Co-organizer of the PhD course The Dark Side of Communication – Identifying, Analyzing and Challenging Manipulative Organizational Dis-courses, August 13th, 20.
In this PhD course, we will explore and substantially deepen our understanding of what dark side communication activities ‘are’, and what they ‘do’ in or with reference to organizational contexts.
The learning goals of this course are threefold. •To raise awareness of what may constitute ‘dark side communication activities’ – discursively, socially, and organizationally. •To identify and to analyze select instantiations of ‘dark side communication activities’ – in different modalities, discourses, and contexts. •To discuss and to evaluate how ‘dark side communication activities’ influence the communication (and management) climate of organizations.
The expression “the dark side” seems to have become a portmanteau term for all things unwanted. In strategic communication, “the dark side” pertains to (corporate) communication perceived as intentionally ambiguous – and maybe even unlawfully so. In organization studies, “the dark side” encompasses deviant or even harmful organizational behavior. In interpersonal communication, “the dark side” deals with immoral, dysfunctional or malicious communication. In critical management studies, “the dark side” refers to wrongful and damaging business decisions that managers might take. In sum, by calling forth “the dark side” of communication, a sort of Manichean discourse of light vs. dark is evoked, in casu: of good vs. evil communication. Looking at communication activities in organizational and/or professional contexts in light of this, it seems to be a question of whether communication is seen as manipulatory, i.e. as “dark”/evil, or emancipatory, i.e. as “light”/good. This, in turn, effectively stigmatizes dark side communication activities as vehicles for the (organizational or corporate) propagation of suppression of unwanted ethical, political, and ideological voices and discourses. Throughout this course, we will use this taken-for-granted dichotomy as an impetus for two main strands of critical investigations: Firstly, we will address and challenge the very premises upon which this dichotomy is built. Secondly, we will analyze, discuss and evaluate some of the practical implications of this dichotomy as they manifest themselves in organizational/professional/corporate discourses.
Even though this PhD course focusses on ‘dark side communication’ activities, it is by no means a prerequisite that participants’ thesis work must be centered on ‘dark side communication activities in order to attend. In fact, all PhD students with an interest in a critical investigation of the discourses and communications that take place within the general field of organizational/corporate/professional communication are encouraged to attend.