Organizational Discources for Managers – A Useful Concept?

by Jonathan Tyler |


Organizational discourse is an area of study which regards the role of dialogue and communication in a group dynamic. While the study of discourse dates back to the rhetoric of the ancient Greeks, it’s taken on a whole new perspective in the context of modern business operations.


Discourse and discourse

However, discourse and communication are different concepts. Communication is a broader term that goes beyond the specific idioms of your company’s discourse, which can be shaped by industry jargon, social backgrounds, leadership style, and other factors. Discourse is often further broken down into talk and text in a social sense vs conversation that is professional in nature as part of business operations. You may have noticed that they can be distinct from one another.

You can also see that conversation represents interaction, while written information in the form of diagrams, reports, proposals, and other communication, including audio and visual materials, can be seen as “completed” organizational discourse. In many cases, such as job interviews or performance reviews, discourse is a combination of both, as such encounters more or less follow an established template.

Thus organizational discourse is often seen as an umbrella phrase for a range of methods and perspectives. Examining discourse in your organization will often come down to a combination of conversational analysis and business-specific processes. Analyzing this discourse has the ultimate goal of providing more effective channels of communication.


Organizational Change

Creating changes in business operations requires you have an effective framework of textual and spoken discourse. Viewing change dynamics in terms of organizational discourse has generally been overlooked. Too often informational content is seen as more important than how ideas are communicated as a business-centric method. Your discourse, whether it be hierarchical, technical, or project-based, directly impacts change.

Change, and the discourse involved, must be multi-level, political, reactive, iterative, and quantifiable based on numerous perspectives. Analysis takes into account both the language being used and the information exchanged, but also the progress that follows every exchange of talk and text in the course of your organization’s procedures. This is especially important as social, business, and technological language continue to evolve.


How understanding improves leadership

Understanding organizational discourse is a progressive tool in virtually all aspects of business, from customer service to training, conferencing, marketing, human resources, and a range of business initiatives. Analysis of this discourse can reveal a great deal about how your organization’s leadership and collaboration affect productivity. While it’s impossible to create a 100 percent efficient channel across large organizations and the complexities of human character, there is always room for improvement. Considering how much time is spent on human interaction, more efficient dialogues benefit your bottom line.

Internal discourse can have a profound impact on management. Consider from your own experience how difficult it is to get support for your ideas. Typically, there are multiple levels of authority for seeking approval, and multiple stakeholders seeking specific value and unwilling to commit resources to even the design phase.

Often it’s not a personal failing at communication, but a lack of trust, overly cautious view of risk, and no concise decision-making within the organizational structure. Understanding what discourse takes place, and where and how it’s most effective, can spell the difference between your success and failure.

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