The Situated Organization: Case Studies in the Pragmatics of Communication Research, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

The Situated Organization

Case Studies in the Pragmatics of Communication Research, 1st Edition

By James R. Taylor, Elizabeth J. Van Every


276 pages

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Paperback: 9780415881685
pub: 2010-07-06
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pub: 2010-07-06
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pub: 2010-09-13
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The Situated Organization explores recent research in organizational communication, emphasizing the organization as constructed in and emerging out of communication practices. Working from the tradition of the Montreal School in its approach, it focuses not only on how an organization’s members understand the purposes of the organization through communication, but also on how they realize and recognize the organization itself as they work within it.

The text breaks through with an alternative viewpoint to the currently popular idea of 'organization-as-network,' viewing organization instead as a configuration of agencies, and their fields of practice. It serves as an original, comprehensive, and well-written text, elaborated by case studies that make the theory come to life. The substantial ideas and insights are presented in a deep and meaningful way while remaining comprehensible for student readers.

This text has been developed for students at all levels of study in organizational communication, who need a systematic introduction to conducting empirical field research. It will serve as an invaluable sourcebook in planning and conducting research.


"What happens when a fresh but solid foothold in the theory of pragmatics starts to interact with a range of novel case studies in communication research? Read it yourself and be inspired!"

  • Hans Weigand, Tilburg University, the Netherlands

"The Situated Organization is an innovative work that accomplishes its purpose: to present its readers with theories and to reflect upon such theories through empirical studies."

  • Marlene Marchiori, Londrina State University, Brazil

"The Situated Organization was an eye-opener to me. It presents and illustrates new, fundamental and important insights in what organizations are from a communication point of view, and how essential communication is in understanding what organization is. These insights can contribute beyond communication studies, in realms like organization science, management science, information systems, and enterprise engineering."

  • Stijn Hoppenbrouwers, Radboud University Nijmegen, the Netherlands

"This book develops an interesting conceptual framework based on the idea of "organization-as-thirdness". Applying concepts from semiotic, philosophy of language, ethnomethodology, etc; the authors put forth a convincing argument demonstrating the constructive role of communication in organization."

  • Sylvie Grosjean, University of Ottawa

"Taylor and Van Every contribute to the general understanding of the sometimes overly abstract writing of the Montreal School. … The Situated Organization is a good first read for students and teachers of organizational communication … it is Taylor and Van Every’s very practice of empirical research that sheds yet another light on organization, organizations, and – organization studies. In the words of Taylor and Van Every, 'Organization is alive and well!'"

  • Organization Studies 2011(Reviewed by Steffen Blaschke, University of Hamburg, Germany)

Table of Contents

Prologue: The Puzzle of Organization


Chapter 1: The Premise of Organization as Thirdness

  • Preliminary Remarks: Connecting to Weick’s View of Enactment
  • What is "Thirdness"?
  • Adding in Communication
  • The Explanatory Challenge We Now Address
  • Toward an Explanation
  • Organization as a Thirdness: Establishing its Agency and its Authority
  • The Authoring of Organization
  • A Concluding Note
  • Suggested Supplementary Readings

Chapter 2: The Frame Game, And How Communication Establishes and Distributes Organizational Authority

  • Games: Situated and Not Situated
  • Von Neumann’s theory of games
  • Situation and why it is important
  • Pragmatism in Dewey’s interpretation
  • Focus and frames
  • Goffman’s Interpretation of Game Theory
  • The information game and thirdness
  • Bateson and Meta-Communication
  • Wittgenstein’s Concept of a Game—a "Language Game"
  • Mapping the Organization, Communicatively Speaking
  • Maps and organization
  • Playing the Frame Game: Or How to Authorize the "Map"
  • Doing Field Research in an Imbricated Organization
  • Suggested Supplementary Readings

Chapter 3: Language as Both Meaning and Action

  • Cybernetics, Information Theory and Noam Chomsky’s Linguistics
  • Wittgenstein Again
  • John Austin and ¨Speech Acts¨
  • Modality
  • Ethnomethodology and Conversation Analysis
  • Labov and Fanshel: Language and Thirdness
  • M. A. K. Halliday: A Social Semiotic View of Reflexivity
  • Conclusion
  • Suggested Supplementary Readings


Chapter 4: Text as the Constitutive Basis of Organization

  • The text in the conversation
  • "Espacer l’organisation: trajectoires d’un projet de diffusion de la science et de la technologie au Chili"
  • Down-linking: Building a Local Program by Enlisting Scientists
  • Up-linking: The Other Dimension of Organizational Coherence
  • Act II: in Santiago
  • Summary of Analysis
  • Vasquez’ Singular View of Organization
  • Conclusion
  • Suggested Supplementary Readings

Chapter 5: The Accounts of a Business—Or Perhaps Rather the Business of Accounting?

  • "Les activités de production de l’information budgetaire: Communications organisationnelles et régulations, le cas d’une entreprise de BTP"
  • The Organizational Context of Fauré’s Research
  • The Performative Dimension of an ERP-type System
  • Updating the Budget: The Organization in the Conversation
  • Selecting a Communicative Event for Analysis
  • Analysis
  • Imbrication Reexamined: The Role of the Third Party
  • A Word on the Limitations of Formal Accounting
  • Text as the basis of organization
  • Suggested Supplementary Reading

Chapter 6: Playing On the Game while Playing In the Game—Frames, Identities and the "Fall Plan"

  • How to constitute the organization in a text
  • Senem Güney’s Study: "An Ethnographic Case Study of ‘Building the Box’"
  • The "Fall Plan": Text versus context
  • The "NuevoHyp Episode": Partners? Or Competitors?
  • Conclusion
  • Suggested Supplementary Readings

Chapter 7: The Organization as Text

  • Sandrine Virgili’s Study: "La construction mutuelle de la technologie et de l’organisation en phase de développement: Une perspective communicationnelle appliquée à l’étude d’un ERP"
  • The Research Site: "Labopharma"
  • The Conversation in the Text, and the Text in the Conversation
  • Conversation # 1: Different "Maps"
  • Conversation #2:"Telepresence"
  • Conclusion
  • Suggested Supplementary Readings

Chapter 8: The "Western," 21st Century Version—Mapping the Boundaries Through Texts

  • "Communicating in the Field: The Role of Boundary Objects in a Collaborative Stakeholder Initiative"
  • Heron Lake Watershed Synergy Group (HLWSG)
  • The Fall Meetings, 2005
  • Conclusion
  • Suggested Supplementary Reading


Chapter 9: The Organization as Thirdness, or How to Do Organizational Communication Research

  • Theorizing communication
  • On Being an Organizational Communication Researcher
  • Toward a Research Strategy
  • What is Organizational Communication Research?
  • Suggested Supplementary Reading


About the Authors

James R. Taylor is Professor Emeritus and founder of the Department of Communication at the University of Montreal. He is the author, co-author or editor of six books, including The Emergent Organization (2000).

Elizabeth J. Van Every is an historian and sociologist by training and has worked in both the public and private sectors. She has co-authored two previous books with James Taylor: The Vulnerable Fortress (1993) and The Emergent Organization (2000) as well as co-edited The Computerization of Work (2001) and Communication as Organizing (2006).

About the Series

Routledge Communication Series

The Routledge Communication Series covers the breadth of the communication discipline, from interpersonal communication to public relations, offering textbooks, handbooks, and scholarly reference materials.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
LANGUAGE ARTS & DISCIPLINES / Communication Studies