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Research Methods for Non-Representational Approaches of Organizational Complexity. The Dialogical and Mediated Inquiry

Yves Clot (), Philippe Lorino () and Benoît Tricard ()
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Yves Clot: Conservatoire National des Arts et Métiers, Postal: 41 rue Gay-Lussac, 75005 PARIS, FRANCE,
Philippe Lorino: ESSEC Business School, Postal: Avenue Bernard Hirsch - B.P. 50105 , 95021 CERGY PONTOISE Cedex, FRANCE,
Benoît Tricard: ICN Business School, Postal: 13 rue Michel Ney - CO 75, 54037 NANCY Cedex, FRANCE

No DR 10004, ESSEC Working Papers from ESSEC Research Center, ESSEC Business School

Abstract: This paper explores the methodological implications of non-representational approaches of organizational complexity. Representational theories focus on the syntactic complexity of systems, whereas organizing processes are predominantly characterized by semantic and pragmatic forms of complexity. After underlining the contribution of non-representational approaches to the study of organizations, the paper warns against the risk of confining the critique of representational frameworks to paradoxical dichotomies like intuition versus reflexive thought or theorizing versus experimenting. To sort out this difficulty, it is suggested to use a triadic theory of interpretation, and more particularly the concepts of semiotic mediation, inquiry and dialogism. Semiotic mediation dynamically links situated experience and generic classes of meanings. Inquiry articulates logical thinking, narrative thinking and experimenting. Dialogism conceptualizes the production of meaning through the situated interactions of actors. A methodological approach based on those concepts, “the dialogical and mediated inquiry” (DMI), is proposed and experimented in a case study about work safety in the construction industry. This interpretive view requires complicating the inquiring process rather than the mirroring models of reality. In DMI, the inquiring process is complicated by establishing pluralist communities of inquiry in which different perspectives challenge each other. Finally the paper discusses the specific contribution of this approach compared with other qualitative methods and its present limits.

Keywords: Activity; Dialogism; Inquiry; Interpretation; Pragmatism; Research Methods; Semiotic Mediation; Work Safety (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: Z00 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Pages: 41 pages
Date: 2010-02
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