You are on page 1of 21

437762

CliftonJournal of Business Communication

JBC49210.1177/0021943612437762

A Discursive Approach
to Leadership: Doing
Assessments and Managing
Organizational Meanings

Journal of Business Communication


49(2) 148168
2012 by the Association for
Business Communication
Reprints and permission: http://www.
sagepub.com/journalsPermissions.nav
DOI: 10.1177/0021943612437762
http://jbc.sagepub.com

Jonathan Clifton1

Abstract
Despite the recent interest in discursive approaches to leadership, relatively little
research actually provides fine-grained analyses of how leadership is dialogically
achieved in interaction. Taking a social constructionist approach to leadership and
using discursive constructionism as a research methodology to analyze transcripts of
naturally occurring talk-in-interaction, this article explicates the doing of leadership as
a members accomplishment. It defines leadership in terms of being able to influence
the management of meaning through the way in which decisions are framed using
assessments. In this way, certain meanings are privileged over others and so meaning
is managed. Findings support current theories of leadership that show it to be a
distributed process rather than the possession of any one person. Furthermore, it is
argued that by highlighting discursive techniques by which leadership is achieved, the
results of this research can benefit practitioners.
Keywords
discursive leadership, discourse, assessments, social constructionism, decision making,
framing

Introduction
Various authors (e.g., Alvesson & Sveningsson, 2003; Barker, 1997) have claimed
that despite the fact that leadership is currently one of the most researched phenomena, we still know relatively little about it and indeed we are unsure as to whether it
1

Freelance lecturer in Business Communication, based in France

Corresponding Author:
Jonathan Clifton, 3, Rue de Moscou, Forest sur Marque, 59510, France
Email: jonathanclifton@hotmail.fr

Downloaded from job.sagepub.com at Universiti Utara Malaysia on March 25, 2016

149

Clifton

exists at all. One upshot of this frustration has been a call for a move away from a
largely quantitative research agenda to a more qualitative approach to leadership (e.g.,
Alvesson, 1996; Conger, 1998; Knights & Willmott, 1992). Moreover, within such a
qualitative paradigm, certain researchers (e.g., Fairhurst, 2007; Fairhurst & Sarr,
1996) have argued for a discursive approach to leadership whereby leadership
emerges through the process of managing the meaning of organizational events. Yet
despite this trend within leadership research, Bryman (2004) is still able to point out
that conceptualizing leadership as the management of meaning remains lofty and
slightly nebulous (p. 754). Using discursive constructionism (DC; Potter & Hepburn,
2008) as a research methodology, the purpose of this article is to provide a finegrained analysis of naturally occurring talk-in-interaction in order to show how the
management of meaning is enacted as a members accomplishment. Findings indicate
that the sequential properties of talk-in-interaction, and more specifically the doing of
assessments during decision-making talk, provide a site in which members jockey for
influence in managing the meaning of organizational events through displays of epistemic primacy and so do leadership. Furthermore, since the approach to leadership
advocated in this article can make visible the seen but unnoticed discursive resources
by which leadership is achieved, in the final section of the article, it is argued that the
findings could be of significant interest to practitioners who wish to improve their
leadership skills.

Literature Review
While it is beyond the scope of this article to provide an in-depth review of current
and past theories of leadership, suffice it to say that, following Bryman (1996), the
last 75 years of leadership research can be summed up in four broad movements: trait
theory, the style approach, contingency theory, and new leadership. Trait theory, also
known as the great man theory, which dominated thinking until the late 1940s,
attempted to locate and define key personality traits of leaders which were then classified under headings such as physical attributes, abilities, and personality. The style
approach, in fashion from the late 1940s until the late 1960s, moved away from what
leaders are to what leaders do. The contingency approach, in vogue until the early
1980s, began to pay more attention to the situated nature of leadership. The contingency approach was replaced by what Bryman (1996, p. 280) defines as new leadership which has been used to categorize and describe a number of approaches to
leadership (e.g., transformational, charismatic, visionary) which revolve around the
notion of the management of meaning. Whilst most of this research has been quantitative and rooted in social psychology, leadership research has recently seen the emergence of discursive approaches which seek to complement concepts of leadership
derived from social psychology and to show the discursive resources by which the
management of meaning is achieved (e.g., Clifton, 2006; Fairhurst, 2007, 2008, 2009;
Nielsen, 2009). Discursive leadership can be summed up as an approach to leadership
which considers that leadership is a language game in which meaning is managed.

Downloaded from job.sagepub.com at Universiti Utara Malaysia on March 25, 2016

150

Journal of Business Communication 49(2)

Leadership therefore equates with the management of meaning (cf. Smircich &
Morgan, 1982; Thayer, 1995) and, as will be in seen in this article, can emerge
through decision making since decision-talk frames and defines an issue that a projection of future action (the decision) sets out to resolve. In this language game, rights to
assess and, therefore, to define the organizational landscape are negotiated in talk and
the person, or persons, who have most influence in this process emerge as the leaders.
Thus, from this perspective, leadership is not a zero-sum game, rather it is in constant
flow as talk progresses. Consequently, leadership is not necessarily the property of
any one person; it can be distributed and it is open to challenge. However, those most
likely to emerge as leaders are those who have access to more powerful discursive
resources with which to influence the process of the negotiation of meaning.
The emergence of a discursive approach to leadership is, no doubt, in part due to
the increasing interest in the linguistic turn in organizational research (Alvesson &
Krreman, 2000). The linguistic turn considers that language is not used to make
accurate representations of prediscursive internal (cognitive) or external worlds.
Rather, language is performative and it is used to do things such as, inter alia, discursively construct what counts as the real world to the participants. As Potter
(1996) says,
[R]eality enters into human practices by way of the categories and descriptions
that are part of those practices. The world is not ready categorized by God or
nature in ways we are forced to accept. It is constituted in one way or another
as people talk it, write it, and argue it. (p. 98)
Language thus becomes synonymous with managing meaning in both organizational and nonorganizational settings. However, in organizational settings, leadership
is regarded as influencing the process of managing meaning so that certain organizational meanings are privileged over others (Fairhurst, 2008; Hosking, 1988). From a
discursive perspective, working from fine-grained analyses of naturally occurring
interaction, several researchers have added to our knowledge of the doing of leadership in interactional terms (e.g., Fairhurst, 1993; Holmes, 2005; Holmes & Marra
2004; Knights & Willmott, 1992; Samra-Fredericks, 2000). Furthermore, some
researchers have specifically combined social constructionism and fine-grained analyses of talk to explicate how meaning is managed on a turn-by-turn basis and so how
leadership emerges (e.g., Clifton, 2006; Nielsen, 2009). The purpose of this article is
to add to such research by explicating how accounts of competing suggestions for
future action are framed during decision-making talk. Through accounting for these
suggestions, assessments of the emerging decision frame the organization in a particular way and so the meaning of the decision for the organization is managed and, consequently, leadership is achieved.
The style approach, in fashion from the late 1940s until the late 1960s, moved
away from what leaders are to what leaders do.

