A dual constitutive communication-based model for managerial practice diffusion
Thesis or dissertation
- © 2009 Wenxian Sun. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the written permission of the copyright holder.
In the current research of managerial practice diffusion, discussions on how to understand and manage diffusion changes have been made primarily by drawing on institutional, rhetorical and systems theories for the reason that each of them seems to suggest a “mechanism” for diffusion. For instance, institutional theory suggests that diffusion is a changing process during which an organisation will continuously adapt itself to the outside environment in order to keep itself survival. Based on a rhetorical perspective, for which rhetoric plays an important role in diffusion, the achievement of a practice's diffusion/adoption relies on a three-period rhetorical justification which follows a Pathos-Logos-Ethos sequence. In the domain of systems theories, if diffusion is taken as a social system's reproduction, communication thus has a unique position in constituting such a system through autopoiesis (self-creation).
Through comparing the above diffusion “mechanisms” suggested by different theories, it is found that some understandings for diffusion are shared in common. For example, a practice has to be legitimised in order to be diffused; communications for diffusions involve a process of filtering and creating meanings. Moreover, through analysing these “mechanisms”, the advantages and inadequacies of each can be recognised. Based on the analysis, the most outstanding issue identified is that for understanding and managing diffusion changes, a constitutive ontology that enables explorations on both people and diffusion circumstances (i.e. an organisation and its environment) is required. In this thesis, such an ontology is believed to be a social-constructionist-based one.
A social-constructionist perspective assumes that the concepts of object and subject are connected in a “duality” rather than a “dualism”, and according to which, a practice is constituted during its diffusion, or in other words, it is constituted in people's action of teaching and learning this practice. Furthermore, such a constitutive process is accomplished in people's diffusion communications, which simultaneously construct a circumstance that either enables or constrains a diffusion change.
In the discussion of how a constitutive communication works for diffusion, “communication duality” is defined in the sense that communication is a diffusion tool for justifying a practice which can be structured in a rhetorical way; it also selects and processes meanings of a practice relying on people's existing knowledgeabilities as a sensemaking-sensegiving (SM-SG) process.
Consequently, an incorporated practice diffusion model based on a social-constructionist perspective is built which aims to suggest how a diffusion change can be enacted as well as how it can be analysed in practical terms.
In the light of social constructionism, for which a researcher's ontology and epistemology jointly build each other, this thesis applies a self-ethnography strategy which follows a “SISI” (Survey-Immerse-Share-Integrate) methodology to analyse a real case of practice diffusion. The author's personal insights from this study suggest how a practice diffusion can be improved, as well as how a diffusion model can be enriched. In addition, the author's self-reflections on this research present how a communication research for practice diffusion could “constitute” a practice, and hence to help or inhibit its diffusion.
- Business School, The University of Hull
- Córdoba, José-Rodrigo
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