Managerial cognitions in technological innovation processes : a study of interpretative processes
In this research, conceptualizations of the links between technological innovation and organizational change are explored and recommendations in the literature concerning such changes are reviewed and criticized. Such recommendations do not usually address the details of social interactions by which organizational changes take place. As a consequence, the issue of how these recommendations become relevant for the actors who would carry them out is not addressed. The complexity of organizational change processes highlights the role of actors' interpretations of organizational reality. Interpretations take place through the use of language in the interaction between actors. Theoretical contributions and recommendations concerning organizational changes should be seen therefore as discourses which contribute to these interpretations. They will influence the process of change only if they become relevant for organizational actors'. A method for analysing discourse in organizations is presented. It is used to identify the variety of discourses which are put forward in organizations, and to describe the structure of their distribution among actors. The structures of discourses in three companies suggest that knowledge about technological innovation processes becomes relevant to the extent that it contributes to political/discursive processes maintained by actors attempting to secure or change their role definitions. It follows that recommendations concerning planned organizational change should take into account these processes explicitly. It is therefore suggested that the analysis of discourse can be a valuable instrument for monitoring change processes. Suggestions for further research are made, concerning (i) the development of the method itself and its use in real situations (ii) the study of how discourse structures evolve over time and episodes of change.