Is dialogue the ultimate instrument for managing change? A case study of a Danish airport

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    Increasingly, corporations exist in turbulent and changeable environments that exert influence on their ability to operate, and which therefore demand a high degree of sensitivity to the needs and demands of various social actors (Gilbert and Rasche 2008; Jensen and Sandström 2011). One example of turbulence is the rapid expansion of corporations in activity and size that leads to significant organizational changes. For organizational cohesion to ‘survive’ in this process, dedicated communication efforts have to be made to ensure the successful distribution and sharing of knowledge that make employees feel part of the process and eventually accept their role in the new organization (Franck 2014). In recent years, dialogue has been proclaimed the ultimate instrument for building relationships, team spirit and followership in situations like these (Phillips 2011). However, the question is if other types of communication would not be equally suitable for maintaining a cohesive organization depending on the context in which communication takes place (Theunissen and Wan Noordin 2012). In this paper, the complex process of building relationships through communication, and thus managing change, will be analysed on the basis of the case study of a small, but rapidly expanding, Danish airport. Taking our starting point in theories of communication and dialogue (Grunig and Hunt 1984; Isaacs 1993), we will present analyses of data generated from a survey distributed to employees, observations of meetings among managers at different levels, and focus group interviews with employees from selected departments of the airport. The results of the analyses show that dialogue is just one way of building relationships, and that the successful management of change requires a number of interlocking communicative strategies.
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    Gilbert, D. and Rasche, A. (2008). Organisations and problems of standardized ethics initiatives – a stakeholder theory perspective. Journal of Business Ethics, 82(3): 755 – 773.
    Grunig, J. E. and Hunt, T. (1984). Managing Public Relations. Fort Worth, TX: Holt, Rinehart and Winston.
    Isaacs, W. N. (1993). Taking flight: dialogue, collective thinking, and organizational learning. Organizational Dynamics, 22(2): 24 – 39.
    Jensen, T. and Sandström, J. (2011). Stakeholder theory and globalization: The challenge of power and responsibility. Organization Studies, 32(4): 473 – 488.
    Phillips, L. (2011). The promise of dialogue: The dialogic turn in the production and communication of knowledge. Dialogue Studies 12. John Benjamins.
    Theunissen, P. and Wan Noordin, W. N. (2012). Revisiting the concept “dialogue” in public relations. Public Relations Review, 38(1): 5 – 13.
    Publikationsdato5 jun. 2019
    StatusUdgivet - 5 jun. 2019
    BegivenhedInternational Conference on Discourse, Communication and the Enterprise (DICOEN) - University of Leuven, Leuven, Belgien
    Varighed: 3 jun. 20196 jun. 2019
    Konferencens nummer: 10


    KonferenceInternational Conference on Discourse, Communication and the Enterprise (DICOEN)
    LokationUniversity of Leuven


    • organisation
    • forandring
    • dialog
    • kommunikation
    • lufthavn