Negotiating Tensions between Theory and Practice
Edited by Julie Wolfram Cox, Tony G. LeTrent-Jones, Maxim Voronov and David Weir
Chapter 5: Practical Pushing: Creating Discursive Space in Organizational Narratives
Joyce K. Fletcher, Lotte Bailyn and Stacy Blake Beard For the past ten years a group of action researchers in the Boston area has been using a feminist poststructural lens to do organizational change work (Bailyn 2005; Ely and Meyerson 2000; Fletcher 1999; Fletcher and Bailyn 2005; Fletcher and Rapoport 1996; Kolb and Merrill-Sands 1999; MerrillSands et al. 1999; Meyerson and Fletcher 2000; Perlow 1997; Rapoport et al. 1996; Rapoport et al. 2002). The goal of the action research has been to make visible – and discussable – the gendered power dynamic embedded in an organization’s discourse so that we can help organizational members disrupt that dynamic, thereby creating discursive space in which new, more equitable possibilities might surface. Two of the co-authors of this chapter, Joyce K. Fletcher and Lotte Bailyn, were founding members of this group and the third, Stacy Blake Beard, has joined more recently. In this chapter, we give an overview of the approach we use, summarize some of our findings and share what we have learned about the practical application of a poststructural diagnosis and critique. WHAT DO WE MEAN BY A FEMINIST POSTSTRUCTURAL LENS? What underlies our method is an acknowledgement of the relationship between knowledge, power and discourse (Alvesson and Deetz 1996; Lukes 1974). It starts from the premise that some voices in the discourse are heard and counted as knowledge, while others are silenced, marginalized or excluded (Clegg 1989; Foucault 1980; Nicholson 1990). Our approach gives voice to (at least) one of these marginalized...