In Search of Subtlety: Discursive Devices and Rhetorical Competence

Andrea Whittle, Frank Mueller, Anita Mangan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review


What is the role of contradiction in organizational rhetoric? This article argues that existing research tends to focus on contradiction at an institutional level and then develop a distinct but complementary perspective that views contradictory rhetoric at an interactional level and as a practical concern, especially when routine is disrupted and repair tactics are required. Drawing on data from a study of a quality improvement initiative in the United Kingdom, the authors examine the contradictions that were constructed when a “change champion” attempted to deal with resistance to change. They conclude by depicting how contradiction can emerge when actors reflexively shift their identifications to portray themselves and their actions in a contextually appropriate manner.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)99-122
JournalManagement Communication Quarterly
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2008


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