Call for Papers: Organizational Discourse in a multimodal and/or discourse activist perspective


The international and interdisciplinary, peer-reviewed journal Communication and Language at Work (CLaW) calls for contributions.

Issue editors:

Ann Starbæk Bager, Assistant Professor in Organization and Leadership Studies, Department of Communication and Psychology, Aalborg University, Denmark

John G. McClellan, Associate Professor of Communciation, Department of Communication, Boise State University, USA

Organizational discourse studies is a varied and rich field that has provided vital insights into the communicative and discursive qualities of organizational life (Alvesson & Kärremann, 2000, 2011; Cooren, 2016; Fairclough, 2005; Fairhurst, 2008; Fairhurst & Uhl-Bien, 2012; Grant & Iedema, 2005; Iedema, 2003, 2011; Nicolini, 2009; 2016; McClellan, 2014; Robichaud & Cooren, 2013; Phillips & Oswick, 2012). Discourse approaches to organization have revealed the importance of the inter-relatedness of local practices of language use and larger systems of meaning. Specifically, discourse scholars have studied how different organizational techniques, modes and genres are power-laden and operate ideologically with consequences for local organizational practices and workplace identities.

We believe discourse studies offer important approaches for understanding the complexities of contemporary organizations and transforming everyday organizational practices. For instance, tendencies toward globalization, sustainability, technologization, politicization, dissent, and other meaning systems constitute organizational discourses that create, maintain or change local work practices and influence the ways organizational participants make sense of themselves in relation to their organizational realities. 

Within the recent years we have detected interesting shifts in approaches within discourse studies, with multimodality and discourse activism becoming more central features. The former tendency carries the potential to study multiple and varied forms of language use and discourse especially as related to embodied and material aspects of organizational life. The latter focuses on how organizational discourse scholars can assist organizational reflexivity and local change processes through generative discursive practices.

The themed issue welcomes contributions that apply a variety of discourse analytical lenses to the study of organizational phenomena related to multimodality and discourse activism perspectives. Topics may include but are not limited to:

-                           How multiple discourses/voices populate organizational reality and constitute local action, meaning making, and identities.

-                           How varied discourse approaches complicate the subject-material dualities by considering the symbolic and material qualities of organizational life and embodiment of discourse (e.g., Aschraft, Kuhn, & Cooren, 2009).

-                           How discourses travel through multiple modes across organizational contexts/spaces with ideological and practical implications such as re-semiotization and re-contextualization (e.g. Iedema, 2003b; Fairclough & Wodak, 2005).

-                           How visual and technological modes affect organizational meaning making and the interplay between diverse semiotics, materials, and the contingent character of social-organizational practices (e.g. Iedema, 2003; Fairclough, 2005; Machim, 2016; Nicolini, 2009)

-                           How organizational discourse scholars can oscillate and/or zoom-in-and-out between multiple levels of organizational discourse (e.g. Bager, 2015, 2016; Fairclough, 2004; Nicolini, 2009)

-                           How discourse scholars can assist local organizational change through participatory strategies or generative discursive practices (e.g. Grant & Iedema, 2005; Bager, 2015)

-                           How discourse perspectives might contribute to better understanding and/or engaging in the practice of organizational change (e.g., Grant, Michelson, Oswick & Wailes, 2005; McClellan, 2014).

-                           Foucauldian studies of how discursive formations, dispositifs and circuits of power permeate and shape the practices of everyday work life (e.g. Jørgensen, 2007; Moelholm, 2013; Clegg, 2013)

-                           How critical discourse studies can move beyond ideology critique towards forms of discursive engagement that engender mutually-supportive organizational practices.

-                           Methodological and ethical discussions of the above topics.

Empirical, theoretical and conceptual texts of significant originality will be considered for publication. CLaW welcomes contributions that seek to enhance our understanding of organizational behavior and communication by investigating relevant aspects from numerous approaches and disciplines.

