four Organizational change success as a communicational agency effect. Structuration, textualizing, and networking


This study intends to analyze the decisive importance of internal organizational communication to the success of an extraordinary organizational change that was undertaken in a factory owned by a multinational group. This rapid, deep, and wide change was based on the implementation of management methods, which reinforces both the importance of the relationship between human and nonhuman agencies and the importance of communicational agency. The theoretical framework offers an eclectic and multitheoretical approach that is based on the structuration theory, actor- network theory, and co-orientation theory, which permits to understand the importance of communication agency in the complex processes of change.

Keywords: Agency, authority, responsibility, empowerment, resources, technologies, management method


The literature on organizational change considers organizational communication. However, tendentiously, organizational communication is regarded as a process that supports and enables change, but this literature does not sufficiently consider the relationship between communication and performance, because it provides a limited connection between communication processes and other organizational processes. Hence, the present study intends to analyze communication based on a different theoretical and empirical approach. Concretely, the perspective employed in the present analysis is based on the following assumptions: Ontologically, organizational change is a social, organizational, technological, and communicational construction, and communication is both a context-dependent process and an agentic performance of human and nonhuman actants; epistemologically, organizational change is both a cause and an effect of communication, and communication can be understood as both an inducer and an amplifier of organizational change; methodologically, organizational change can be analyzed as the practical use of codes to inform and share data, and meanings and communication can be addressed using constructivist methods.

To analyze organizational communication, I adopted a theoretical framework of analysis that integrates concepts borrowed from the structuration theory (ST), actor-network theory (ANT), and co-orientation theory (CT). Beyond their focus on signification and communication, these theories possess epistemological commensurability, as they deny the macro-micro dichotomy and the structure-agency dichotomy (Giddens, 1979: 76-79; 1984: 139-144; Latour, 2005a: 202-220; Law, 1994: 56-62; Taylor and Van Every, 2000: 143, 154; 2011: 244). Beyond this epistemological commensurability, they also share a focus on communication issues and represent the most recent and systematized ways to analyze communication associated with change.

ST contributes to the analysis of (re)production signification, which is fundamental to the analysis of changes in meaning that support effective change in organizational processes. ANT contributes to the analysis of communication performed by human and nonhuman actants, which is very helpful for understanding central change processes, such as mechanization and informatization. CT contributes to the analysis of nonhuman agency based on texts, which are essential to define, orient, and legitimate organizational changes. In contrast to ANT and CT, ST does not account for organizational phenomena, but its inclusion in the theoretical framework is fully justifiable because it provides a framework for the conceptualization of agency in the other theories and provides a dedicated theory for structural (re)production, which can be applied to the analysis of organizational issues, and there are many organizational studies rooted in its conceptualization of the signification dimension of communication. To the best of my knowledge, such a theoretical triangulation has never been performed, as I reviewed 129 journals that were included in the "Social Science Citation Index," up to the year 2014, and focused on one or more of the relevant research issues (organizational, management, innovation, change, business, and communication). No papers provided an analytical comparison of the explanatory capacity of these theories.

This reflection aims (1) to understand the role of communication in a deep, quick, and wide organizational change undertaken in a threatening external and internal environment, on which organizational survival depends; (2) to understand the relationships between changes to production processes and changes to communication processes, which are mediated by management models; and (3) to validate this theoretical triangulation as an appropriate framework for the analysis of organizational change. Hence, I proposed the analysis of "what" has changed (content), "how" management changes and communication changes are related (a description of the process, restricted to their consequential relationship), and "why" the change was successful (an explanation of their consequential relationship). Therefore, this case study is explanatory in nature (Yin, 1994: 6). This research is based on a case study strategy, and it must satisfy certain requirements that are specific to the study of this nature, which is confirmed later (see Section 4.5).

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