Downloaded from job.sagepub.com at Universiti Utara Malaysia on March 25, 2016

151

Clifton

Method
In order to explicate the doing of leadership and to capture the turn-by-turn discursive resources that are deployed to manage meaning, discursive constructionist (DC)
provides the ideal research tool (cf. Potter, 1996; Potter & Hepburn, 2008). DC
remains indifferent to the existence of any external prediscursive reality and concerns
itself with the way in which factual descriptions are constructed in talk, and how
they are organized so as to be robust enough to counter alternative versions (Edwards
& Potter, 2005, p. 243). From this perspective, then, meaning is not out there in
some prediscursive fashion but has to be managed as people talk it. As Potter and
Hepburn (2008) state, from a constructionist perspective,
Discourse is the fundamental medium for action. It is the medium through
which versions of the world are constructed and made urgent or reworked as
trivial and irrelevant. For social scientists working with DC the study of discourse becomes the central way of studying mind, social processes, organizations and events as they are continually made live in human affairs. (p. 275)
As regards leadership, then, since leadership can be defined as the management of
meaning, DC provides an ideal tool for analyzing how meaning is constructed in talk
and thus it enables researchers to locate who has most influence in the management of
meaning (i.e., who the leader is, or leaders are). Furthermore, it also enables the
researcher to locate the discursive resources by which the management of meaning,
and so leadership, is achieved.
Although, unlike conversation analysis (CA), DC foregrounds constructionist
issues, methodologically it still relies heavily on CA to provide fine-grained analyses
of talk-in-interaction through which versions of reality are constructed (cf. Potter,
2003; Potter & Edwards, 2003). CA, developed by Harvey Sacks and colleagues in the
late 1960s, can be described as a data-driven way of investigating the machinery of
talk with which members enact routine social interactions and so construct the world
they are living inan intersubjective version of reality and a shared meaning of
events. As Drew (1995) states, intersubjectivity can be glossed as the production and
maintenance of mutual understanding in dialogue, of mutual intelligibility (p. 77).
Meaning, rather than being achieved through the workings of asocial mental processes, is thus considered to be an interactional achievement. The corollary of this is
that managing meaning is a members practical matter and that the sequential organization [of talk] provides a practical scaffolding for intersubjectivity, in the sense of
publically realized shared understandings (Edwards, 1997, p. 100). Moreover, the
enactment of shared understanding is visible to researchers and members alike through
the notion of the next-turn proof procedure (Sacks, Schegloff, & Jefferson, 1974,
p. 728) whereby the understanding of the prior turn at talk is confirmed in the next turn
and so a joint (intersubjective) version of reality is constructed in talk. And as Schegloff

Downloaded from job.sagepub.com at Universiti Utara Malaysia on March 25, 2016

152

Journal of Business Communication 49(2)

(1992) points out, repair in a third turn is the last systematically provided sequential
opportunity to correct displayed misunderstandings which embody a breakdown of
intersubjectivity.
A major resource for the management of meaning, and thus the accomplishment of
intersubjectivity, is the assessment of the nature of reality as perceived and constructed
by participants. As Goodwin and Goodwin (1992) note,
[T]he activity of performing assessments constitutes one of the key places
where participants negotiate and display to each other a congruent view of the
events that they encounter in their phenomenal world. It is thus a central locus
for the study of shared understandings. (p. 155)
However, such management of meaning does not take place in a social vacuum and
rights to assess are constantly being claimed, challenged, and policed as participants
jockey for influence in the process of managing meaning. Assessments come in adjacency pairs1 whereby a first assessment makes a second assessment conditionally relevant in a next turn. The relationship between first and second assessments also indexes
the relation between speakers in terms of, inter alia, epistemic entitlement (i.e., who has
the right to display what states of knowledge). Recent research (e.g., Heritage, 2002;
Heritage & Raymond 2005; Mazeland, 2009; Raymond & Heritage, 2006; Sneijder &
te Molder, 2005; Stivers, 2005) argues that epistemic entitlements to assess events, and
so manage meaning, can be achieved through the sequential properties of assessments.
Simply stated, going first is a claim to epistemic primacy whereas going second can be
seen as going with the flow and accepting anothers right to manage meaning, though
this secondness can be challenged in numerous ways (Heritage, 2002, p. 200). These
rights can, as summed up by Raymond and Heritage (2006), be negotiated in a number
of ways. For example, first assessments in their unmarked form claim unmitigated
rights to assess, but they can be upgraded via negative interrogatives which strongly
invite agreement in the next turn. First assessments, and so claims to epistemic primacy,
can also be downgraded. For example, lexically this can be achieved through the use of
modifiers (e.g., looks, seems, and so on) and syntactically this can be achieved by tag
questions which cede the first position in a sequence. Second assessments also come in
marked and unmarked forms. Unmarked forms accept the prior turns primacy and thus
the right of the prior speaker to claim epistemic primacy and manage meaning. On the
other hand, marked forms challenge the primacy of first-positioned assessments. For
example, interrogative syntax in a second turn can supplant the firstness of a prior turn,
and oh prefaces and constructions of explicit agreement (e.g., of course, indeed, obviously) can index a claim to prior knowledge.
A major resource for the management of meaning, and thus the accomplishment
of intersubjectivity, is the assessment of the nature of reality as perceived and
constructed by participants.

Downloaded from job.sagepub.com at Universiti Utara Malaysia on March 25, 2016

153

Clifton

Since going first is a claim to have the right to assess events and manage meaning,
the action that the negotiation of such sequential rights does is, inter alia, influencing
the management of meaning. First-positioned assessments claim a right to manage
meaning, and unmarked seconds confirm this claim. On the other hand, downgraded
first assessments defer to another participants rights to manage meaning and marked
seconds contest epistemic primacy inherent in the sequential properties of first assessments. The playing out of claims to epistemic primacy through the sequential positioning of assessments can therefore be seen as a site for the doing of leadership as it
makes tangible the discursive resources through which participants seek to influence
the management of meaning.

