Skip to Main content Skip to Navigation
Conference papers

Normes organisationnelles et communication: une perspective ventriloque

Abstract : Organizational norms and communication: a ventriloqual perspective
For the past twenty-five years, the question of organizational norms, regulations or rules has been a recurring topic of reflection and study for many scholars in organizational communication, whether in the French (de la Broise, 2004; Chantraine, 2003) or north american tradition (McPhee, 1985, 1989; Poole, Seibold & McPhee, 1985; Weick & Browning, 1986). these studies tend to focus on the various types of norm that can not only constrain and control, but also guide and enable people's action. i am thinking of studies on organizational genres (Orlikowski & Yates, 1994; Yates, 1989, 1993; Yates, 1989; Yates & orlikowski, 1992), technologies (orlikowski, 1992, 2000), or normative texts (Delcambre, 1997; Frankel, 2006; McPhee, 2004; reverdy, 1999). These studies are sometimes influenced by anthony Giddens' (1976, 1984) structuration theory for the north american literature and by Jean-Daniel reynauld's (1997) theory of social regulation for the French literature (see also de terssac, 2003), even if both theories are marked by what Jean-luc Bouillon calls an impensé communicationnel, i.e., they tend to black box the key role communication plays in the reproduction, alteration and transformation of these norms. Common influences that we can find on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean are Harold Garfinkel's (1967, 2002) studies in ethnomethodology and Michel Foucault's (1977, 1978) reflection on discursive order and discipline. Despite some important nuances that could be identified to differentiate these perspectives, this literature can globally be characterized by an endogenous conception of the production and functioning of norms and rules (Cooren, 2009). Communicational perspectives on norms tend indeed to focus on how norms, rules and regulation are negotiated, reproduced or altered by participants on the terra firma of interaction (Cooren, 2006), which often leaves open the question as to what actual mode of existence and mode of action can be given to these very rules, norms and regulations. in other words, can we identify a communicational mechanism that would explain how these rules, norms and regulation come to actually do things (exogenous position) while taking into account the fact that in order to do things, people have, of course, to orient to them, as well as invoke and (consciously or unconsciously) mobilize them in their discussion and documents (endogenous position)? in keeping with the communicational approach to organizations (Bouillon, Bourdeux & loneux, 2005) and the CCo (Communicative Constitution of Organization) perspective (McPhee & Zaug, 2000; Putnam & nicotera, 2009; taylor, 1988; taylor & Van every, 2000, 2011), i would like to propose that one way of interactively reconciling the endogenous vs. exogenous conceptions of norms, rules and regulations, could consist of adopting a ventriloqual approach to organizational communication (Cooren, 2010a, 2010b, 2010c). according to this perspective, which echoes Bakhtin's (1981) notion of ventriloquation, conceiving of communication as an activity of ventriloquism allows analysts to analyze not only who is speaking in a given turn of talk or in a given document, but also what or who is made to speak or say things in a specific situation. By opening up the interactional scene (Cooren, 2008) to other speaking figures (figure s i s th e ter m tha t ventriloquist s us e to name the puppets they manipulate), we can realize that many things happen to do things with words in a given interaction (Cooren & Matte, 2010; Cooren & Bencherki, 2010), especially the various rules, norms and regulation that people implicitly or explicitly invoke and mobilize in their conversations and documents as i will show, the advantage of a ventriloqual conception of communication is that we, analysts, do not need to choose an arbitrary starting point that would define, once for all, what or who is active or what or who is passive in a given situation. as pointed out by Goldblatt (2006), any form of ventriloquism is indeed marked by a vacillation or oscillation, which prevents analysts from deciding once for all who or what is (passively) made to speak and who or what is (actively) speaking. in other words, if human interactants are ventriloquists, i.e., if they are very good at making normative figures dictate things in a specific situation, it is also because they present themselves as being attached to these figures, an attachment that leads them to say what they say or do what they do. If they ventriloquize rules and norms, it is also because human beings can be, in many respects, considered to be themselves ventriloquized by the very figures they invoke. Using excerpts from various cases, i will show how normative figures can be considered both active and acted upon without leaving the terra firma of interaction. no need therefore to establish a duality of structure à la Giddens or to make an absolute distinction between autonomous regulations and control regulations, like Jean-Daniel reynauld. aventriloqual or constitutive approach to organizational communication allows us to show that rules and norms have multiples forms of action and existence, but that all these forms need to always be communicatively embodied in one way or another.
Complete list of metadatas
Contributor : Compte Laboratoire Geriico <>
Submitted on : Tuesday, July 2, 2013 - 2:20:52 PM
Last modification on : Wednesday, April 17, 2019 - 12:21:21 PM


  • HAL Id : hal-00840401, version 1



François Cooren. Normes organisationnelles et communication: une perspective ventriloque. Communiquer dans un monde de normes. L'information et la communication dans les enjeux contemporains de la " mondialisation "., Mar 2012, France. ⟨hal-00840401⟩



Record views