Communication as structuration : Viewing learning through the lens of communication
Abstract: This dissertation is about enlightening the relationship between organizational communication and learning. In doing so, I explore and build upon existing theories that address the relationship from a structuration perspective. Specifically, I turn to discursive communication theory and sociocultural learning theory. Both of these theories place emphasis on the everyday communication of actors in the process of organizational learning and structuring. To offer precision to these conceptualizations, I study two client servicing processes within two distinct organizations. While one of the processes is a decentralized, communication-intense process, the other is a centralized, technology-driven process. For both processes, I analyze the employees’ communicative interactions with colleagues and external actors in the context of their organizational structures. Using a strategy for theoretical development inspired by Charles Sanders Peirce, I offer inferences on how those communicative interactions—for both types of processes—potentially shape their future activities. The result of my study has been the development of two concepts: local conversations and text negotiations. I infer that through local conversations with colleagues and other organizational actors, employees simultaneously draw upon, negotiate and create new structures (texts) that can then be incorporated into further, future organizational activities. In this sense I argue that communication shapes or structures the organization, and the organization learns.
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