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Popular management discourses as constituents of organizations: A case study of Stephen R. Covey's discourses on organizational conflict management
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Education.
2015 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (One Year)), 10 credits / 15 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

The aim of this study is to examine what current discourses within the expanding popular management culture carry to organizations in terms of worldview, knowledge view, ideologies, norms, and values, and how these discourses shape leader’s roles in modern organizations. A case study is conducted on a conflict management book by a popular management guru, Stephen R. Covey. The three main study questions concern: 1) ontology and epistemology found in the discourses, 2) how the ideas of ‘right’ vs. ‘wrong’ conflict management strategies are constructed by the author, and 3) how the ideas of the ‘good’ and ‘bad’ leader are constructed. The study applies different discourse analytical and poststructuralistic tools combined in a bricolage, to analyze and deconstruct Stephen R. Covey’s (2011) managerial discourses in his book “The 3rd Alternative - solving life’s most difficult problems”. The study result shows that popular managerial discourses such as Covey’s lack solid scientific ground and carry institutional myths, ideology and normative religious beliefs to the learning organizations. The analyzed managerial discourses carry an underlying naive realistic worldview, and belief that there are some universally applicable correct principals concerning conflict resolution, and that there are also some principles and paradigms that are fundamentally wrong. Consequently, leaders who use the ‘right’ conflict management strategy are characterized as good and those who use the ‘wrong’ strategies are characterized as bad leaders. The conclusion of the study is that such non-scientific managerial discourses are given constituating power in organizations, generating a simplistic, ideological and normative view of organizational life, while creating myths about how the organizational reality should be perceived and how a leader should operate in it. It is furthermore argued that even a myth, or an ideal, can sometimes be useful to create a necessary change in an organization and move it in the desired direction.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Keyword [en]
organizational learning, consulting, Foucault, Derrida
National Category
Social Sciences Pedagogy
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-106921OAI: diva2:845758
Subject / course
Available from: 2015-08-13 Created: 2015-08-13 Last updated: 2015-08-13Bibliographically approved

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