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Consistency and inconsistency in organizations

Edwards, Lee ORCID: 0000-0001-6542-1234 (2017) Consistency and inconsistency in organizations. Management Communication Quarterly, 31 (3). pp. 486-491. ISSN 0893-3189

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Identification Number: 10.1177/0893318917700295


Much existing scholarship positions consistency and inconsistency as mutually exclusive opposites. Indeed, common-sense seems to imply that consistency and inconsistency are mutually exclusive: The words themselves are set in opposition to each other. However, this oppositional approach may lead us to neglect the fact that their existence must be understood in relational terms—that is, in terms that recognize the coexistence of consistency and inconsistency in discourse and practice, their connection to each other, and the power dynamics that characterize their interactions. For example, consistent communication, when deployed as a strategy to cope with complexity, might be interpreted as a reaction to inconsistent communication, a tool to combat inconsistent practices, or a unifying narrative designed to maintain stability in the face of uncertain environmental conditions (see, for example, Cornelissen, 2014). Inconsistent communication, on the contrary, may be understood as a contestation of “consistent” but inaccurate messages, as resistance to marginalization, or as an assertion of difference and complexity (see, for example, Christensen, Morsing, & Cheney, 2008). In this essay, I adopt a dialectical approach to analyze the connections between consistency and inconsistency in organizational communication, and thereby highlight the ways relational thinking might prompt new research directions.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2017 Sage Publications
Divisions: Media and Communications
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor > HD28 Management. Industrial Management
Date Deposited: 07 Nov 2017 10:18
Last Modified: 16 May 2024 02:35

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