Data
The data were audio recorded during a monthly staff meeting of a European Office of
a British cultural organization. (See the appendix for list of transcription symbols
used.) The meeting was recorded on the eve of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003.
It was held around a large rectangular table in the staff common room and it took the
form of the chairman (Andy) dealing with the points on the agenda one by one and
then asking specific participants for information about projects that they were working on. Eighteen participants were present; however, in the extract presented below
only four people spoke. The speakers have been given the following pseudonyms:
Andy (the director), Betty (the assistant director), Chris (the projects officer), and
Debbie (the information and communications manager). The particular exchange
analyzed is a decision-making episode which deals with whether to screen a film
called Gas Attack at a forthcoming film festival on the opening gala night; to screen
it on another, less prominent, night; to not screen it at all; or to refer the decision to a
higher authority.

Analysis
As Svennevig (2008) comments, CA-inspired research can be used to make explicit
the machinery of talk through which leaders give instructions, frame events, form
organizational identity and so on (p. 535). Yet he also notes that the challenge for
researchers is now to go beyond methodological claims that CA-inspired research can
do this and to start delivering the goods. The following analysis explicates how during
a decision-making episode of talk, the emergent decision is accounted for by offering
different frames of assessment. As Garfinkels (1967) analysis of jurors decisionmaking concludes, contrary to lay reasoning, the outcome comes before the decision (p. 114). Thus, what is important in decision-making talk is not the decision
itself but the accounting for the decision and framing it in a morally acceptable way.
In the data presented here, frames are enacted through either assessing the film artistically or politically and so the meaning of the decision for the organization is also
negotiated. To put it bluntly, what is at stake is whether the organization makes sense

Downloaded from job.sagepub.com at Universiti Utara Malaysia on March 25, 2016

154

Journal of Business Communication 49(2)

of its environment in political or cultural terms and, therefore, whether it is primarily a


political or a cultural organization. Leadership emerges through this decision-making
process as the participants negotiate, through the sequential properties of talk, epistemic rights to assess and so seek to gain primacy in the management of meaning for
the organization. Claiming epistemic primacy influences the process of the negotiation of meaning because the participant who claims epistemic primacy also claims
superior knowledge to assess the emerging decision and so define the decisions
meaning for the organization.
The analysis is divided into five parts. The first section analyzes the initial decisionmaking talk in which the problem is raised and a solution is discussed. Second, a side
sequence2 that is subsequently treated as topic competitive is briefly discussed. The
third extract, explicates how the emerging decision is accounted for by assessing it and
framing it in political terms. The fourth and fifth extracts look at challenges to leadership enacted through challenges to epistemic rights to assess.

Extract 1: Decision Making: The Problem and Solution


The decision-making talk is initiated by Chris who, after introducing the topic Gas
Attack, seeks everybodys opinion on whether to screen the film at the opening event
or not. Betty is the first to suggest that support from headquarters should be sought
before making a decision:
1.Chris: 
= which is good and this was er: one one thing I need t=to get a bit get everyones
2.
opinion on for the opening (.) gala night (.) one for the core film festival itself
3. on the twenty first of March er great Scottish film called Gas Attack >which< talks
4. about chemical weapons in Iraq and asylum seeker dispersal programs [ in the UK ]
5Debbie:
[ we tried it ]
6. last year but [ didnt ]
7. Chris: [ .hhh ] so: extremely hot topic.
8. (.5)
9. Chris [ but
10. Andy: [on the twenty first?]
11. Betty: [ I thi:::nk
] I think we may we may need to run that one past (.) [er:::
12. Chris:
[ we
13might need t=to run it past [ a few people first ]
14. Betty:
[ I think wed better ] check (.) we need to make sure
15. were getting strong support from er from headquarters.

In Line 1, Chris initiates the topic of getting everyones opinion on the choice of
films for the film festival and more particularly on showing the film Gas Attack on
the opening night. He assesses the film as being great (Line 3) which implicitly
suggests that it should be screened. He then (Line 4) describes the film as being about
chemical weapons in Iraq and asylum seeker dispersal programs in the UK and in

Downloaded from job.sagepub.com at Universiti Utara Malaysia on March 25, 2016

155

Clifton

the continuation of his turn, he assesses the film as an extremely hot topic. It is, in
other words, a problem in search of a solution and this first turn initiates a search for
a solution to the problem and leads to decision-making talk (cf. Clifton, 2009). After
a pause (Line 8) Andy, Betty, and Chris simultaneously self-select to take the floor.
Chris projects a continuation of his turn (but) but he is overlapped by Andy who
verifies the date (Line 10: on the twenty first?). Betty, on the other hand, stretches
the vowel in thi::::nk as a way of holding the floor (Schegloff, 2000, p. 12) and once
she has gained the floor, she repeats her turn component in the clear and suggests
future action that would solve the problem issue of showing the film (Line 11: I think
we may need to run that one past (.) [er:::). As she continues her turn, she hesitates
and Chris (Line 12) overlaps, repeats her turn and then adds an increment to it (Line
13: run it past a few people first). This displays alignment and agreement with Bettys
projection of future action (Hutchby & Wooffitt, 2008, p. 233). However, in Line 14,
speaking more loudly as a way of taking the floor (Schegloff, 2000), Betty then overlaps Chris to complete her turn ( I think wed better ] check (.) we need to make sure
were getting strong support from er from headquarters). The suggestion on the table
at this point is clearly that they need to seek guidance from headquarters.

Extract 2: A Side Sequence


Despite the fact that a suggestion for solving the problem has been made, Debbie
takes a turn which initiates another topic. Potentially, this could topicalize the reactions of the businesses and sponsors and so move the topic away from resolving the
issue of screening the film by referring the idea to headquarters:
16. Debbie: h=how did how did the businesses feel about when you when you talked about
17.
Gas Attack with the sponsors
18. Chris: theyve yet to get back actually (.2) in back erm (.) but otherwise were shaping up
19. for a great program. (.) er Ive got a real mix of films erm sort of innovative
20. themes >[and] theres AKA< which is a great film sort of (.) split triptych screen =
22. ?
[uhu]
23. =and hopefully some directors [and] actors coming out to talk its great (.) and
24. ?

[ an ]
25. Chris: th=the actors of Sweet Sixteen.
26. Debbie: excellent.

In Line 16, Debbie self-selects to ask how did the businesses feel about when you
talked about Gas Attack with sponsors. Chris provides a conditionally relevant
response to Debbies question about the businesses and sponsors in the next turn (Line
18: theyve yet to get back actually). He then carries out a topic transition to another
film (AKA), which is also in the film festival and the fact that some directors and
actors will be coming to talk. He assesses these events as great (Lines 20 and 23).
Debbie then aligns with these assessments (Line 26: excellent).

