36th EGOS Colloquium

Organizing for a Sustainable Future:
Responsibility, Renewal & Resistance


University of Hamburg

July 2–4, 2020

Hamburg, Germany




Sub-theme 44: Putting Management Communication to the Practical Test in its Heyday

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Peter Stücheli-Herlach
Zurich University of Applied Sciences, Switzerland
Christian Schwägerl
Hochschule Osnabrück, Germany
François Cooren
Université de Montréal, Canada

Call for Papers

With the growing role that organizations play in the upheavals of modern societies, we feel the urgent need to challenge how management research tends to be conducted. Organizational practices that are denoted by the term “management” are more and more discussed in current research discourses as well as in the public sphere, but questions such as responsibility, autonomy, agency or the contribution to value creation remain, in many respects, unresolved (Rüegg-Stürm & Grand, 2015: 26). If the disruptively changing society – and the role organizations play in it – form our frame of reference, we think that the question of management’s contribution to sustainable development must be posed anew and the “black box” of this controversial term must be reopened (ibid.).
Within the framework of this sub-theme, we will encourage participants to openly discuss and analyze what it means to manage and to be a manager today. We will especially draw attention to the interactional and thus linguistic dimensions of management practices. By doing so, the sub-theme aims to refine the theoretical and empirical perspectives, in which “management” is understood as a communicative constitutive practice of a communicatively constituted organization in the modern “world society” (Brummans et al., 2013; Stichweh, 2000; Danesi & Rocci, 2009).

  • On the one hand, this sub-theme is intended to discuss previous findings from practice-oriented research strands on the topic (Holman & Thorpe, 2003) such as social constructivism (Weick, 2001), the ethnography of “managerial work” (Mintzberg, 1971, 2009), the emerging “communication constitutes organization” (CCO) approach (Putnam & Nicotera, 2009; Robichaud & Cooren, 2013; Brummans et al., 2013; Schoeneborn et al., 2014; Cooren, 2017), as well as the “processual turn” (Langley, 1999, 2009; Hernes & Maitlis, 2010; Rüegg-Stürm & Grand, 2015). It will put these approaches to the test to examine whether they can be made fruitful for a practical-theoretical and linguistic sharpening of the topic.

  • On the other hand, the sub-theme will discuss whether the “practice” and “linguistic” turn in management research can lead to new questions and results in relations to the practical challenges that managers, management teams and management communities are facing in modern society (Cooren et al., 2014; Lorino, 2014; Mautner & Reiner, 2017; Sarangi & Candlin, 2011; Knapp & Antos ,2011). We will therefore encourage participants to explore management as an organization-building “performance” (Trujillo, 1983), as “communicative networking” (Spranz-Fogasy, 2002), as “practical authorship” (Shotter & Cunliffe, 2003), as “meta-conversation” (Taylor & Robichaud, 2007), as “multicommunicating” (Reinsch, 2008), as “ventriloquism” (Cooren, 2012), as communicative “reflexive design practice” (Rüegg-Stürm & Grand, 2015), or as discursive agency (Cooren, 2015; Stücheli-Herlach, 2018).

Colleagues from various international research fields will be invited to present their methodological approaches and findings. Empirical studies and conceptual works by the three convenors and their collaborators on topics such as the practices of “change management” of energy companies against the background of public controversies, the managerial practices of “corporate newsrooms" or the evaluation practices established in “strategic communication” departments (see Schwägerl et al., 2018) will be put up for discussion. We assume that these practices are constituted by the interactional viability of the connections between, for example, participants’ roles, voices, artifacts and interactive processes and thus consider the following analytical categories to be relevant (Hillebrandt, 2014: 59; see also Deppermann et al., 2016; Schatzki, 2001):

  • practices as a series of accountable linguistic and communicative events in different situations, modes, media, structures of interaction and discursive patterns (such as speaking, writing, meeting, negotiating, etc.);

  • forms of practices as accountable chains of the former (such as genres, processes, strategies);

  • formations of practice in the sense of networks that consist of actors, activities, and artifacts in specific contexts (such as organizational development, multilingual communication, change, knowledge, conflict and crisis management).

The aim of the discussion will be to network researchers interested in the field and to put theory and research to a “practical test” at a time when management communication appears more important than ever before.


