Theorizing plurivocal dialogue: Implications for organizational and leadership studies

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The present chapter explores a Bakhtinian perspective on dialogicality and its implications for participatory research processes in the field of organi- zational and leadership studies. In addition to Bakhtin, the theoretical basis stems from notions from Foucauldian governmentality and organizational discourse studies. These perspectives are elaborated on and implemented to frame, discuss and criticize the methodological basis of a case study which the author helped to initiate: a plurivocal, participatory research- based leadership forum involving professional leaders, researchers, and postgraduate students. The article is merely based on a theoretical and ide- alistic discussion and does not reflect/document concrete interaction. Through this I elaborate on a new theoretical framework for the under- standing of plurivocal participatory research processes. Dialogicality serves as the theoretical basis for the analysis. The article discusses how the Bakhtinian conception of dialogue offers a particular way of framing power, participation, meaning-making, knowledge pro- duction, and identity work in relation to the leadership forum and collab- orative research processes in general. Dialogicality is posited as a positive alternative to, and as means for counteracting, mainstream liberal human- istic approaches with dialogue-inducing perspectives of dissensus rather than consensus. The chapter argues that dialogicality demands the culti- vation of dialogic wisdom (Barge & Little, 2002) through the enactment of dialogic participation (Jabri et al., 2008) in open-ended meaning-mak- ing processes that hold in balance unity (centripetal forces) and diversity (centrifugal forces), which are intrinsic to interaction (and the heteroglos- sic nature of the language of life) (Bager, 2013). The participants are viewed as subjects in processes accommodating diverse and often opposing 172  voices that produce vision surpluses through the systematic and ongoing accommodation of otherness. Dialogicality is claimed to allow one to re- trieve the real (Iedema, 2010 er det Iedema & Carroll, 2010?) and con- sider the messiness and tensions immanent in (organizational) interaction and the co-authoring of knowledge. This approach carries great potential for challenging crystallized knowledge forms and taken-for-granted ways of doing things (dispositifs and authoritative discourses).
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationParticipation and power : In participatory research and action research
EditorsMarianne Kristiansen, Jørgen Bloch-Poulsen
Number of pages26
Place of PublicationAalborg
PublisherAalborg Universitetsforlag
Publication date1 Sep 2014
ISBN (Electronic)978-87-7112-164-3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2014
EventParticipation and Power in participatory and action research - Aalborg Universitet/CPH, Denmark
Duration: 5 Jun 20137 Jun 2013


ConferenceParticipation and Power in participatory and action research
LocationAalborg Universitet/CPH
SeriesSerie om Lærings-, forandrings- og organisationsudviklingsprocesser/Series in Transformational Studies


  • participatory research
  • multi-voiced dialogue
  • dialogism
  • dialogicality
  • discourse
  • emergence
  • Governmentality
  • leadership
  • knowledge co-production
  • communication


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