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Examples as persuasive argument in popular management literature
Umeå University, Faculty of Arts, Department of culture and media studies.
2008 (English)In: Discourse & Communication, ISSN 1750-4813, Vol. 2, 243-269 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

In this article we take the use of examples as a means to explore the processes of persuasion and consensus-construction involved in the legitimation of popular management knowledge. Examples, as concrete instances or events used to substantiate a wider argument, have been variedly regarded in different research traditions. Classical logic and rhetoric have considered them an inferior form of argument, useful for pedagogic or public debate but inadequate for higher forms of thought. This spirit still permeates much psychological research on communication, where the great persuasive import of examples has been contrasted with more scientific and formal resources for argumentation. Considered in this light, the contingent and episodic nature of examples seems to make them cognitively inferior to explicit statements of general rules. However, various strands of research on the nature of scientific knowledge have shown that implicit forms of knowledge are an integral part of scientific expertise. Examples may thus be more central to disciplinary thought than the conventional normative view seems to allow. In this spirit, we explore the use of examples in a hotly contested field, that of popular discourse on business and management. The profusion of examples in this kind of writing has been often noted, and almost as often criticized. We seek to explore more fully how these examples are deployed, examining the discursive devices that mark examples within the development of the text, their function as rhetorical moves, and their role in presenting arguments that are never otherwise made explicit.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Sage , 2008. Vol. 2, 243-269 p.
Keyword [en]
disciplinary conventions, exemplification, management discourse, postmodern management, tacit knowledge
National Category
Communication Studies
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-44143DOI: 10.1177/1750481308091907OAI: diva2:418685
Available from: 2011-06-09 Created: 2011-05-23 Last updated: 2012-09-21Bibliographically approved

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Lischinsky, Alon
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