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Title: The Role of Conversation in the Social Construction of Change
Contributor(s): O'Neill, Alan Burnell (author); Jabri, Muayyad  (supervisor); Sheridan, Alison  (supervisor)orcid 
Conferred Date: 2010
Copyright Date: 2009
Open Access: Yes
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Abstract: This thesis contributes to the growing body of research and theory development built around the premise that communication, in the form of ordinary talk or conversation, is the primary agency for the formation and ongoing function of organizational life and in particular how ordinary talk or utterances contribute to processual change. The objective of this thesis is twofold: 1) to examine how ordinary and naturally occurring talk or utterances contribute to the process of change, and 2) to examine how change is legitimized in utterances or talk, to either support and embrace change, or to ignore or marginalize the potential or case for change. The study's focus is on the role of conversation within and between groups in a business context and in particular it extends and further develops Tuckman's work on developmental sequence in small groups and Berger and Luckmann's four levels of legitimation in the social construction of knowledge situating both in a conversational framework. The site for observing the role of conversation in the social construction of change is based on a twenty eight month ethnographical study in an Asia Pacific property service company. The field work is presented as a case built around nine vignettes that give voice to various groups and individuals that participated in the region wide change initiative over the twenty eight month period. The original work this thesis offers is a model that demonstrates the non-linear, messy, emergent and polyphonic nature of this change process along with a synthesis that situates Tuckman's stages of group development model and Berger and Luckmann's four levels of legitimation within a conversational framework. This conversational framework accounts for how change potentials evolve from initial ideas to full assimilation as a result of participants inhabiting four recognizable types of conversation space (commencing, confronting, conforming, and coalescing conversations). The processual nature of change from potential to assimulation is brought about through active participation with others who are fully involved in inhabiting each of the corresponding conversational spaces that open up the potential for change.
Publication Type: Thesis Doctoral
Field of Research Codes: 150399 Business and Management not elsewhere classified
Socio-Economic Outcome Codes: 910402 Management
Rights Statement: Copyright 2009 - Alan Burnell O'Neill
HERDC Category Description: T2 Thesis - Doctorate by Research
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Appears in Collections:Thesis Doctoral
UNE Business School

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