We kindly invite you to submit original research papers. CLaW is an established (BFI 1) and peer reviewed platform for publishing research-based texts relating to the role of communication and language in organizational settings. CLaW publishes biannually. All methodological approaches are welcomed.

Important Dates:

October, 1, 2019—Paper Submission Deadline

For previous articles please visit Please get in touch with Ann Starbæk Bager ( or John G. McClellan ( for further information. We would greatly appreciate if you shared this call for papers in your networks.



Alvesson, M. & Kärreman, D. (2000). Varieties of Discourse: On the Study of Organizations through Discourse Analysis. Human Relations, 53(9), 1125-1149.

Alvesson, M. & Kärreman, D. (2011): Decolonializing discourse: Critical reflections on organizational discourse

analysis. Human relations, 64, 1121–1146.

Ashcraft, K. L., Kuhn, T. R., & Cooren, F. (2009). Constitutional amendments: “Materializing” organizational communication. In J. P. Walsh & A. P. Brief (Eds.), The Academy of Management Annals (Vol. 3, pp. 1-64). London: Routledge.

Bager, A. S. (2015): Theorising and analysing plurivocality and dialogue in organizational and leadership development practices – discussion and discourse analysis of dialogic practices in a leadership development forum. Sammenbindende bog i artikelbaseret ph.d.-afhandling, AAU.

Clegg, S. (2014). Circuits of power/knowledge. Journal of Political Power, 7(3), 383-392.

Fairclough, N. (2005). Peripheral vision: Discourse analysis in organization studies: The case for critical realism. Organization studies, 26(6), 915-939.Fairclough, N., & Wodak, R. (2005). Critical discourse analysis. Na.

Fairhurst, G. T. (2008). Discursive leadership: A communication alternative to leadership psychology. Management Communication Quarterly, 21(4), 510-521.

Fairhurst, G. T., & Uhl-Bien, M. (2012). Organizational discourse analysis (ODA): Examining leadership as a relational process. The Leadership Quarterly, 23(6), 1043-1062.

Grant, D. & Iedema, R. (2005). Discourse Analysis and the Study of Organizations. Text-Interdisciplinary Journal for the Study of Discourse, 25(1), 37–66.

Grant, D., Michelson, G., Oswick, C., & Wailes, N., (2005). Guest editorial: Discourse and organizational Change. Journal of Organizational Change Management, 18(1), 6-15.

Iedema, R. (2003a). Discourses of post-bureaucratic organization (Vol. 5). John Benjamins Publishing.

Iedema, R. (2003b). Multimodality, resemiotization: Extending the analysis of discourse as multi-semiotic practice. Visual communication, 2(1), 29-57.

Iedema, R. (2007). On the multi-modality, materially and contingency of organization discourse. Organization Studies, 28(6), 931-946.

Iedema, R. (2011). Discourse Studies in the 21st Century: A response to Mats Alvesson and Dan Kärreman’s “Decolonializing discourse.” Human Relations, 64(9), 1163–1176.

Jørgensen, K. M. (2007). Power without glory: A genealogy of a management decision. Copenhagen Business School Press DK.

Machin, D. (2016). The need for a social and affordance-driven multimodal critical discourse studies. Discourse & Society, 27(3), 322-334.

McClellan, J. G. (2014). Announcing change: Discourse, uncertainty, and organizational control. Journal of Change Management, 14(2), 192-209.

Moelholm, M. (2013). Hvad vi taler om, når vi taler om arbejdet (English: What we talk about, when we talk about work).  Aalborg University.

Robichaud, D., & Cooren, F. (Eds.). (2013). Organization and organizing: Materiality, agency, and discourse. Routledge.

Nicolini, D. (2009). Zooming in and out: studying practices by switching theoretical lenses and trailing connections. Organization Studies 30(12): 1391–1418.

Phillips, N., & Oswick, C. (2012). Organizational discourse: Domains, debates, and directions. Academy of Management Annals, 6(1), 435-481.