Meaningful change: making sense of the discourse of the language of change

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dc.contributor.advisor Mills, Jean Helms, 1954- Thurlow, Amy 2010-08-30T14:49:25Z 2010-08-30T14:49:25Z 2007
dc.description 233 leaves ;29 cm. en_CA
dc.description Includes abstract and appendices
dc.description Includes bibliographical references (leaves 223-233)
dc.description.abstract This thesis is a poststructuralist account of the language of organizational change and its significance in producing and maintaining a discourse of change. Approaching change management as a process which has emerged from a specific set of language, beliefs and events, this study draws upon the work of Foucault (1966; 1972; 1978) to locate the discourse of the language of change among other social discourses of organization. From that perspective, the purpose of this thesis is to explore the effects of the discourse of the language of change within two organizational settings. Specifically, this analysis asks the question, how does the discourse of the language of change become meaningful to individuals in organizations? In the investigation of this question I offer a discussion of the ways in which individuals make sense of change and experience the discursive power of the language of change at work, and the implications for the management of change. To most effectively analyse discourse within these two organizations, a Canadian health centre and a community college, I have used a framework of critical sensemaking (Mills & Helms Mills, 2004; Mills, 2003) to focus on social psychological properties. I have also used techniques of critical discourse analysis (van Dijk, 1993) in order to emphasize power and privilege in the production and reproduction of the language of organizational change. By focussing on language and power as central to the analysis, this method creates a bridge between the broader socio/cultural discourse and the local sites. Through this method of analysis, this thesis makes four important contributions to our current knowledge of organizational change. First, it responds to the need for methods which incorporate agency in the study of the process of change (Caldwell, 2005). Second, to support this focus on individuals in the process of change, this thesis provides an empirical investigation of the discursive objects produced by, and producing, the language of organizational change. Third, it deals with the under-theorization of "change" within the organizational change literature (Grant, Michelson, Oswick, & Wailes, 2005; Grant, Wailes, Michelson, Brewer, & Hall, 2002; Pettigrew, Woodman, & Cameron, 2001; Tsoukas & Chia, 2002) by problematizating change through its contextualization within discursive practices. Fourth, by engaging participants in a process of active "sensemaking" (Weick, 1995) as they share their narratives of change, this study contributes to the creation of space for multiple voices in the investigation of the language of organizational change. en_CA
dc.description.provenance Submitted by Erica Penton ( on 2010-08-30T14:49:25Z No. of bitstreams: 0 en
dc.description.provenance Made available in DSpace on 2010-08-30T14:49:25Z (GMT). No. of bitstreams: 0 en
dc.language.iso en en_CA
dc.publisher Halifax, N.S.: Saint Mary's University
dc.subject.lcc HD58.8.T58 2007
dc.subject.lcsh Organizational change
dc.subject.lcsh Organizational change -- Case studies
dc.subject.lcsh Critical discourse analysis
dc.subject.lcsh Language in the workplace
dc.subject.lcsh Sociolinguistics
dc.title Meaningful change: making sense of the discourse of the language of change en_CA
dc.type Text en_CA Doctor of Philosophy in Business Administration (Management) Doctoral Management Saint Mary's University (Halifax, N.S.)
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