How can performativity contribute to management and organization research? Theoretical perspectives and analytical framework

Abstract : The issue of performativity reverse the classical perspective in the social sciences, for they revolve less around describing a pre-existing reality than understanding how reality is produced by intentional interventions. Yet the link between intervention and performativity is by no means automatic. On the contrary, this approach encourages us to focus on the pragmatic conditions that allow this performation to be constructed. In this sense, the aim of this article is threefold. First, it expands the field of performativity, which is structured around three dominant approaches (Austinian, Callonian and Butlerian), to encompass lesser-known research on writing and calculation. Second, it proposes a comparison between theoretical perspectives of research on performativity, and two other research trends in social science and in organizations. These, without using the term performativity, present strong similarities to it from a theoretical and methodological point of view: Foucauldian approaches and instrument-based approaches to organizations. Based on the concepts thus introduced, this article then proposes an analysis framework for performation processes in organizations, articulated around three levels of analysis: i) the study, on an elementary level, of speech acts, acts of calculation, and acts of writing organized around instrumented activities; ii) their insertion within the management dispositifs that give them meaning and contribute to defining their boundaries; and iii) the putting into perspective of these dispositifs in historical transformations in forms of governmentality. This analytical framework is applied in the case of the car project referred to as L, an instance of collaborative research in which a crisis situation characterized by the disalignment between the elementary acts studied and the management dispositif implemented by the company was examine. This case illustrates a more general phenomenon in which management dispositifs produce negative effects on the skills dynamics in a company, and on individuals’ involvement in these collective projects. It also explains the infelicity of certain performative acts.
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Franck Aggeri. How can performativity contribute to management and organization research? Theoretical perspectives and analytical framework. M@n@gement, AIMS (Association internationale de management stratégique), 2017, 20 (1), pp.28-69. ⟨10.3917/mana.201.0028⟩. ⟨hal-01609172⟩

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