Framing or Praying? on the Paradox of the Discourse of Innovation.

Wednesday, 13 July 2016: 14:15
Location: Hörsaal 18 (Juridicum)
Oral Presentation
Christiane SCHNELL, Institute of Social Research at the Goethe-University Frankfurt, Frankfurt am Main, Germany
The paper is based on a field study conducted in the financial sector in Germany. In particular the development of a private bank is recapitulated in respect of the role of language within a process of organizational changes. The main argument to elaborate is that a discourse of innovation could promote collective participation in the realization of a projected organizational future. But at the same time innovation-speech might lead to the opposite effect and rise fears and resistance against organizational changes. The balance between promotive and hindering effects and the paradox of success and failure of the discourse of innovation is reconstructed and illustrated in the paper on the basis of the empirical case: A middle sized bank was forced to develop a new business model for being able to survive within a highly competitive banking system. The strategy was based on the combination of retail-rationalization on the one hand and trustworthiness based on close relations to the customers within a socially controlled context, on the other hand. This business model was promoted as highly innovative and beneficial for both, customers and employees of the bank. It went successful even through and after the financial crisis, but started to lose effectiveness while the bank was growing and social relations - within the bank but also related to the customers - became more formalized. Instead of framing social action by a shared vocabulary the discourse of innovation turned into an abstract mantra of the management.