How Can Pluralistic Organizations Proceed with Strategic Change? A Processual Account of Rhetorical Contestation, Convergence, and Partial Agreement in a Nordic City Organization

Virpi Sorsa, Eero Vaara

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

Abstract

This study examines how pluralistic organizations confronting fundamental differences in values can proceed with strategic change. By drawing on a longitudinal case analysis of strategic change in a Nordic city organization, we show how the proponents and challengers play a “rhetorical game” in which they simultaneously promote their own value-based interests and ideas and seek ways to enable change. In particular, we identify a pattern in which the discussion moved from initial contestation through gradual convergence to increasing agreement. In addition, we elaborate on four rhetorical practices used in this rhetorical game: voicing own arguments, appropriation of others’ arguments, consensus argumentation, and collective we argumentation. By so doing, our study contributes to research on strategic change in pluralistic organizations by offering a nuanced account of the use of rhetoric when moving from contestation to convergence and partial agreement. Furthermore, by detailing specific types of rhetorical practices that play a crucial role in strategy making, our study advances research on the role of rhetoric in strategy process and practice research more generally.
Original languageEnglish
Peer-reviewed scientific journalOrganization Science
Pages (from-to)1-26
Number of pages26
ISSN1047-7039
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 12.03.2020
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article - refereed

Keywords

  • 512 Business and Management
  • change
  • pluralistic organization
  • rhetoric
  • strategic change
  • strategy
  • strategy as practice
  • strategy process

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