Theoretical framework

Agency, encounters, communication, and organization

Agency is fundamental to the existence of organizations, as it performs organizational reproduction and change. According to ST, agency is the transformative capacity that allows agents to be able "to make a difference" in reality, which cannot be confused with action (the continuous flow of monitored activities), intent (the search for predicted effects), or rationalization (the explanation of action) (Giddens, 1984: 1-16), and agents use resources as a means of transformative capacity (Giddens, 1979: 92, 93; 1984: 258-262). Thus, applying agency refers to transforming reality, and being an agent means being endowed with transformative capacity. However, this perspective of resources as a potential means of agency reduces the agentic capacity of technology to change organizational communication, as emphasized by CT and ANT.

According to ANT, agency can be the resource or result of action (Latour, 1994: 33); to be an actant means being able to affect another actant's course of action (Latour, 2005a), and therefore, "to do, is to make happen" (Latour, 1996: 237). Actants are transformed into actors when they acquire a figuration, a theory of action that mediates and explains their agency (Latour, 2005a: 71, 57, 58), and actors arise as a result of a battle or a negotiation (Callon and Latour, 1981: 279). Thus, to be an actant is to be a carrier of change. However, this perspective does not distinguish actants according to their organizational nature, which makes it difficult to analyze the diversity of agentic capacity at different organizational levels.

According to CT, agency means "to make a difference," can be performed by entities with different ontologies (Cooren, 2006: 82), and can be individual or collective (Taylor and Van Every, 2011: 62). Agency is co-oriented and allows continuous communication (Taylor, 2006: 147), as well as establishes relationships between agents around objects toward which they are mutually oriented (Taylor and Van Every, 2000: 89), and co-orientation is a dynamic process of conversation that allows the construction of texts by negotiating meanings (Cooren, 2006: 13). Texts have agentic power (Cooren, 2004; Katambwe and Taylor, 2006: 55, 56; Taylor and Van Every, 2011: 94, 95) and constitute the cement of organization (Taylor and Van Every, 2011: 118, 119), the basis of communication (Taylor et al., 2001: 74). Thus, the condition of being an agent is being endowed with transformative capacity, and the condition of being a human agent is being endowed with relational and transformative capacities. However, this perspective tends to restrict the agency of nonhuman entities to texts, which weakens the explanation of the agentic capacity of nontextual entities.

Agency is actualized in encounters. According to ST, social structure is constructed in daily communicational encounters (Giddens, 1979: 97-99; 1984: 31-34) and even casual social encounters constitute elements of social structures (1979: 88). According to ANT, face-to-face encounters between intentional and purposive agents are the site of social science (Latour, 2005a: 192), but there is nothing especially local or human in such intersubjective encounters (Latour, 2005b: 18), which means they are not only locals nor just human. According to CT, interaction through language occurs in informal or formal encounters (Taylor and Van Every, 2000: 35, 36) and encounters produce unpredictable conversations between the actors and trigger unexpected communicational events (Guney, 2006: 28), which means that encounters allow for communicational uncertainty. Thus, encounters are fundamental to communication processes and organizational change. These theories recognize the importance of encounters to communication, but they seem to be excessively optimistic regarding the actants' freedom to construct the encounters in which they are involved. In fact, these theories devalue management models and organizational forms. These considerations lead to the formulation of the following hypotheses:

H1: The management models affect encounters and communicational agency.

H2: The management models affect the ontological diversity of the actants involved, which changes communication.

Communication is a constituent of an organization. According to ST, signification is a dimension of social structures (Giddens, 1979: 39, 82; Giddens, 1984: 73) and is structured through language (Giddens, 1979: 106, 107), which is the basis of communication (Giddens, 1984: 264). Interpretative schemas are the modality of signification, and these schemas are standardized elements of the stock of knowledge that are applied by actors in their interactions (Giddens, 1979: 83). The literature has understood the concept of interpretative schemes in different ways: representations of the structures of signification or organizational rules (Orlikowski, 1992: 404), categories and assumptions (Orlikowski, 2000), results of the interaction between old and new understandings (Bartunek, 1984), values and interests (Ranson et al., 1980), social cognitive schemata (Leblebici et al., 1983: 166), and cognitive constructions (Suchan, 2001: 136). For the purposes of this study, I regard interpretative schemas as organizational concepts that are cognitive and normative, theoretical and practical, the use of which permits the production and sharing of meanings and evaluations of organizational situations and transformations. These theoretical assumptions lead to the formulation of the following hypothesis:

H3: Changes in interpretative schemas alter human actants' capacity for meaning.

According to ANT, communication is the association of motion between different ontologically compatible and networked entities. Society and technology are ontologically compatible (Latour, 1994), and the breaking of ontological barriers allows the admittance of a greater diversity of actants in the network (Lee and Stenner, 1999: 110). Society is not a domain but a movement of reassociation or reassembly that is operated by translations (Latour, 2005a: 7-9), sets of relationships between different projects, objectives, or objects (Latour, 1987), which are connections that convey transformation and may generate traceable associations (Latour, 2005a: 108). Network communication involves intermediaries, which are entities that convey messages without transforming them, and mediators, which are entities that transform, translate, distort, and modify the messages they convey (Latour, 2005a: 39). Thus, ANT emphasizes the participation of different actants in communication processes that take place along networks through mediations and intermediations. However, as the attribution of meaning is an integral element of social practices (Giddens, 1979: 39) and message reception is always an act of codification (Thayer, 1968: 27), intermediation is restrictive to nonhuman actants. These theoretical assumptions lead to the formulation of the following hypothesis:

H4: Increasing the number of nonhuman actants improves both the certainty of a communication process and the conformity of human practices.

According to CT, communication is the relationship between different ontologically compatible entities that is oriented toward sharing and solving practical problems. The organization is functional and pragmatically communicational, and communication is always organizational (Taylor and Cooren, 1997: 435, 436); communication is the very condition for an organization's existence, as it circumscribes and instates the organization (Taylor, 1993: 112, 113) and organizes and creates order (Cooren, 2000) through the processes of transforming texts into conversations (Cooren, 2001; Taylor et al., 1996) and conversations into texts (Taylor and Van Every, 2000: 210, 211). The term "emergent organization" refers to an organization that is based on an ongoing social process of interpretation (Taylor et al., 2001) through the daily sensemaking produced by its members (Weick, 1995), as the organization only exists in discourse (Taylor and Cooren, 1997: 428, 429) and emerges in communication (Taylor and Van Every, 2000: 4). Organizations generate texts, verbal or nonverbal, written or nonwritten (Taylor, 1993: 219), and actants may have a different ontological nature, textual or nontextual (Cooren et al., 2011: 1152). However, despite this epistemological enlargement for texts and this ontological opening for actants, CT tends to focus solely on textual communication performed by textual actants, which implies the overvaluation of the agentic capacity of texts and the devaluation of the agentic capacity of nonhuman and nontextual actants. These theoretical considerations lead to the formulation of the following hypothesis:

H5: The creation of new texts supports and animates change in a system of organizational processes.

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