Preparing the Show: Organizational Ventriloquism as Autocommunication

Lars Thøger Christensen*, Emma Christensen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

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The notion that communication is constitutive of organization has been developed in interesting ways, especially by the ventriloqual perspective and its observation that organizations are made present when human and non-human figures speak on their behalf. So far, this perspective has mainly been used as an analytical approach to study conversations. However, understood as a specific type of show or performance act, the ventriloquism metaphor has further potential to elucidate how organizations are constituted in communication. Ventriloqual shows are often meticulously prepared and rehearsed, especially when intended to be performed in front of an outside audience. In this conceptual paper, we extend research on organizational ventriloquism by discussing how such preparations influence organizations. To that purpose, we draw on the notion of autocommunication understood as communication through which collectives are animated by their own constructs. Specifically, we focus on those backstage settings where official presentations of organizations are contemplated and planned. In such settings, organizational ventriloquists engage in careful deliberations over the appropriateness of specific figures and discussions about how organizational presentations might be perceived by critical stakeholders. Conceptualizing such preparation as autocommunicative ventriloquism, we discuss how figures invoked in such settings can influence organizations and shape their future practices.
Original languageEnglish
JournalOrganization Theory
Issue number2
Number of pages21
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2022


  • Autocommunication
  • Inventiveness
  • Preparatory talk
  • Self-discipline
  • Ventriloquism

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