The success of the “measures” proposed by the government to contain and control the Corona virus depends to a large extent on the willingness of the population to go along with these “measures.” This willingness is contingent on a variety of factors. In this post, I pick out one factor that has a significant influence: the communication behavior of the government, or the communicative relations between the governed and the governed. I would like to briefly introduce two different models and put them up for discussion: that of strategic communication and that of frank speech.
Strategic communication and message control
In political and organizational communication, “strategic communication” is often offered as the means of choice when it comes to implementing “measures” efficiently. This model recommends that organizations and governments communicate strategically to various stakeholders. Messages and news that the organization/government sends out should be clearly structured, formulated uniformly and without contradiction, and sent out with the aid of suitable media.
In terms of communication theory, this idea is based on the classic sender-receiver model developed by the mathematicians Shannon and Weaver in the USA in the 1940s. The aim here was to explore how a message defined by a sender can be transported to a receiver in an efficient manner.
The article by Yvonne Tobias-Miersch and myself on whistleblowing as a critical practice has been accepted for publication in Organization Studies and is now available online. Check out the abstract here:
In this paper, we develop an approach to the study of whistleblowing as a critical practice that is involved in the contestation of truth and power in the workplace. We situate our analysis in the context of practice-based thinking and specify the social practice of whistleblowing with reference to Michel Foucault’s concept of ‘parrhesia’ (frank speech). We then introduce the case of Guido Strack, a former European Union official who worked as section leader at the Office des Publications Officielles des Communautés Européenne from 1995 to 2002. Strack spoke out against malpractice in the EU in 2001 and officially reported alleged financial misconduct in 2002. In our analysis, we focus on the interplay between and effects of different modes of truth-telling in the context of this specific organization – a context marked by the uneasy coexistence of different normative and discursive frames. We argue that the parrhesiastic modality of truth-telling threatens the established ‘working solutions’ that reconcile the tensions inherent in the regime of practices and thus introduces a ‘critical opening’ that harbours the potential for both personal and organizational transformation. We conclude by highlighting the potential of a nuanced understanding of parrhesia for studying ‘critical practices’ more generally.
In case you or your institution does not have access to the publication, I would be happy to provide you a copy of the article via e-mail.
Am Mittwoch, 16. November 2016, 17:00 Uhr, findet im Kaiser-Leopold-Saal der Katholisch-Theologischen Fakultät Karl-Rahner-Platz 3, A-6020 Innsbruck die Antrittsvorlesung von Richard Weiskopf zum Thema “Wieviel ‚Wahrheit’ verträgt die Organisation? Die Praktik der parrhesia als Herausforderung für moderne Organisation.”
Antrittsvorlesungen richten sich an ein breites Publikum und wir würden uns freuen, bekannte Gesichter aus der Organization Studies Innsbruck Community dort zu sehen.