Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to re‐conceptualize the relations between rhetorical strategies and material practices in the processes whereby leaders create or change organizational cultures. Design/methodology/approach – The authors compare and contrast two broad perspectives on cultural change in organizations. The first perspective is informed by modern social science, and focuses primarily on material practices. The second perspective is rooted in classical rhetoric, and concentrates on discursive strategies. Findings – It is found that both perspectives hold pertinent but partial insights. The authors propose an integrated perspective in which material practices and rhetorical strategies are seen as two analytical sides of the same ontological coin. This enables a fuller and more detailed explanation of how organizational cultures are created or changed. A brief illustration is provided of the merits of this approach by revisiting the case of Enron. Originality/value – The paper constitutes an initial exploration of how social scientific and rhetorical perspectives on organizational change may be brought closer together. It may provide the first step towards the development of a new, integrated theory.
Journal of Organizational Change Management – Emerald Publishing
Published: Mar 30, 2012
Keywords: Organizational culture; Organizational change; Change management; Rhetoric; Material practices; Embedding mechanisms
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