Decolonializing Discourse: Critical Reflections on Organizational Discourse Analysis

Mats Alvesson, Dan Kärreman

    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


    Organizational discourse has emerged as a large research field and references to discourse are numerous. As with all dominating approaches problematizations of assumptions are important. This article, partly a follow up of the authors’ frequently cited 2000 Human Relations article, provides a critical and perhaps provocative overview of some of the more recent work and tendencies within the field. It is argued that discourse continues to be used in vague and all-embracing ways, where the constitutive effects of discourse are taken for granted rather than problematized and explored. The article identifies three particular problems prevalent in the current organizational discourse literature: reductionism, overpacking, and colonization and suggests three analytical strategies to overcome these problems: counter-balancing concepts — aiming to avoid seeing ‘everything’ as discourse — relativizing muscularity — being more open about discourse’s constitutive effects — and disconnecting discourse and Discourse through much more disciplined use of discourse vocabulary.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalHuman Relations
    Issue number9
    Pages (from-to)1121-1146
    Publication statusPublished - 2011

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