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In this chapter we ask the question: How is the social use of management ideas in organisational contexts related to the relative power positions of individual audience members? Based on interviews with management practitioners who have attended management guru lectures, the chapter sheds essential light on how and why different audience members may actively use management ideas in an organisational context as the ‘natural setting’ of idea consumption. First, we offer a broader view on the nature of agency that plays a role shaping the organisational use and ultimate impact of management ideas by revealing how the interpersonal use of management ideas involves three different forms of resource-related power (influence, force and domination). Second, rather than considering agency in the organisational use of management ideas mainly in terms of such a top-down direction, our analysis suggests the importance of accounting for multiple directions as audience members’ accounts reveal how the forms of power are deployed and reconstituted in relational interactions of a downward, lateral or upward fashion.
This chapter develops a critique on the current approaches to studying the impact of management ideas. We found that, in the light of the broader flow of management ideas, the extant streams of literature on diffusion and implementation both apply relatively narrow scopes with respect to the local-extra-local relationships involved in the adoption decision, and have each paid limited attention to the agentic meaning making related to the adoption dynamics. In other words, prior work on the impact of management ideas has considered only parts of the broader flow of these ideas, leaving critical aspects concerning scope and agency under-conceptualised. In response to these challenges, we posit that studying management practitioners as audience members is necessary to deepen our understanding of the complexities concerning their impact on management and organisational practice and beyond. After all, managerial audiences are likely to play a critical role in how ideas flow between different contexts, and, given the omnipresence of the current business media as well as management education, being an audience member is an essential part of the contemporary managerial role.
In this chapter we explore possible volatility in audience orientations in more depth by asking: How and why do audience members’ consumption orientations shift throughout the communication process? Drawing on interview data with management practitioners who have attended management guru lectures, we stress the need for a more dynamic understanding of audience responses that can account for the individual-level variability in consumption orientations. First, by showing how individual audience members’ orientations are not necessarily limited to a single category and cannot be considered a permanent state, our findings seek to move beyond conceptions of managers’ attitudes towards management gurus and their ideas as relatively static. In particular, we identify three forms of shifts (involvement-induced, utility-induced and alternating) in managerial audience members’ consumption orientation amongst individual audience members that may occur during the communication process. Second, we explain how these shifts are related to the individual audience members’ expectations and broader management knowledge consumption pattern.
This chapter discusses a number of broad and influential perspectives to studying audiences, explains differences and similarities in background as well as explores their main possibilities in understanding the flow of management ideas. In particular, we consider: (1) research in the field of conversation analysis which is concerned with understanding the way lectures and speeches may influence and transform audiences and in turn, how audience responses may affect speakers’ oratorical performances; (2) the ‘uses and gratification’ approach to studying media audiences which focuses primarily on the reasons and motivations for selecting specific media options and the way various audience activities relate to the nature of audience orientations; (3) more critical traditions of media research focusing on how audience members’ interpretations of media messages relate to their social backgrounds and (4) literature on fans and fandom which provides an important lens to advance understanding of how and to what extent audience members take the ideas beyond a mass communication setting and may even become producers themselves.
This chapter asks: How do the rhetorical practices and persuasive strategies deployed by gurus potentially enhance receptivity towards their management ideas? Drawing on detailed analyses of video recordings of real-time management guru-audience interaction, the chapter describes how management gurus manage the delicate task of presenting ideas that many, if not all, of the members of their audiences do not use. On the one hand, gurus endeavour to create and maintain a positive atmosphere in the auditorium by providing audience members with opportunities to laugh collectively and engage in displays of group cohesiveness without having to unequivocally display agreement with their management ideas. In this way gurus are able to generate a positive atmosphere during their lectures regardless of the extent to which audience members agree or disagree with their ideas. On the other hand, gurus also routinely seek to minimise the likelihood of a negative atmosphere emerging when they convey ideas that are likely to be at odds with the management practices used by many audience members. The gurus do this by avoiding directly confronting or criticising their audiences.
In this chapter we ask: How and why do audience members become involved in using management ideas in their wider social contexts? Based on interviews with management practitioners who have attended management guru lectures, the findings presented in this chapter contribute to developing a broader understanding of significant, but relatively unexplored, areas of potential impact related to the social use of these ideas. First, by identifying three main forms of fan involvement associated with the use of management ideas which primarily occur outside an organisation (exaltation, socialisation and marketisation), the findings advance our view on the potential scope and primary aims of management idea use beyond organisational implementation. Second, we show how these forms vary significantly in their main drivers which are rooted in audience members’ differential skills sets and relevant communities – outside the setting of an organisation – they relate to. In addition, we show how these skills are made productive via different identificatory and commodificatory practices, and explain how these have specific implications for the broader impact of ideas.
In this chapter we ask: How and why do audience members vary in the way they are attracted to a guru and the management ideas they are promoting? Using analyses of interviews with management practitioners who have attended guru lectures, the chapter indicates how a broader and more fine-grained understanding of consumption activity is essential in providing a more advanced view of audience differentiation and helps to better understand the success and impact of management ideas among a managerial audience. First, our analysis reveals four different key managerial audience members’ consumption orientations – the gratifications that individual member seek – (devoted, engaged, non-committal and critical) towards gurus and the management ideas they are promoting. Second, the findings show how audience members’ orientations are constructed in relation to their perceptions of different key audience activities (selectivity, involvement and utility) at different stages of the consumption process. Third, the chapter explains how, and to what extent, the use of these orientations relates to the design of the guru lecture and the audience members’ background characteristics.
In this chapter we not only challenge the current views of the nature of contemporary managerial work – to one that includes a conceptualisation of management practitioners as audience members both within and beyond mass communication settings, but also contribute to bridging and extending the currently disconnected approaches to studying the impact of ideas. On the basis of these findings, the book argues that current approaches to studying the impact of management ideas need a much deeper and broader view by further integrating important aspects of flow concerning scope and agentic meaning making particularly in relation to (A) the dynamics of managerial audience activities, (B) the protracted involvement of managerial audiences, (C) the managerial audience members’ social uses of ideas and (D) the managerial audience members’ textual productivity.
In this chapter we ask: How do gurus present their ideas as being generally applicable, significant and potentially relevant to individual audience members? The chapter shows how management gurus use stories about change to communicate the successful application and adaptability of their ideas, to construct an ambiguity that allows scope for managerial audience members to tailor the ideas to different contexts. Regardless of whether these stories are framed as epiphanic or non-epiphanic, they exhibit three common practices. First, the stories exemplify the gurus’ ideas by focusing on a particular case and on singular themes, making them more easily apprehensible and enabling the audience to collectively concentrate on a narrow set of events. Second, the stories are told in an engaging and entertaining manner, which heightens audience attentiveness and thereby makes the stories more memorable. Third, following the stories, gurus move from the particular to the general in order to demonstrate the applicability of the ideas exemplified by the stories to a wide range of contexts. This generally coincides with, and is marked by, a shift to a serious (or more serious) footing.
The widespread promotion of management ideas, their regular inclusion in textbooks and business school curricula and their use in organizational change programs has engendered debates about the impact of these ideas on management and organizational practice. Based on analyses of managerial audience members' activities and related meaning-making prior to, during and after guru events with leading management thinkers, this book sheds new light on how management practitioners come to use management ideas in the different relevant contexts of their working lives. The authors argue that a broader, more differentiated and more dynamic view of managerial audiences is essential in understanding the impact of management ideas as well as the nature of contemporary managerial work. For scholars and students in organisation studies, knowledge management and management consultancy, as well as reflective management practitioners.
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