Talk-action Dynamics: Modalities of Aspirational Talk

Lars Thøger Christensen, Mette Morsing*, Ole Thyssen

*Corresponding author for this work

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This paper investigates talk-action dynamics in the context of organizations, focusing in particular on situations where the talk concerns complex organizational aspirations, that is, situations where the implied action takes considerable effort to unfold and therefore extends into an unknown future.
Using corporate social responsibility (CSR) as recurrent exemplar, we address talk-action dynamics in four different modalities of aspirational CSR talk: exploration, formulation, implementation and evaluation. By conceptualizing the precarious relationship between talk and action in each of these modalities, the paper disentangles talk and action, all the while acknowledging that the two are
mutually intertwined. Hereby, the paper extends theories of communicative performativity, recovering the perlocutionary dimension and focusing on uptake beyond the moment in which the speech act is uttered.
Original languageEnglish
JournalOrganization Studies
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)407-427
Number of pages21
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2021

Bibliographical note

Published online: December 10, 2019


  • Talk and action
  • Speech acts
  • Aspirational talk
  • Performativity
  • CSR

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