Downloaded from job.sagepub.com at Universiti Utara Malaysia on March 25, 2016

156

Journal of Business Communication 49(2)

Extract 3: Accounting for the Decision


by Assessing It and Framing It in Political Terms
In the following sequence, Betty, orienting to the prior talk as topic competitive, skipconnects3 to her prior turn and then frames her assessment of the suggestion to screen
the film in political terms. In doing this, she claims the first slot in an assessment
sequence and so claims primary rights to manage the meaning of the emerging decision and so she does leadership. Andy, the hierarchic superior, does not contest this
in a second turn and, on a turn-by-turn basis, accepts Bettys leadership talk:
27. Betty: >I mean< one of the things (.) with particularly whats happened this morning is
28. that erm France and Belgium blocked the NATO [ resolution ] erm I think
29. Andy:
[NATO yeah]
30. Betty: its quite a kind of monumental. [ I mean ] it really is extraordinary erm as
31. ?
[ uhu ]
32. we might see [ not ] er only the beginning of the end of NATO but I think ( .) we
33. Chris:
[ yeah]
34. may well be seeing another nail in Tony Blairs coffin. (.) t= to be honest (.) so it could
35. actually work (.) very strongly in our favor but its very risky and I think well
36.
probably need to get corporate. (.3) Chris Smiths [su ]pport.
37. Chris:
[yeah]
38. Andy: yes .hhhh I think thats that fits in the [ area ] of risk management. (.2)[yeah ]
39. Chris:
[ yeah ]
[ artist]ically

In Line 27, Betty orients to the prior talk as topic competitive. First, she speeds up
her talk to ensure that she gets the floor and, second, rather than linking her talk to the
prior turn, she skip-connects to a nonimmediately prior turn. As Sacks (1992) points
out, this is used in topic competitive situations and is a way of returning to a nonimmediately prior topic and of treating the intervening talk as topic competitive.
Moreover, by prefacing her turn with I mean, she specifically ties her forthcoming
talk to her prior talk and announces it as a reformulation of that talk. Having succeeded in fighting off topic competitive talk, she accounts for her suggestion to seek
corporate support and frames it in political terms of what happened this morning
which refers to the fact that France and Belgium blocked a NATO resolution to support Turkey prior to the war in Iraq. This is followed by a second political reference,
this time to Tony Blair (Line 34), which again frames the emerging decision politically. Using a dispreferred structure containing weak agreement using a conditional
form, which is stressed for emphasis (it could actually work very strongly in our
favor), followed by disagreement (but), she disaligns with Chriss implied projection
of future action to screen the film and restates her suggestion that the decision to
screen the film requires corporate. (0.3) Chris Smiths support. Significantly, she
accounts for this suggestion by assessing the showing of the film as very risky (Line
35). She thus claims epistemic primacy by occupying a first slot in the assessment of

Downloaded from job.sagepub.com at Universiti Utara Malaysia on March 25, 2016

157

Clifton

showing the film (as opposed to assessing the qualities of the film itself). This first
assessment therefore makes a second assessment conditionally relevant in a next turn.
In Line 38, Andy self-selects to provide a second assessment which aligns with
Bettys assessment (yes .hhhh I think thats that fits in the area of risk management.).
Since it is in an unmarked form, it displays acceptance of Bettys right to claim epistemic primacy and thus, in terms of the doing of leadership, it indicates that the management of meaning is not necessarily commensurate with company hierarchy since it
is Betty, the assistant director, who is claiming primacy in terms of assessing the
meaning of the emerging decision for the organization and framing it in political
terms. Andy, the director, is taking a supporting role.

Extract 4: A Challenge to the Assessment


In the following sequence, Chris implicitly provides an alternative way of assessing
the film (i.e., in artistic rather than political terms). Andy and Betty orient to this as a
challenge to their rights to manage meaning, and, so also, their leadership:
38. Andy: yes .hhhh I think thats that fits in the [ area ] of risk management. (.2) [yeah ]
39. Chris:
[yeah ]
[ artist]ically
40. Andy:
41. Chris: it is a very strong film as well
42. Andy: yes I I can I accept that [ I ] accept that [ but ]
43. Betty:
[ but ]
[> but ] thats the criteria < but thats
44.
the [criteria. ]
45. Chris:
[ yeah ]
46. Andy: I think wed be sailing quite close to the breeze (.) there [ so ] wed have to be
47. Chris:
[ yeah ]
48. Andy: <really really careful>
49. Betty: and we really cant. (.) I mean it would be very difficult and were going to be inviting
50.
Brian [to the big ] opening
51. Chris(?):
[ yeah
]

In Line 39 (artistically its a very strong film as well), Chris takes the floor and
takes a turn which is oriented to in the following turn by Andy and Betty as being,
implicitly, a suggestion that the film should be screened. Chriss turn also sets up an
alternative frame for assessing the film (i.e., assessing the film on its artistic merits
rather than on political expediency) and, thus, this constitutes a challenge to Bettys
and Andys leadership by proposing alternative criteria for framing the suggestion to
show the film. In Line 42, Andy fills the slot to make a conditionally relevant response
(yes I I can I accept that [ I ] accept that [ but ] ). This turn is designed in classic dispreferred shape: beginning with weak agreement and then projecting disagreement in
the second part of his turn with the conjunction but. However, as the turn is in
progress, Betty is able to predict the continuation of the turn and, speeding up and

Downloaded from job.sagepub.com at Universiti Utara Malaysia on March 25, 2016

158

Journal of Business Communication 49(2)

speaking more loudly to ensure she gets the floor, she completes Andys turn with a
collaborative continuer4 (Line 43: [ > but ] thats the criteria but thats the criteria <).
The referent thats is vague, but since this is a collaborative continuer it is hearable
as referring to Andys proposed political frame for assessing the showing of the film
as the criteria on which the decision should be based. The collaborative completion
has the effect of claiming joint authorship of the turn which reinforces Andys disalignment with the artistic frame of assessing the film (cf. Mazeland, 2009).
Significantly, this can be hearable as doing being team (Kangasharju, 1996; Sacks,
1992). Moreover, in terms of epistemic states, it also displays that the members of the
team know what is on each others minds so that what the initial speaker of the turn
knows, the completer of the turn also knows (Sacks, 1992). Consequently, who is
doing leadership is a fluid phenomenon that can change on a turn-by-turn basis and
here it can be seen to be jointly claimed by both Andy and Betty. Moreover, as Daz,
Antaki, and Collins (1996) state, the joint authoring of a turn through the use of increments makes confirmation or discomfirmation of the increment conditionally relevant
in the next turn. In this case, the increment is confirmed by Andy who aligns with it
in the next turn and provides an assessment (Line 46: I think wed be sailing quite
close to the breeze (.) there [so] wed have to be < really really careful >). Interestingly,
Betty also adds an increment onto this turn (Line 49: and we really cant. (.) I mean it
would be very difficult and were going to be inviting Brian [to the big] opening). In
this way, she again coauthors the turn and so claims incumbency of the same identity
as Andy and so claims equal rights to manage meaning, assess organizational reality
and so do leadership. Moreover, she also reinforces the political frame of assessment
by topicalizing the fact that Brian (the British Ambassador) will be attending the
event.

