Sub-theme 41: Looking for Thorns, Paradoxes and Blind Spots as Triggers for Reflection about Research and Practice: Discourses and Practices of Change and Stability [merged with sub-theme 30]

Karl-Heinz Pogner
Copenhagen Business School, Denmark
Kristina Lauche
Radboud University Nijmegen, The Netherlands
Anne Pässilä
Lappeenranta University of Technology, Finland

Call for Papers

The state of art in the fields of change management and change communication is shaped by buzzwords, but also by paradoxes and blind spots. Tools and prescriptions about change and change communication are legion, although studies about how they affect the daily practices and discourses of managers, employees or civil servants are scarce.

"Change" has become not only an ideological catchword, but also a panacea for all kinds of crises. The change discourse has largely turned into a hegemonic discourse that suppresses other voices focusing on continuity and stability. Models and tools for organizational change are ubiquitous in the research and management literature and, in particular, in the consultancy industry. However, these models and tools do have significant effects in day-to-day organizational practices and discourses, as they partake in staging, enacting, framing, and implementing given change initiatives. We aim at fostering a discussion of their performativity in day-to-day organizational practices and discourses.

Our sub-theme focuses on the interplay of change & stability with other discourses and practices like strategic communication, management and leadership, sense-making, sense-breaking, and sense-giving. Such processes are socially constructed in the daily work and discourses of organizational members. But, they might also be pursued and eventually achieved intentionally in the negotiations of meanings and sense making/s of executive and middle managers.

Generally, management prefers to frame the future in terms of change, whereas employees tend to stress the need for stability and continuity – even when they align with change goals. By change promoters, critical voices are mostly seen as "thorns", i.e. obstacles that hinder the smooth advancement of change processes and have to be "pulled out". By putting change management and change communication high on the agenda, organizations may risk setting aside or silencing the management of continuity and stability.

We call for papers that investigate the interplay of change and stability in terms of innovation, technology, administration, (self-)management, organizational discourse, and culture. In order to investigate the dualities and paradoxes of change and stability, we want to investigate the role of "thorns" instead of just pulling them out. We call especially for multidisciplinary research built on different ontological and epistemological assumptions, that may advance theoretical and methodological perspectives.

Karl-Heinz Pogner is Associate Professor and Academic Program Director (Business Administration and Organizational Communication) at Copenhagen Business School, Denmark. He has a special interest in organizational communication; his research is focused on change and stability, co-creation, and ext production as social interaction.
Kristina Lauche is the Chair of Organizational Development and Design at Radboud University Nijmegen, The Netherlands. Her research addresses coordination practices across boundaries, organizational change towards sustainability, and innovating as upward influencing processes. She draws on practice approaches to study how materiality and social interactions mediate agency in organizations.
Anne Pässilä is Senior Researcher at Lappeenranta University of Technology, Lahti School of Innovation, Finland, Visiting Research Fellow of Chester University, UK, and drama and theatre practitioner at Susinno Ltd., Finland. She has extensive experience of research-based theatre as a support in developing shared understanding in innovation management. She investigates approaches for employee involvement that use non-textual methods and publishes on interpretative approaches to innovation.