Handbook of Research on Management Ideas and Panaceas
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Handbook of Research on Management Ideas and Panaceas

Adaptation and Context

Edited by Anders Örtenblad

Over time management ideas and panaceas have been presented alternately as quick fix cures for all corporate ills and the emperor’s new clothes, beset by flaws and problems. This Handbook provides a different approach, suggesting that management ideas and panaceas should not be either adopted or rejected outright, but gives guidance in the art of assessing and applying management ideas and panaceas to various situations and contexts.
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Chapter 4: Putting panaceas into practice . . . or not: translating discourse into social practice in complex and contested terrains

Pete Thomas


This chapter presents a discourse-based framework for the analysis of panaceas as a mode of changing social practices within a context. The framework is based on a Critical Discourse Analysis approach, which draws on Harvey’s dialectical conceptualization of moments of social practice, coupled with a discursive view of antagonism and hegemony, taken from Laclau and Mouffe. The chapter outlines the basis of the framework and then applies it to two aspects of the panaceas discourse: ‘best practice’ and the problem of discourse being translated into other moments of social practice. Best practice is presented as a temporary crystallization of discourse that favors particular interests, which is used to attempt to shape organizational practices in material terms, but also is terms of other moments of social practice such as values, emotions and political relations. Translating such notions into the planned changes is shown to be problematic, as the discourse is shaped by prevailing conditions of social practice.

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