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Community as discursive void in the organizational change process
Mälardalens universitet, Akademin för ekonomi, samhälle och teknik, Industriell ekonomi och organisation. (NOMP)ORCID-id: 0000-0001-6955-8350
Mälardalens universitet, Akademin för ekonomi, samhälle och teknik, Industriell ekonomi och organisation. (NOMP)
2022 (engelsk)Konferansepaper, Oral presentation with published abstract (Annet vitenskapelig)
Abstract [en]

In organizational change processes, shared meaning and understanding is crucial (Outila et al, 2019). But what if shared meaning is hindered due to a linguistically constructed discursive void (Tietze, Tansley & Helienek, 2017, p. 152)?

In this organizational change project, the management board of an academic institution wanted to explore conditions for organizational culture in the Post-Covid organization. During the pandemic, the premises had been emptied as both teaching and research was done remote. After initial difficulties, most employees had found new ways of working from distant and did not wish to go back to campus. However, management feared that the feeling of organizational community would get lost if employees did not meet in real life over time. 

In the beginning of 2022, the internal project 'Gemenskap på distans', translated to 'Community in remote work' was introduced. But as the project was presented, management experienced resistance among coworkers. Why? The answer might lie in the word community, that linguistically counters core values in both academic and Swedish culture. 

Community is described as ‘the social fabric’ of society (Westoby & Harris, 2020) or of the organization (Baptista et al, 2020). The word ‘community’ is most often used as a noun to describe a group on a mesolevel in society or organization, (Vartiainen, 2020, p. 227). Likewise, Baptista et al (2020, p. 3) separates understandings of workplace technologies in the “individual layer” from the “group and community layer”. Community can further be related to urban tribes of people sharing common cultures (Sennett, 2012). Stemming from a Christian theological viewpoint, Cobb (2007) describe communities as emergent through internal relations of belonging and point to the close relation between community and institution, using the term ‘person-in-community’ (p. 577) to acknowledge the lack of the individual in the single term ‘community’. 

A common translation of 'community' in Swedish academic literature would be 'gemenskap'(Lundberg, 2005; Räsänen, 2009). However, this translation is ambiguious, and leaning on a German translation, where the fundamental distinction between gemeinshaft (gemenskap) and gesellshaft (samhälle) must be emphasized (Asplund, 1991). Further pointing to a difference between 'gemenskap' and 'community', the Swedish word refers to a sense of positive belonging (Svenska akademins ordbok, 2022). During the past decades the Swedish culture has gone from holding strong collective values to individualistic values emphasizing the individual as autonomous in relation to community (Lundberg, 2005). Likewise, the Swedish word 'gemenskap' builds on the individual as sensing belonging - with the individual in the center of attention (Strang, 2014). 

Even if a word is untranslatable as language, it´s meaning could be understood by a native speakers of another language, if s/he shares un understanding of the figures of thought that the word embraces (Asplund, 1991). As shared meaning is negotiated, strategies for mutual understanding and bridging sensemaking between native speakers of different languages within an organization can be deployed (Outila et al., 2019; Tietze, Tansley & Helienek, 2017). This study aims to explore such a translating process of the discursive void of community in a Post-pandemic academic organization. 

sted, utgiver, år, opplag, sider
2022.
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URN: urn:nbn:se:mdh:diva-61331OAI: oai:DiVA.org:mdh-61331DiVA, id: diva2:1719988
Konferanse
NEON-dagene, Drammen, Norway, 22-24 November, 2022
Tilgjengelig fra: 2022-12-16 Laget: 2022-12-16 Sist oppdatert: 2024-02-07bibliografisk kontrollert

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