The broader picture: A review of key themes

Embarras de richesses

It was noted in the previous section that discourse permeates organizational life and that organizations, in turn, are ubiquitous, so that we are constantly steeped in organizational discourse. Yet sadly, as always in empirical work, not everything that one feels should be studied actually can be. Certain research questions may have to remain unanswered because of legal, ethical or practical hurdles. Even so, a wide variety of organizational genres are open to scrutiny and have indeed been studied through the language lens: for example, mission statements (Koller 2011), annual reports (de Groot 2014), job interviews (Roberts and Campbell 2005; Lipovsky 2006; Lipovsky 2008; Roberts 2012), meetings (Rogerson-Revell 2011; Angouri and Marra 2011; Clarke, Kwon and Wodak 2012; Kwon, Clarke, and Wodak 2014), blogs (Puschmann and Hagelmoser 2014) and corporate apologies posted on Twitter (Page 2014).

Furthermore, rather than homing in on particular genres, organizational discourse research can also be organized around themes, such as gender (Mullany 2007), emotions in the workplace (Boudens 2005), humour (Heiss and Carmack 2012), disagreement (Angouri 2012), leadership (Saito 2011; Genoe McLaren 2013), multilingualism (Gunnarsson 2014), corporate social responsibility (Brennan, Merkl-Davies, and Beelitz 2013), organizational change (Airo, Rasila, and Nenonen 2012; McClellan 2014), or indeed various combinations of such themes (e.g., Mullany 2004; Ladegaard 2012). The point of listing all these themes here, together with a few (egregiously selective) references, is to give readers a sense of the richness and variety of the field, and to suggest a few entry points, should they wish to forge their own path through it. Two uber-themes that have been investigated particularly widely and deeply are identity and power, and we will look at these in more detail shortly.

Finally, the perspective applied may be neither genre- nor theme-based, but train the analytic lens on specific linguistic devices, such as metaphor, or forms of representation, such as narrative. Both will also be discussed further below. Of course, in actual research projects, “themes” and “devices” may be conjoined, as in cases where the role of metaphor for identity construction is discussed (see, for instance, Jacobs, Oliver, and Heracleous 2013). What is more, looking through the linguistic lens also enables one to identify more fine-grained levels of meaningmaking, such as syntactic and lexical choices (Mautner 2016).

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