Performative Silences: Potentiality of Organizational Change

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


The article highlights the importance of silence in the processes of change in organizations, and the claim is that silence distributes authority, responsibility and decision-making processes. It thus adds to existing organization literature applying a performative approach that silence is neither static nor neutral. It has performative effects. Silencing as an act, rather than a noun, is conceptualised as a central ‘configurating actor’ of change. Through the description of minute details from a videotaped supervision session in the mental healthcare sector, it is shown how different performative configurations of silence makes people relate to each other in new ways and influence new work practices. In spite of its somewhat immaterial connotations, using an Actor-Network Theory approach to organization studies, silencing is conceptualised as both a means and an effect of change efforts, which are socio-materially based.
Translated title of the contributionstilhedens multiplicitet: potentialer for organisatorisk forandring
Original languageEnglish
JournalOrganization Studies
Issue number5
Pages (from-to)681-703
Number of pages39
Publication statusPublished - May 2019


  • silence
  • Health care
  • organizational change
  • STS
  • ethnography
  • politics
  • actor network theory
  • Performativity

Cite this