9 Constitutive Communication of Organizations

  • Social Constructionist
  • Structuration Theory: creation and reproduction of social systems that is based on the analysis of both structure and agents
  • little d discourse: what happen in the conversion (i.e., representation)
  • big D Discourse; The system of expectation you

(Schoeneborn and Vásquez 2017)

6 premises:

  • studies communication events (temporal and spatial dimensions).
  • Should be as inclusive as possible in its definition of (organizational) communication.
  • the co-constructed nature of (organizational) communication
  • who or what is acting is an open question
  • Communication events as unit of analysis
  • Equal importance of organizing (process) and organization (entity)

3 schools in CCO

  • Montreal School approach: (pioneered by James R. Taylor) focus on text, speech, and linguistic forms to understand the their organizing properties. Organization is “enacted through interaction and is related to processes of meaning negotiation.”

    • Cocretation: people talk \(\to\) interaction
    • Distanciation: through time, separated, distanced from the original conversation.
    • based on actor-network theory
  • Four Flows approach (pioneered Robert D. McPhee): based on Giddens’ structuration theory. Organization is created only when there are four flows:

    • Membership negotiation
    • Self-structuring: constantly structuring, self here is the organization created through interaction.
    • Activity coordination
    • Institutional positioning (its environment)
  • Social System Theory approach (pioneered by Niklas Luhmann): “communication constitutes systems that produce the very elements they consist of, in a self-referential way”

Key Questions

  • Ontological question: “what is an organization?”
  • Composition problem: “How to scale up from interaction to organization?”
  • Agency: “Who ro what is able to act on behalf of the organization?”


  • Bold claim that communication is organization
  • Too broad definition of communication.
  • Talk is cheap.

Emerging topics in CCO:

  • Authority (power, domination, legitimization)
  • Disordering properties of communication.

(Bruscella and Bisel 2018)

Example of Four Flows school

terrorist organizations are communicatively constituted by the way they refer to their material as evidence to their image, existence, and legitimacy.

organization are constructed from the following communication processes:

  • Self-structuring: division of labor, rights and responsibility
  • membership negotiation: membership inclusion and exclusion criteria.
  • activity coordination: mutual adjustments of action
  • institutional position: defining the boundaries of the organization

Question of agency:

  • Four Flows theory define agency as human unique ability to make their own choice, while the Montreal School define agency as the ability to make a difference (e.g., humans or nonhumans). Hence, this paper included materials into the Four Flow Theory as the

Materials (or economics) can give inference about legitimacy, permanence, and credibility.

Hidden organization challenged the assumption of visibility from the Montreal school.

ISIL used a propaganda magazine (Dabiq) - communication- to illustrate their image and identity to its members

three communication strategies in their institutional positioning communication:

  1. instantiation: give artifacts to explain arguments.
  2. cooptation: “adoption of a rival’s messaging for a purpose different from its original use.”
  3. intertextual allusion: " a language form in which an association with a sacred, mythic, or origin text is insinuated by way of communication shortcuts."

(Koschmann and McDonald 2015)

(Knuf 1993) defines organizational rituals “in terms of their formality, sacredness, irrationality, and aesthetics.”

“what rituals do is make present an authoritative text, and how they do this is through the attribution and appropriation of possessive constitution.”

Organizations is an “abstract textual representations of power and legitimacy that are manifest in practice.” Hence, Certain kinds of interactions (i.e., organizational rituals) create organization.

Authoritative text “portrays the structure of the organization in ways that specify roles, duties, values, activities, outcomes, and the like, while also explaining relations of power and legitimacy.”

Specifically rituals found in this study:

  • The opening
  • Sharing the critter: appreciation
  • Card signing
  • Spanish lesson
  • Reciting the mission statement
  • Moment of silence

Ritual Agency

  • Rituals remind
  • Rituals discipline: instill or and constraining behavior.

Inclusion is authoritative text which constructs their organization. Hence, rituals are practices that shows inclusion.

(Cooren 2015)

ventriloquism denotes “action through which someone or something makes someone or something else say or do things.” (Cooren 2010). For example, a layer is a ventriloquist while a contract is a dummy or figure.

  • Ventriloquism is bi-directionality.
  • Figure or dummy can increase ventriloquist’s authority
  • communication becomes the means through which some aspects of the world contradict or align themselves with other aspects of the world. From a ventriloqual point of view, the world is not a place where communication is detached from the things that matter."

(Trittin and Schoeneborn 2015)

Diversity in organization cannot be superficially achieved by pre-defined unchanged characteristics (i.e., gender). Hence, in this study, authors defined diversity as “the plurality of”voices," that is, the range of individual opinions and societal discourses that get expressed and can find resonance in organizational settings."

  • One can have many voices, and one voice can be manifested by multiple individuals.

Instrumental Perspectives on Diversity Management:

Critical Perspectives on Diversity Management:

  • Radical -critical: you can’t manage diversity in organizational settings.
  • Constructive critical: instrumental approach can be both economically successful and socially just.

This paper follows the Montreal school of thought.