In the wake of new media: Connecting the who with the how of strategizing communication

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In this article we argue that despite the intensive exploration of how organizations strategize within the field of strategic communication, there seems to be a key component missing, namely questioning not only how organizations communicate strategically, but also who these organizations are. As such, strategic communication implicitly, perhaps even unintentionally, continues to rely on a classical understanding of organizations as “social units (or human groupings) deliberately constructed and reconstructed to seek specific goals” (Etzioni, 1964, p. 3), as visible in for instance Hallahan et al.’s definition of strategic communication as “the purposeful use of communication by an organization to fulfill its mission” (2007, p. 3). Assuming rather than exploring who the organization is, we argue, hinders a full exploration of how strategy works. Aiming to tackle this issue, we will first present four ways in which the classical understanding of organizations as distinct and distinguishable phenomena is challenged, arguing that organizations should no longer be understood as stable entities. Rather they are (1) networked, (2) socio-material, and (3) contingent processes of (4) meaning formation. Then we examine how the reconceptualization of the organization influences the concept of strategic communication, advocating that strategies should be seen as collaborative and networked flows (the how) of shared decision-making by both human and non-human actors (the who). Finally, we discuss how this affects the notion of strategic action, asking what strategic action is and who performs it in the wake of the death of the autonomous and rational organizational actor.
TidsskriftInternational Journal of Strategic Communication
Udgave nummer4
Sider (fra-til)223-237
StatusUdgivet - 2016

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