  • Brummans, B., Cooren, F., Robichaud, D., & Taylor, J.R. (2013): “Approaches to the Communicative Constitution of Organizations.” In: L.L. Putnam & D. Mumby (eds.): The SAGE Handbook of Organizational Communication: Advances in Theory, Research, and Methods. Thousand Oaks: SAGE Publications, 173–184.
  • Cooren, F. (2012): “Communication Theory at the Center: Ventriloquism and the Communicative Constitution of Reality.” Journal of Communication, 62 (1), 1–20.
  • Cooren, F. (2015): Organizational Discourse. Cambridge: Polity Press.
  • Cooren, F. (2017): “Organizational communication: A wish list for the next fifteen years.” In: B. Czarniawska (ed.): A Research Agenda for Management and Organization Studies. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar, 79–87.
  • Cooren, F., Vaara, E., Langley, A., & Tsoukas, H. (2014): “Language and Communication at Work.” In: F. Cooren, E. Vaara, A. Langley & H. Tsoukas (eds.): Language and Communication at Work: Discourse, Narrativity, and Organizing. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1–16.
  • Danesi, M., & Rocci, A. (2009): Global Linguistics: An Introduction. Berlin: de Gruyter.
  • Deppermann, A., Feilke, H., & Linke, A. (eds.) (2016): “Sprachliche und kommunikative Praktiken: Eine Annäherung aus linguistischer Sicht.” In A. Deppermann, H. Feilke & A. Linke (eds.): Sprachliche und kommunikative Praktiken. Berlin: de Gruyter, 1–23.
  • Hillebrandt, F. (2014): Soziologische Praxistheorien: Eine Einführung. Wiesbaden: Springer VS.
  • Holman, D.J., & Thorpe, R. (2003): “Introduction: Management and language: the manager as a practical author.” In: D.J. Holman & R. Thorpe (eds.): Management & Language. London: SAGE Publications, 1–12.
  • Knapp, K., & Antos, G. (2011): “Introduction to the handbook series: Linguistics for problem solving.” In: C.N. Candlin & S. Sarangi (eds.): Handbook of Communication in Organisations and Professions. Boston: de Gruyter, v–xv.
  • Lorino, P. (2014): “From speech acts to act speeches: Collective activity, a discursive process speaking the language of habits.” In: F. Cooren, E. Vaara, A. Langley & H. Tsoukas (eds.): Language and Communication at Work: Discourse, Narrativity, and Organizing. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 95–124.
  • Mautner, G., & Rainer, F. (eds.) (2017): “Editor’s Introduction.” In: G. Mautner & F. Rainer (eds.): Handbook of Business Communication: Linguistic Approaches. Handbooks of Applied Linguistics, Vol. 13. Boston: de Gruyter, 3–14.
  • Reinsch, L.R., Turner, J.W., & Tinsley, C. (2008): “Multicommunicating: A practice whose time has come?” Academy of Management Review, 33 (2), 391–403.
  • Robichaud, D., & Cooren, F. (eds.) (2013): Organization and Organizing: Materiality, Agency and Discourse. New York: Routledge.
  • Rüegg-Stürm, J., & Grand, S. (2015): The St. Gallen Management Model. Bern: Haupt.
  • Sarangi, S., & Candlin, C.N. (2011): “Professional and organisational practice: A discourse/communication perspective.” In: C. Candling & S. Sarangi (eds.): Handbook of Communication in Organisations and Professions. Boston: de Gruyter, 3–58.
  • Schatzki, T.R. (2001): “Introduction: Practice Theory.” In: T.R. Schatzki, K. Knorr Cetina & E. v. Savigny (eds.): The Practice Turn in Contemporary Theory. New York: Routledge, 1–14.
  • Schoeneborn, D., Blaschke, S., Cooren, F., McPhee, R.D., Seidl, D., & Taylor, J.R. (2014): “The three schools of CCO thinking: Interactive dialogue and systematic comparison.” Management Communication Quarterly, 28 (2), 285–316.
  • Schwägerl, C., Fuhrberg, R., & Umansky, D. (2018): “Intention und Emergenz. Wie die Gesprächsanalyse zur Evaluation strategischer Kommunikation beitragen kann. Das Beispiel einer Bürgerveranstaltung zum Übertragungsnetzausbau.” In: C. Christoph & A. Schach (eds.): Handbuch Sprache in den Public Relations. Wiesbaden: Springer Gabler, 271–291.
  • Shotter, J., & Cunliffe, A.L. (2003): “Managers as practical authors: everyday conversations for action.” In: D. Holman & R. Thorpe (eds.): Management & Language. London: SAGE Publications, 15–38.
  • Stichweh, R. (2000): Die Weltgesellschaft. Frankfurt a.M.: Suhrkamp.
  • Stücheli-Herlach, P. (2018): “Wertschöpfung ist Wortschöpfung: Zur Modellierung des Sprachgebrauchs in der strategischen Organisationskommunikation.” In: C. Christoph & A. Schach (eds.): Handbuch Sprache in den Public Relations. Wiesbaden: Springer Gabler, 117–134.
  • Spranz-Fogasy, T. (2002): “Was macht der Chef? Der kommunikative Alltag von Führungskräften in der Wirtschaft.” In: M. Becker-Mrotzek & R. Fiehler (eds.): Unternehmenskommunikation. Tübingen: Gunter Narr, 209–230.
  • Taylor, J.R., & Robichaud, D. (2007): “Management as Metaconversation: The Search for Closure.” In: F. Cooren (ed.): Interacting and Organizing. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum, 5–30.
  • Trujillo, N. (1983): “‘Performing’ Mintzberg’s Roles: The Nature of Managerial Communication.” In: L.L. Putnam & M.E. Pacanowsky (eds.): Communication and Organizations. Thousand Oaks: SAGE Publications, 73–98.
Peter Stücheli-Herlach is Professor of Organizational Communication and the Public Sphere at Zurich University of Applied Sciences, Switzerland, and Leader and Co-leader of numerous transdisciplinary research projects in the area of public governance and public management, communication, media and message design. Together with François Cooren, Peter edited the upcoming “Handbook of Management Communication” (de Gruyter, 2020).
Christian Schwägerl is a Professor of Communication Management at Hochschule Osnabrück – University of Applied Sciences, Germany. He specializes in organizational communication and linguistic varieties in workplace communication.
François Cooren is a Professor and the former Chair of the Department of Communication at the Université de Montréal, Canada. His research interests include organizational communication, language and social interaction, and communication theory. François authored and co-authored four books, edited five volumes, and published more than 40 book chapters and 50 articles in international peer-reviewed journals such as ‘Academy of Management Annals’, ‘Organization Studies’, ‘Human Relations’, ‘Long Range Planning’, ‘Organization’, ‘Management Communication Quarterly’, ‘Communication Monographs’, ‘Journal of Communication’, and ‘Communication Theory’.
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