What Do We Mean by Performativity in Organizational and Management Theory? The Uses and Abuses of Performativity

International Journal of Management Reviews, Article first published online: 7 JUL 2015. DOI: 10.1111/ijmr.12074

48 Pages Posted: 20 Jan 2016

See all articles by Jean-Pascal Gond

Jean-Pascal Gond

Cass Business School

Laure Cabantous

Cass Business School, City University London

Nancy Harding

University of Bradford

Mark Learmonth

Nottingham University Business School

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: July 7, 2015

Abstract

John Austin introduced the formulation ‘performative utterance’ in his 1962 Book How to Do Things with Words. This term and the related concept of performativity have subsequently been interpreted in numerous ways by social scientists and philosophers such as Lyotard, Butler, Callon or Barad, leading to the coexistence of several foundational perspectives on performativity. This paper reviews and evaluates critically how organization and management theory (OMT) scholars have used these perspectives, and how the power of performativity has, or has not, stimulated new theory-building. In performing a historical and critical review of performativity in OMT, our analysis reveals the uses, abuses and under-uses of the concept by OMT scholars. It also reveals the lack of both organizational conceptualizations of performativity and analysis of how performativity is organized. Ultimately, our aim is to provoke a ‘performative turn’ in OMT by unleashing the power of the performativity concept to generate new and stronger organizational theories.

Keywords: Performativity, Organization Theory, Callon, Butler, Austin, Lyotard

Suggested Citation

Gond, Jean-Pascal and Cabantous, Laure and Harding, Nancy and Learmonth, Mark, What Do We Mean by Performativity in Organizational and Management Theory? The Uses and Abuses of Performativity (July 7, 2015). International Journal of Management Reviews, Article first published online: 7 JUL 2015. DOI: 10.1111/ijmr.12074, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2718265

Jean-Pascal Gond

Cass Business School ( email )

106 Bunhill Row
London, EC1Y 8TZ
United Kingdom

Laure Cabantous (Contact Author)

Cass Business School, City University London ( email )

106 Bunhill Row
London, EC1Y 8TZ
United Kingdom

Nancy Harding

University of Bradford ( email )

Bradford
Bradford, West Yorkshire BD9 4JL
United Kingdom

Mark Learmonth

Nottingham University Business School ( email )

Jubilee Campus
Wollaton Road
Nottingham, NG8 1BB
United Kingdom

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