Extract 5: A Second Challenge to the


Political Assessment and Decision Announcing
In the final extract, Debbie agrees with Andy and Bettys framing of the decision in
political terms. By acknowledging this, and by interactionally surrendering her own
assessment of the organizational meaning of the emerging decision, Debbie does followership:
52.
53.
54.
55.
56.
57.

Debbie: but we should go with the criteria of the best of British films so
Andy: .hhhh yes [ but were not oper]ating in a vacuum (.2) [ a policy vacuum ]
Betty:
[ yes we should but ]
[ we should but ]
Debbie:
I know thats our justification isnt it
Betty:
yeah
Andy:
erm (.2) and on the third its Sweet Sixteen?

In Line 52 (but we should go with the criteria of the best of British films so),
Debbie continues to put forward an alternative frame for assessing the screening

Downloaded from job.sagepub.com at Universiti Utara Malaysia on March 25, 2016

159

Clifton

which challenges the frame, or criteria on which to base the decision, set by Andy and
Betty (Lines 40 ff.). She also aligns as a team with Chris (Kangasharju, 1996) because
she orients to Chriss utterance artistically its a very strong film as well (Line 39)
as an argument that the film should be screened and she endorses it. So, coming at
the end of her turn, and with an emphatic falling intonation, orients to the confrontational nature of the exchange by, on the one hand, challenging the relevance of Andy
and Bettys political frame to the assessment of Gas Attack and, on the other hand,
challenging them to take the floor and address her claim to frame the assessment of
Gas Attack in cultural terms (Hutchby, 1996). Moreover, it also suggests a logical
upshot of her turn that the film should indeed be screened. After this challenge, a
response becomes conditionally relevant and in the following turn (Line 53), Andy
takes an in-breath and begins with an agreement token (yes) which, in classic dispreferred turn shape, projects upcoming disagreement. Disagreement (were not operating in a vacuum a policy vacuum) comes after the conjunction but. Through lexical
choice (policy vacuum), Andy accounts for his assessment of the film in political
rather than artistic terms and, thus, the implicit suggestion is that the film should not
be screened on the gala night or at least that support from headquarters should be
sought. Significantly, Betty self-selects (Line 54: yes we should but. . . . we should
but), overlaps Andys turn, and also projects a dispreferred turn which also does
disagreement with Debbies assessment and complements Andys action of disaligning with Debbies frame of assessment.
However, before Betty completes her turn, Debbie takes the floor. In Line 55,
Debbie accepts this assessment: I know thats our justification isnt it. Yet despite the
acceptance of the politically framed assessment, Debbie displays dissent by challenging claims to epistemic primacy and thus to leadership. The explicit agreement token
I know displays that her opinion was held prior to Andy and Bettys assessment and
therefore is not subject to the loss of epistemic primacy inherent in a second position
(Sneijder & te Molder, 2005). Moreover, she upgrades this second-positioned assessment with a negative interrogative which projects a strong preference for agreement in
the next turn (Heritage & Raymond, 2005; Raymond & Heritage, 2006). Her assessment, while accepting the political framing of Gas Attack, simultaneously frames the
assessment as politically expedient since we should frame the assessment in cultural
terms. The organization is now framed as a pseudocultural organization ruled by political expediency. Moreover, the negative interrogative (isnt it) strongly invites agreement in the next turn which is provided by Betty (Line 56: yeah). In terms of leadership,
by strongly upgrading a second assessment, the negative interrogative challenges
Andy and Bettys claims to manage meaning through the doing of epistemic primacy.
However, before Betty can go on to expand her turn, Andy (Line 57) uses his
category-bound5 discursive right as chairperson to change topic to Sweet Sixteen and
so, having achieved agreement, he closes the negotiation of the assessment of Gas
Attack and fixes the meaning of the decision in political rather than cultural terms. Not
only does he fix the meaning, but he also authorizes the decision to get corporate support. This is because all participants can participate in decision-making talk but once

Downloaded from job.sagepub.com at Universiti Utara Malaysia on March 25, 2016

160

Journal of Business Communication 49(2)

agreement has been interactionally achieved, the decision has to be announced as such
by an authorized decision announcer (Clifton, 2009). In this case, Debbies acknowledgment that I know thats our justification isnt it is oriented to as agreement and
once agreement is achieved, Andy changes topic to prevent further decision-making
talk concerning the showing of the film. The decision to refer the showing of the film
to head office has been made and this has been accounted for by the assessment that
showing the film is politically risky. Significantly, in what retrospectively becomes
the final stage of the negotiation of the frame for assessing whether or not to show the
film, Chris is notable by his absence. His silence accepts Andys framing of the decision and so does followership by confirming Andys right to frame the decision in
political terms.

Observations
While a short episode in a meeting can be dismissed as a minor event in the organizations history, it has a lot more significance. This is because it catches the doing of the
organization, in which the balance between political and cultural priorities is being
negotiated, in flight. From a social constructionist view of organization, such routine
interactions, rather than being epiphenomena of preexisting structures, talk the
organization into being. In other words, organizations do not have a prediscursive
existence. They are discursively created through the negotiation of meaning that is
attributed to past, present, and future events. This intersubjective reality is then conceptually fixed, labeled, and reified as if it were a prediscursive essentialist entity
which comes into being as the organization. As Mumby and Clair (1997) put it,
[W]e suggest that organizations exist only in so far as their members create them
through discourse. This is not to claim that organizations are nothing but discourse, but rather that discourse is the principal means by which organization members create a coherent social reality that frames their sense of who they are. (p. 181)
From this perspective, talk is organization to the extent that talk creates the facticity of the organization. In the transcript analyzed above, the organization is talked
into being as primarily a political, rather than artistic, entity. Through a process of
laminating (Boden, 1994; Fairhurst & Putnam, 2004; Taylor & van Every, 2000),
selections from past practices and organizational meanings are enacted in the here and
now and so laminate upon prior meanings so that the organization emerges. Such laminated and shared understandings enable particular ways of framing events to become
routine and it is through such a process that organizational members achieve an intersubjective understanding which allows for coordinated (organizational) action.
Leadership, then, is a relational process of influence which is embedded within the
wider discursive process of organizing (cf. Hosking, 1988; Uhl-Bien, 2006; Wood,
2005). As such, by providing a fine-grained analysis of how influencing the process of
the management of meaning is achieved, the findings of this article can complement

Downloaded from job.sagepub.com at Universiti Utara Malaysia on March 25, 2016

161

Clifton

contemporary research that considers leadership to be the management of meaning.


