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Summary: Von Maanen’s paper, “Style as Theory,” delves into the significance of organizational rhetoric and its role in shaping organizational culture. The paper emphasizes how language and communication within an organization are not just tools for conveying information but are fundamental in constructing the reality of the organization itself. Von Maanen argues that the language used within an organization, the narratives it creates, and the stories it tells are powerful mechanisms for forming and perpetuating organizational culture. The paper highlights how the language and communication style of an organization are reflective of its underlying values, beliefs, and norms, thus making style a crucial aspect of organizational theory.
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Alternative Title: “The Power of Words: How Organizational Rhetoric Shapes Culture and Reality”
Essay: Von Maanen’s paper, “Style as Theory,” delves into the profound impact of organizational rhetoric and communication style on shaping the culture and reality of an organization. The central argument of the paper revolves around the idea that language within an organization is not just a means of conveying information but is intrinsically tied to the construction of the organizational culture itself.
The paper begins by emphasizing the significance of narratives within organizations. Von Maanen argues that stories told within an organization, whether they are anecdotes, myths, or legends, play a pivotal role in shaping the perceptions, behaviors, and shared values of its members. These narratives are not merely stories but powerful mechanisms for constructing the reality of the organization.
Furthermore, Von Maanen contends that the language and communication style used within an organization are reflective of its underlying cultural values and norms. Different organizations employ distinct communication styles that mirror their unique cultural attributes. For instance, a highly formal and hierarchical communication style may reflect a culture that values authority and order, while a more open and informal style may signify a culture that prioritizes collaboration and innovation.
The paper also emphasizes that organizational rhetoric is not just a reflection of culture but is an active agent in shaping it. Through the use of rhetoric, organizations reinforce their cultural values and norms. They establish a shared language that fosters a sense of belonging among members and reinforces the desired cultural attributes. This aspect highlights the bidirectional relationship between rhetoric and culture within organizations.
Moreover, Von Maanen underscores the role of rhetoric in maintaining organizational stability and continuity. Rhetoric serves as a tool for preserving the identity and values of the organization over time. It creates a sense of tradition and history that binds current and future members to the organization’s cultural legacy.
In conclusion, Von Maanen’s paper, “Style as Theory,” illuminates the profound influence of organizational rhetoric and communication style on shaping organizational culture and reality. It highlights the intricate relationship between language and culture, emphasizing that language is not just a medium of communication but a fundamental driver of organizational identity and values. Understanding and harnessing the power of organizational rhetoric is crucial for leaders and scholars alike, as it holds the key to shaping and transforming organizational cultures.