What Performativity for a Subsidiary Discourse

Friday, 20 July 2018: 08:45
Oral Presentation
Benoit CORDELIER, Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM), Canada
In what Chia and Langley (2004) or Langley and Tsoukas (2010) may call a weak process approach, we consider that the organizational change process is articulated with artifacts (Groleau, 2008) that reflexively embed social practices (Orlikowski, 1992, 2000) and ideologies or discourses (Gee, 2014; Mumby, 1988, 2015), even if they are transitory and linked to the length of the project. As ephemeral as those practices are, they create tensions, even more when they correspond to concrete action systems (Crozier & Friedberg, 1977) that are used to resolve discursive antinomies. We study this tensions through the dialectic the actors raised between the weaknesses of the implementation of Electronic Medical Record in a health organization. The tentative of resistance from some employees led us to identify two modalities of Discourse that we offer to call dominant and subsidiary. As a matter of fact, even if the dominant Discourse among employees is to complain about the imperfection of and the problems caused by the new system, it is their subsidiary Discourse that actually reflects the best their engagement and converges with the main orientation of the organization and the announced aim of the project. Organizations grow through contradictions (Engeström, 1987, 2013) or controversies (Callon, 1986, 2006) that help actors make sense of their actions (Weick, 1979; Sutcliffe & Obstfeld, 2005). But they also need to agree on some of their actions. The collective sensemaking allows then the actors to share a same narrative that accounts for the organizational conflicts as well as for the build up of a social cohesion. But it does so through the development of a collective memory without homogenizing the individual points of view. In this case, the employees’ subsidiary Discourse about the project was a way for them to lessen the inner dissonances they may feel and perceive.