Creating Organizational Cultures: Re-Conceptualizing the Relations Between Rhetorical Strategies and Material Practices

Nico Mouton, Sine Nørholm Just, Jonas Gabrielsen

    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


    Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to re-conceptualize the relations between rhetorical strategies and material practices in the processes whereby leaders create or change organizational cultures.

    Design/methodology/approach – The authors compare and contrast two broad perspectives on cultural change in organizations. The first perspective is informed by modern social science, and focuses primarily on material practices. The second perspective is rooted in classical rhetoric, and concentrates on discursive strategies.

    Findings – It is found that both perspectives hold pertinent but partial insights. The authors propose an integrated perspective in which material practices and rhetorical strategies are seen as two analytical sides of the same ontological coin. This enables a fuller and more detailed explanation of how organizational cultures are created or changed. A brief illustration is provided of the merits of this approach by revisiting the case of Enron.

    Originality/value – The paper constitutes an initial exploration of how social scientific and rhetorical perspectives on organizational change may be brought closer together. It may provide the first step towards the development of a new, integrated theory.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalJournal of Organizational Change Management
    Issue number2
    Pages (from-to)315-331
    Number of pages17
    Publication statusPublished - 2012

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