First, it can be seen that, as various leadership researchers have pointed out (e.g.,
Hosking, 1988), leadership is not necessarily commensurate with hierarchy. This can
be seen through the way in which Betty, the assistant director, is the first to frame the
assessment politically (Lines 27 ff.) and so takes the lead in framing the organization
politically. Andy, on the other hand, since he makes an assessment in an unmarked
second position, confirms the primacy of his hierarchic subordinate to define organizational reality.
However, since leadership is a process rather than a zero-sum game, it is in constant
flow. When (Line 41) Chris, the projects officer, offers an alternative frame for assessing the film, Andy takes the lead (Line 42) in disaligning with this frame. However, on
two occasions (Lines 43 and 49), Betty aligns with Andy through the exploitation of
discursive resources (i.e., increments) to coauthor a turn. In so doing, she claims equal
epistemic rights to manage the meaning of the emergent decision. Thus, through the
doing of increments and making interactionally relevant coincumbency of identity, participants can do being a team and so can jointly manage meaning. Leadership can thus
be jointly held which, therefore, supports research that argues that leadership is distributed amongst some, many, or even all members of an organization (e.g., Gronn, 2002).
Furthermore, leadership is not the property of certain participants but it is open to
challenge. This can be seen in the alternative frame for assessment that Chris (Line 41)
and Debbie (Line 52) put forward. However, using discursive resources available to
him as chairman, Andy is able to implicitly announce the decision by orienting to
Debbies prior turn as agreement and so close topic which also closes the negotiation
of the meaning of screening Gas Attack and fixes it in political terms. Thus, while
leadership may not be commensurate with hierarchy, access to discursive resources
that are category-bound5 to more powerful identities, such as chairperson, may skew
the ability to do leadership in favor of people incumbent of certain organizational
identities.
Finally, if leadership cannot be conceived of as a zero-sum game, then neither can
followership. On a turn-by-turn basis, followership can be seen to be enacted in various ways as participants surrender their power to manage meaning to others. Chris at
first seems to challenge the political frame of assessment but then his silence acquiesces to the framing of the decision to refer the issue to head office in political terms
and so he does followership. Debbie, despite putting up a fight through claims to
epistemic primacy, displays agreement with the politically framed assessments of
Andy and Betty and so also does, albeit reticently, followership. She does this by
agreeing with the politically framed assessment. However, by simultaneously displaying epistemic primacy, she also challenges Andy and Bettys claim to manage meaning through epistemic superiority.
However, since leadership is a process rather than a zero-sum game, it is in
constant flow.

Downloaded from job.sagepub.com at Universiti Utara Malaysia on March 25, 2016

162

Journal of Business Communication 49(2)

Conclusions
This article shows that one way of doing leadership as a members practical achievement is through the way in which assessments are sequentially placed, collaboratively
completed, or upgraded so that participants are able to jockey for epistemic primacy
in managing the meaning of organizational events and so do leadership. From such
a discursive perspective, managers do not need more grand theories of leadership,
rather they require a greater understanding of the discursive resources that are available to them that enable them to do leadership. The research presented in this article,
building on other discursive work on leadership (op cit), can give practitioners the
practical skills that enable them to influence the management of meaning and, as this
article demonstrates, one way of doing this is through the sequential placement of
assessments. In short, going first makes a claim to epistemic primacy in the management of meaning and going second can be seen as following somebody elses lead.
However, the first-position assessment can be neutralized through collaborative
completion which claims joint epistemic primacy (as Betty does) or it can be challenged through upgrades (as Debbie does).
A further contribution to leadership research that this article makes is to foster a
greater understanding of mundane institutional interaction through which leadership is
achieved. If leadership, as Pondy (1978) argues, is a language game, then discursive
resources become counters in the game and a corollary of this is that the doing of leadership could be improved through a greater understanding of how language is used in
everyday workplace interaction. However, despite the increasing recognition of the
linguistic turn in organizational research, Weick (2004) is still able to point out that
practitioners act according to lay theories that consider talk to be separate from, and
inferior to, action. This denigration of language can trace its origins to the Enlightenment
which began to consider truth and meaning to be hidden by rhetorical sleights of hand.
Thomas Sprats (1667) History of the Royal Society of London: For the Improving of
Natural Knowledge, for example, promoted a pure style of speech and writing which
was to act as a harbinger of Enlightenment ideas on the relationship between language
and reality. Leaving aside the paradoxical nature of the rhetorical design (e.g., use of
contrast, three-part lists, alliteration, etc.) of a text which denounces rhetoric, Sprat
(1667) states that
[T]hey [the Royal Society] have been more rigorous in putting in Execution the
only Remedy that can be found for this Extravagance; and that has been a constant Resolution, to reject all the Amplifications, Digressions, and Swellings of
Style: to return back to primitive Purity and Shortness, when men deliverd so
many Things, almost in an equal Number of Words. They have extracted from
all their Members, a close, naked, natural way of Speaking; positive Expression,
Clear Senses; a native Easiness: bringing all Things as near to mathematical
Plainness as they can: and preferring the Language of Artisans, Countrymen,
and Merchants, before that of Wits, or Scholars. (p. 113)

