Analyzing management discourse

9 04 2008

Interesting DiO talk by Jonathan Clifton today. Drawing on conversation analysis (CA) of business meetings, Jonathan found that the utterance “What do you think?” achieves control rather than facilitation – a (highly touted) management style eliciting group consensus by empowering co-workers. Interestingly, Jonathan arrived at this insight by taking extra-textual data on board – a highly contested move in traditional CA, cf. McHoul et al 2008 – and concluded by making a case for a contextualized, descriptive management literature that shows what language actually does in organizational discourse rather than making assumptions about what could/should happen.


  • Clifton, Jonathan (2008 ) When facilitative language is not facilitative: the gap between the discourse of management talk and management talk. Paper presented at the Discourse in Organizations Workshop. Ghent: Ghent University, 9 April 2008.
  • McHoul, Alec, Rapley, Mark and Antaki, Charles (2008). You gotta light?: On the luxury of context for understanding talk in interaction. Journal of Pragmatics 40, 42-54.



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