Technological Determinism and Discursive Closure in Organizational Mergers

Journal of Organizational Change Management, Vol. 17, No. 6, pp. 615-631, 2004

35 Pages Posted: 28 Jan 2009

See all articles by Paul M. Leonardi

Paul M. Leonardi

University of California, Santa Barbara

Michele Jackson

University of Colorado at Boulder

Date Written: January 1, 2004

Abstract

In times of organizational change leaders often tell stories that justify publicly the directions in which organizations move. Such stories are always political in nature and often reflect the motives of the storyteller. We observe how leaders in high-tech organizations use the story of technological determinism in organizational settings as a discursive practice through which they invoke the "inevitability" of technology to justify managerial decisions to the public. Rather than taking ownership of certain actions, managers are able to use this story to claim that certain organizational changes are inevitable, and to eliminate alternative stories. We examine this strategy as it appears in the public discourse produced during two mergers in the high-tech and telecommunications industries occurring from 1998-2002: US West and Qwest, and AOL and TimeWarner. Finally, we demonstrate that the story of technological determinism performs discursive closure (Deetz, 1992) around each merger.

Keywords: story, technological determnism, justification, organizational change, technology, social construction, merger

Suggested Citation

Leonardi, Paul M. and Jackson, Michele, Technological Determinism and Discursive Closure in Organizational Mergers (January 1, 2004). Journal of Organizational Change Management, Vol. 17, No. 6, pp. 615-631, 2004, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1334086

Paul M. Leonardi (Contact Author)

University of California, Santa Barbara ( email )

Phelps Hall
Santa Barbara, CA 93106
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.tmp.ucsb.edu/leonardi/

Michele Jackson

University of Colorado at Boulder ( email )

1070 Edinboro Drive
Boulder, CO 80309
United States