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The multivocal – univocal dialectic: How the many voices of organizational members are translated in to one voice and vice versa
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Informatics and Media, Media and Communication Studies.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-8880-1088
2018 (English)Conference paper, Oral presentation with published abstract (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

Technological developments continue to have a vast impact on contemporary organizations. These developments are constant and often rapid and thus require that organizational members continuously adjust their assignments in order to meet external as well as internal demands. In order to do so, members need to have mandate to make decisions concerning their specific role and assignments. In addition, they need to have a good understanding of the organization’s overall aim and goals. Hence, many contemporary organizations rely on a horizontal organization of work where the local experts acquire authority. Organizational advancements are for example usually a result of local expertise within a particular community of practice and it is in this community of practice that the knowledge and expertise is transmitted and preserved (Barley, 1996). Sharing authority within an organization and aiming for a more empowered and engaged workforce requires an enhanced focus on communication where the univocal voice is translated in to the many communities of practice within the organization while also aiming for the reverse, i.e. translating the multivocal voices in to one voice, i.e. the univocal, that speaks for and represents the organization. This may lead to a competition between the local communities of practice and the unified organization, i.e. between authority of expertise and authority of position, and involves the struggle between centralization and decentralization as well as been stability and change. This paper explores how tensions arise and are enacted in situations where the aim is to translate the many voices of the communities of practice into one organization and vice versa, i.e. to translate the unified organization’s identity and aim into the many communities of practice, and to study tensions in situations where the aim is to diminish the gap between the senior managers and all other organizational members.

The Communicative Constitution of Organizations (CCO) perspective (Ashcraft, Kuhn, & Cooren, 2009; Brummans, Cooren, Robichaud, & Taylor, 2014; Cooren, Kuhn, Cornelissen, & Clark, 2011 ; Kuhn, 2008; McPhee & Zaug, 2000; Putnam & Nicotera, 2009) informs our work.

Observations were conducted of six workshops aiming to provide opportunities for communicative interactions where the focus is on the negotiation between various voices and the translation of the univocal in to the multivocal and vice versa.

The results point to the importance of attending to the tensions that emerge, are omnipresent and develop during the negotiations and translations between voice and voices. These tensions always have an impact on the organizing processes and if handled well may contribute to successful changes.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2018.
Keywords [en]
Univocal, multivocal, authority of position, authority of expertise, the communicative constitution of organizations (CCO), interactions
National Category
Communication Studies
Research subject
Media and Communication Studies
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-371904OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-371904DiVA, id: diva2:1274775
Conference
International Communication Association (ICA) 68th Annual Conference, Prague, Czech Republic 24-28 May, 2018
Available from: 2019-01-03 Created: 2019-01-03 Last updated: 2019-09-26Bibliographically approved

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https://www.nordicom.gu.se/sv/medieforskning/events/ica-68th-annual-conference

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Monstad, Therese

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Citation style
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