Downloaded from job.sagepub.com at Universiti Utara Malaysia on March 25, 2016

163

Clifton

Furthermore, as Scollon and Scollon (1995) argue, the Enlightenment conception


of language as an empty vessel for transporting ideas, thoughts, meanings, and (prediscursive) truths from one individual to another is still the most prevalent approach to
talk in organizations. Faced with 400 years of history which considers language to be
peripheral to prediscursive truths, discursive approaches to organization face an uphill
battle for legitimacy. However, as Weick (2004) argues, a paradigm change could be
possible if researchers can convince practitioners of the performative nature of language. More specifically, in terms of leadership, practitioners must be convinced of
the importance of routine (leadership) communication in managing meaning through,
for example, the assessing and framing of events. This article, therefore, advocates an
approach to leadership, as a practical accomplishment, in which the role of language
is more widely acknowledged. Practitioners, rather than being scientists or engineers
applying the latest theories of leadership, are thus considered to be practical authors
(Shotter, 1993) who manage meaning by using the discursive resources of talk available to them to influence the framing of the organization and so manage the meaning
of events within the organizational landscape.
From such a discursive perspective, managers do not need more grand theories
of leadership, rather they require a greater understanding of the discursive
resources that are available to them that enable them to do leadership.
Yet owing to popular (mis)conceptions of language, as Fairhurst and Sarr (1996)
note, leadership is a language game, one that many do not know they are playing.
Even though most leaders spend nearly 70% of their time communicating, they pay
little attention to how they use language as a tool of influence (p. xi). From this perspective, it is necessary to raise practitioner awareness of the importance of language
in the doing of leadership and to join calls by researchers, such as Cunliffe (2001),
Daft and Wiginton (1979), and Shotter (1993), who argue for recognition of the centrality of language in management. They argue that a knowledge and awareness of
natural language skills that do leadership may be more useful for practitioners than
further abstract grand theories of leadership. Ultimately, a discursive approach to leadership which considers practitioners to be practical authors of organizational reality
would argue for more than a passing interest to be paid to classical and neoclassical
approaches to education in which the power of talk (rhetoric and oratory) was fully
recognized and was taught as an integral part of the curriculum. It would also be commensurate with trends in management research that place a greater emphasis on the,
so-called, soft skills of management and that view management as a craft rather than
as a hard science (e.g., Mintzberg, 1987).

Downloaded from job.sagepub.com at Universiti Utara Malaysia on March 25, 2016

164

Journal of Business Communication 49(2)

Appendix
Transcription Symbols Used
(2.5)
(.)
[word]
:
=
word, word
.
?
Excellent
< word >
>word <
.hh
word

approximate length of pause in seconds


micro pause
overlapping utterances
sound stretching
latched utterances
marked movement in pitch
falling intonation
rising intonation
stressed syllable
slower than surrounding talk
faster than surrounding talk
inbreath
spoken more softly than surrounding talk

Declaration of Conflicting Interests


The author(s) declared no potential conflicts of interest with respect to the research, authorship,
and/or publication of this article.

Funding
The author(s) received no financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of
this article.

Notes
1. An adjacency pair consists of two adjacent turns at talk. The first turn in the sequence makes
a particular action in the second part of the pair conditionally relevant. If this second action
is not made it will be noticeably absent and will become interactionally significant.
2. A side sequence is a break-in, rather than termination of, an ongoing activity (Jefferson,
1972).
3. Skip-connecting is the production of an utterance which is related to a turn that is not immediately prior to it (Sacks, 1992).
4. A collaborative completion is an increment which syntactically, lexically, and prosodically
completes a turn-in-progress and thus allows two different participants to coauthor a turn
(Vorreiter, 2003).
5. Discursive resources that are category-bound to certain identities are resources that are oriented to as restricted to participants who are incumbent of those identities.

References
Alvesson, M. (1996). Leadership studies: From procedure and abstraction to reflexivity and
situation. Leadership Quarterly, 7, 455-485.

Downloaded from job.sagepub.com at Universiti Utara Malaysia on March 25, 2016

165

Clifton

Alvesson, M., & Krreman, D. (2000). Taking the linguistic turn in organizational research.
Challenges, responses, consequences. Journal of Applied Behavioral Science, 36,
136-158.
Alvesson, M., & Sveningsson, S. (2003). The great disappearing act: Difficulties in doing leadership. Leadership Quarterly, 14, 359-381.
Barker, R. (1997). How can we train leaders if we dont know what leadership is? Human Relations, 50, 343-362.
Boden, D. (1994). The business of talk: Organizations in action. Cambridge, England: Polity
Press.
Bryman, A. (1996). Leadership in organizations. In S. Clegg, C. Hardy, & W. Ward (Eds.),
Handbook of organization studies (pp. 276-292). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Bryman, A. (2004). Qualitative research on leadership: A critical but appreciative review. Leadership Quarterly, 15, 729-769.
Clifton, J. (2006). A conversation analytical approach to business communication: The case of
leadership. Journal of Business Communication, 43, 202-219.
Clifton, J. (2009). Beyond taxonomies of influence. Doing influence and making decisions in
management team meetings. Journal of Business Communication, 46, 57-59.
Conger, J. (1998). Qualitative research as the cornerstone methodology for understanding leadership. Leadership Quarterly, 9, 107-121.
Cunliffe, A. (2001). Managers as practical authors: Reconstructing our understanding of management practice. Journal of Management Studies, 38, 351-372.
Daft, R., & Wiginton, J. (1979). Language and organization. Academy of Management Review,
4, 179-191.
Daz, F., Antaki, C., & Collins, A. (1996). Using completion to formulate a statement collectively. Journal of Pragmatics, 26, 525-542.
Drew, P. (1995). Conversation analysis. In J. Smith, R. Harr, & L. van Langenhove (Eds.),
Rethinking methods in psychology (pp. 64-79). London, England: Sage.
Edwards, D. (1997). Discourse and cognition. London, England: Sage.
Edwards, D., & Potter, J. (2005). Discursive psychology, mental states and descriptions. In H. te
Molder & J. Potter (Eds.), Conversation and cognition (pp. 241-259). Cambridge, England:
Cambridge University Press.
Fairhurst, G. (1993). The leader-member exchange patterns of women leaders in industry: A
discourse analysis. Communication Monographs, 60, 321-351.
Fairhurst, G. (2007). Discursive leadership: In conversation with leadership psychology.
Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Fairhurst, G. (2008). Discursive leadership. A communication alternative to leadership psychology. Management Communication Quarterly, 24, 510-521.
Fairhurst, G. (2009). Considering context in discursive leadership research. Human Relations,
62, 1607-1633.
Fairhurst, G., & Putnam, L. (2004). Organisations as discursive constructions. Communication
Theory, 14, 5-26.

