Voices in the Employee Magazine : A Critical Investigation into Organizational Identity Formation

Peter Kastberg, Marianne Grove Ditlevsen

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Peter Kastberg & Marianne Grove Ditlevsen
Voices in the Employee Magazine : A Critical Investigation into Organizational Identity Formation
Today, “organizations are [seen as] key sites of human identity formation in modern society” (Mumby, 2013, p. 47). This makes the modern corporation “the primary institution for the development of our identities, surpassing the family, church, government, and education systems in this role” (Mumby, 2013, p. 47, cf. Deetz 1992). A feature of late modernity that has led Deetz to coin the phrase “corporate colonization” of the individual’s life world (Deetz, 1992). In that sense organizations are dominant sites of power and control (cf. Mumby, 2013, p. 47), i.e. institutions which affect individual’s identity and life in a direct and fundamental way. Pairing this point of departure with Foucault’s idea that language, knowledge and power are inextricably linked (Foucault, 1974), as well as Sarangi and Robert’s laconic statement that “[w]orkplaces are held together by communicative practices” (Sarangi and Roberts, 1999, p. 1), has led us to take a critical look at what may be referred to as the “corporate voice” (Logan and Tindall, 2018). The corporate voice is on a par with viewing and ‘doing’ organizational communication as a function of management (Cornelissen, 2011). As a function of management, organizational communication is – among other things – a means with which the organization, in general, seeks to “align its employees with its overarching vision, mission, values, purposes, mission, strategies, and priorities” (Kounalakis et al. 1999, p. 9). More specifically, organizational communication provides means with which the upper echelons of management “shape the identities of their employees to achieve managerial goals” (Boussebaa and Brown, 2017, p. 9). Even though one of the primary tools in the organizational communicator’s toolbox is the employee magazine, the employee magazine is an under-researched topic. What little research there is pertains mostly to the journalistic aspects of the employee magazine (Kounalakis et al., 1999), and its value and usage as an internal PR media (Koch et al., 2017). Curiously, although widely acknowledge as a primary vehicle for “identity formation” (see above), the employee magazine has not really been analyzed with a view to it being a “site of power and control” (see above). With our contribution, we aim to present a critical analysis of the employee magazine as an instance of a “corporate voice” (see above). More specifically, we have chosen, as the empirical part of our contribution, to present, analyze and discuss the Gmagazine (http://magazines.grundfos.com/Grundfos/SU/COM/UK/gmagazineno40/?page=1). The Gmagazine is the international employee magazine for the Grundfos Group (https://www.grundfos.com/), i.e. a world-leading pump and water solutions manufacturer. The international GMagazine is published four times a year with a circulation of app. 18,000 copies. The background of our analytical approach is made up of Mumby’s approach to critical organizational communication (2013) and influenced by Laclau and Mouffe’s approach to discourse theory (1985). Based on this and informed by the theoretical stance outlined above, we conduct a critical, explorative study of the employee magazine in question as a “dialogical space” (Wegreif, 1997). We do so in order to determine, discuss and evaluate what voices are present, how the voices present participate in discursively constituting the identity regulation of the organization and its employees, and – finally yet importantly – the ideological undercurrent thus conveyed. 
Works cited
Boussebaa, Mehdi and Brown, Andrew D. (2017). Englishization, Identity Regulation and Imperialism. Organization Studies, Vol. 38(1), 7-29.Deetz, S. A. (1992). Democracy in an age of corporate colonization: developments in communication and the politics of everyday life. New York: State University of New York Press.Cornelissen, J. (2011). Corporate Communication: Theory and Practice. Third edition. London: Sage Publications. Foucault, M. (1974). The Archeology of Knowledge. Canada: Tavistock.Koch, T., Vogel, J., Denner, N., Encarnacao, S. (2017). Voice of Management or employee advocate? How editors of employee magazines see their professional role. Corporate Communication: An International Journal, Vo. 23., No. 1. 51-66. Kounalakis, M., Banks, D. & Daus, K. (1999). Beyond Spin: The Power of Strategic Corporate Journalism. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.Laclau, E., & Mouffe, C. (1985). Hegemony and socialist strategy: Towards a radical democratic politics. London: Verso.Logan, Nneka and Tindall, Natalie, T.J. (2018). Voice. The International Encyclopedia of Strategic Communication. Robert L. Heath and Winni Johansen (Editors-in-chief). John Wiley and Sons. Mumby, D. (2013). Organizational communication. A critical approach. Los Angeles, London, New Delhi, Singapore, Washington DC: Sage. Wegreif, Rupert (1997). A Dialogical Framework for Investigating Talk. In: Computers and Talk in the Primary Classroom, Language and Education Library 12. Wegreif and Scrimshaw (Editors). Clevedon, Philadelphia, Toronto, Sydney, Johannesburg: Multilingual Matters, Ltd. 49-65.
TitelUnderstanding the Dynamics of Language and Multilingualism in Professional Contexts: Advances in Language‐Sensitive Management Research
ForlagEdward Elgar Publishing
StatusIkke-udgivet - 2020