Conversational Paradigm LO5744

Mariann Jelinek (
Tue, 20 Feb 1996 09:51:15 -0500

Replying to LO5713 --

Don DeGuerre's comments caught my eye:
> " We use language just as the
>carpenter uses a hammer. That is, to test the density, resistance,
>texture of the reality (wood or culture or other person(s) etc.) in the
>first couple of taps, and then to drive the nail home to shape or form a
>reality. This happens constantly in rhetorical communication. I think
>this is a new paradigm that is worth exploring further --- "How is meaning
>socially constructed in organizations (societies)?"

Indeed, doesn't the whole business of organizational action - as
in people inside organizations figuring out what to do, how, and why -
center on the kind of collective sense-making, exploration and mutuality
Don's wonderful image evokes? It seems to me that conversations (including
in this idea not only words and exchanges of sentences orally, but also
gestures, written materials and data, and other exchanges of meaningful
data) are how we share information that individuals acquire, mutually
shape insights via persuasion and argument, and eventually negotiate our
expectations and plans of joint action inside organizations. The
conversation metaphor also evokes the biases, misunderstandings and
difficulties that can arise - because one party "gets no respect," because
another lacks appropriate perspective, or because "groupthink" blinds a
group to what seems obvious to others, for example.

Thanks, Don!

Mariann Jelinek, Ph.D.
Richard C. Kraemer Professor of Business
Graduate School of Business Administration
College of William and Mary
Williamsburg, VA 23185

FAX: (804) 229-6135

-- (Mariann Jelinek)

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