Downloaded from job.sagepub.com at Universiti Utara Malaysia on March 25, 2016

166

Journal of Business Communication 49(2)

Fairhurst, G., & Sarr, R. (1996). The art of framing: Managing the language of leadership. San
Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
Garfinkel, H. (1967). Studies in ethnomethodology. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.
Goodwin, C., & Goodwin, M. (1992). Assessments and the construction of context. In A. Duranti &
C. Goodwin (Eds.), Rethinking context. Language as an interactive phenomenon (pp. 147-190).
Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press.
Gronn, P. (2002). Distributed leadership as a unit of analysis. Leadership Quarterly, 13, 423-451.
Heritage, J. (2002). Oh-prefaced responses to assessments: A method of modifying agreement/
disagreement. In C. Ford, B. Fox, & S. Thompson (Eds.), The language of turn and sequence
(pp. 196-224). Oxford, England: Oxford University Press.
Heritage, J., & Raymond, G. (2005). The terms of agreement: Indexing epistemic authority and
subordination in talk-in-interaction. Social Psychology Quarterly, 68, 15-38.
Holmes, J. (2005). Leadership talk: How leaders do mentoring and is gender relevant. Journal
of Pragmatics, 37, 1779-1800.
Holmes, J., & Marra, M. (2004). Leadership and managing conflict in meetings. Pragmatics,
14, 439-462.
Hosking, D. (1997). Organizing, leadership, and skilful process. In K. Grint (Ed.), Leadership.
Classical, contemporary, and critical approaches (pp. 293-318). Oxford, England: Oxford
University Press. (Reprinted from Journal of Management Studies, 25, 148-166, 1988)
Hutchby, I. (1996). Power in discourse: The case of arguments on a British talk radio show.
Discourse & Society, 7, 481-497.
Hutchby, I., & Wooffitt, R. (2008). Conversation analysis (2nd ed.). Cambridge, England:
Polity Press.
Jefferson, G. (1972). Side sequences. In D. Sudnow (Ed.), Studies in social interaction (pp. 294-338).
New York, NY: Free Press.
Kangasharju, H. (1996). Aligning as a team in multiparty conversation. Journal of Pragmatics,
26, 291-319.
Knights, D., & Willmott, H. (1992). Conceptualizing leadership processes. A study of senior
managers in a financial services company. Journal of Management Studies, 29, 761-782.
Mazeland, H. (2009, September). Analyzing problems in team discussions. Paper presented at
Second International Workshop on Discourse in Organizations (DiO), Ghent, Belgium.
Mintzberg, H. (1987). Crafting strategy. Harvard Business Review, July-August, 66-75.
Mumby, D., & Clair, R. (1997). Organizational discourse. In T. A. van Dijk (Ed.), Discourse as
social interaction (pp. 181-205). London, England: Sage.
Nielsen, M. (2009). Interpretive management in business meetings. Understanding managers
interactional strategies through conversation analysis. Journal of Business Communication,
46, 23-56.
Pondy, L. (1978). Leadership is a language game. In M. McCall & M. Lombardo (Eds.), Leadership: Where else can we go? (pp. 87-99). Greensboro, NC: Center for Creative Leadership.
Potter, J. (1996). Representing reality. London, England: Sage.
Potter, J. (2003). Discursive psychology. Between method and paradigm. Discourse & Society,
14, 783-794.

Downloaded from job.sagepub.com at Universiti Utara Malaysia on March 25, 2016

167

Clifton

Potter, J., & Edwards, D. (2003). Rethinking cognition: On Coulter on discourse and mind.
Human Studies, 26, 165-181.
Potter, J., & Hepburn, A. (2008). Discursive constructionism. In J. A. Holstein & J. F. Gubrium
(Eds.), Handbook of constructionist research (pp. 275-293). New York, NY: Guilford.
Raymond, G., & Heritage, J. (2006). The epistemics of social relationships: Owning grandchildren. Language in Society, 35, 677-705.
Sacks, H. (1992). Lectures on conversation (Vols. 1 and 2, edited by Gail Jefferson with introduction by Emanuel A. Schegloff). Oxford, England: Basil Blackwell.
Sacks, H., Schegloff, E., & Jefferson, G. (1974). A simplest systematics for the organization of
turn-taking for conversation. Language, 50, 696-735.
Samra-Fredericks, D. (2000). Doing boards-in-action research: An ethnographic approach for
the capture and analysis of directors and senior managers interactive routines. Corporate
Governance: An International Review, 8, 244-257.
Schegloff, E. (1992). Repair after next turn: The last structurally provided defense of intersubjectivity in conversation. American Journal of Sociology, 97, 1295-1345.
Schegloff, E. (2000). Overlapping talk and the organization of turn-taking for conversation.
Language in Society, 29, 1-63.
Scollon, R., & Scollon, S. W. (1995). Intercultural communication. A discursive approach.
Oxford, England: Blackwell.
Shotter, J. (1993). Conversational realities. Constructing life through language. London,
England: Sage.
Smircich, L., & Morgan, G. (1982). Leadership. The management of meaning. Journal of
Applied Behavioral Science, 18, 257-273.
Sneijder, P., & te Molder, H. (2005). Disputing food taste: Foods pleasures an achievement in
interaction. Appetite, 45, 51-61.
Sprat, T. (1667). History of the Royal Society of London: For the improving of natural knowledge. Retrieved from http://www.archive.org/stream/historyroyalsoc00martgoog#page/n0/
mode/1up
Stivers, T. (2005). Modified repeats: One method for asserting primary rights from second position. Research on Language and Social Interaction, 38, 131-158.
Svennevig, J. (2008). Exploring leadership conversations. Management Communication Quarterly, 21, 529-536.
Taylor, J., & van Every, E. (2000). The emergent organization: Communication as its site and
surface. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.
Thayer, L. (1995). Leadership/communication: A critical review and a modest proposal. In
G. Goldhaber & G. Barnett (Eds.), Handbook of organizational communication (pp. 231-263).
Norwood, NJ: Ablex.
Uhl-Bien, M. (2006). Relational leadership theory: Exploring the social processes of leadership
and organizing. Leadership Quarterly, 17, 654-676.
Vorreiter, S. (2003). Turn continuations: Towards a cross-linguistic classification. Interaction
and Linguistic Structures, No. 39. Retrieved from http://kops.ub.uni-konstanz.de/bitstream/
handle/urn:nbn:de:bsz:352-opus-11486/Inlist39.pdf?sequence=1

Downloaded from job.sagepub.com at Universiti Utara Malaysia on March 25, 2016

168

Journal of Business Communication 49(2)

Weick, K. (2004). A bias for conversation: Acting discursively in organizations. In D. Grant,


C. Hardy, C. Oswick, & L. Putnam (Eds.), The Sage handbook of organizational discourse
(pp. 405-412). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Wood, M. (2005). The fallacy of misplaced leadership. Journal of Management Studies, 42,
1101-1121.

Bio
Jonathan Clifton has a PhD in applied linguistics from the University of Antwerp. He is currently a freelance lecturer in Business Communication, based in France. His research interests
include discursive leadership, workplace interaction, and intercultural communication.

Downloaded from job.sagepub.com at Universiti Utara Malaysia on March 25, 2016