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

24 Pages Posted: 18 Oct 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

Durham University

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Date Written: October 2016

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 and 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, the authors’ 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, the authors’ aim is to provoke a ‘performative turn’ in OMT by unleashing the power of the performativity concept to generate new and stronger organizational theories.

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 (October 2016). International Journal of Management Reviews, Vol. 18, Issue 4, pp. 440-463, 2016. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2853852 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/ijmr.12074

Jean-Pascal Gond (Contact Author)

Cass Business School ( email )

106 Bunhill Row
London, EC1Y 8TZ
United Kingdom

Laure Cabantous

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 States

Mark Learmonth

Durham University ( email )

Old Elvet
Mill Hill Lane
Durham, Durham DH1 3HP
United Kingdom

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