communities on organizations is the role of language/discourse/communication in the constitution and formation of organizational realities.

In the anglophone world, the “interpretive turn” (Putman & Pacanowski, 1983), among other influences, shaped the emergence of a young field – called Organization communication – that developed progressively into an autonomous and “discipline” (Mumby, 2007; Mumby & Stohl, 2007). With its professional networks, journals, and academic programs, the field has become increasingly institutionalized, especially in the United States and Canada. In parallel with the latter, another field, emerged in the early 1990s in Europe and elsewhere around the notion of organizational discourse and discursive approaches to organizations (Grant, Hardy & Oswick, 2004). Whereas both fields developed rather independently form each other until the 2000s (Jian et al., 2008 ; Taylor, 2008), many bridges have been built since through conferences and journals (e.g., see Teun van Dijk’s Discourse  & Communication).

In the francophone world, scholarly efforts to look at the constitutive role of discourse and communication are still scattered. At least three relatively distinct and rapidly evolving traditions can be identified: (1) the sociology of work and its growing focus on talk-at-work (langage au travail) (Borzeix & Fraenkel, 2005); (2) management sciences and the emergent discursive analysis of organizations (Girin, 1990; Lorino, 2005); and (3) communication studies of organizations (Bernard, 2002; Delcambre, 2000). Despite the diversity of their disciplinary origins, all seem to acknowledge the basic role of language use, discourse, and communication in organizing. But beyond isolated collaborations, an interdisciplinary dialogue is still lacking.

In both linguistic communities, many conceptual issues are in need of being further developed and clarified. As numerous authors have noted in both communities, notions such as discourse, communication, interaction, conversation, texts, and others, are still used in ambiguous and equivocal ways. What do expressions such as “organizations are constituted in, by, or through language/discourse/communication” mean? What do we mean by “constitute” or “constitution”? Do we mean that they are instituted, created, produced, shaped, or enacted? Or do we mean that organizational emergence, perpetuation, and change processes are anchored, embedded or embodied in language/discourse/communication?

SdS calls for manuscripts that address fundamental questions like these through theoretical/conceptual essays and/or empirical studies. Possible topics include (but are not limited to):
1. Epistemological and ontological foundations of so-called “constitutive” approaches to communication, discourse, and organization;
2. Theoretical approaches and propositions dealing with the constitutive role of discourse and communication (through performativity, narrative construction, transformative texts, etc.);
3. Methodological approaches for the empirical analysis of discursive materials and interactions that allow us to investigate their organizing properties;
4. The contribution of such approaches to our understanding of organizational processes, such as organizational learning, knowledge management, change, leadership, globalization, strategy, or inter-organizational collaboration, among others.

Submissions will be reviewed in their original language (French or English). If accepted, the final version of each English manuscript will be translated to French by the journal. Papers should not exceed 8,000 words in length, including notes, references and a 150-word abstract. The manuscript should be formatted according to the guidelines provided by the American Psychological Association (APA) format (5th ed.), and submitted as an MS Word document (.doc, .docx) or Rich Text (.rtf) format. Names, emails, addresses and affiliations of authors should be included on a separate page. Papers should be sent as an attachment to the following addresses by December 1st, 2011:

The guest editors also plan to organize a special workshop in Toulouse, France, in June 2012 to bring together all contributors whose papers will have been selected.

(Originally posted to CRTNET)