Responsiveness and Communication



Conceiving of organizations as coalitions of interests (Cyert & March, 1992), policy making is at the core of organizational processes of decision-making. The means of moderating organizational conflicts are political arenas that allow for the different coalitions to voice and support their concerns and interests. The plural interests of stakeholders emerge from and are embedded in specific lifeworlds and language games of participants that exist ‘within and around’ the organization, i.e. subcultures within an organization (e.g. a department, a subunit) as well as social configurations in the private life of stakeholders. Participants of an organization, i.e. its members and stakeholders, will develop individual or group interests that represent their goals for the organization. The goals of the organization, however, are defined in formal or informal conversational arenas (Kirsch, 1991). Drawing from Habermas (1984,1987), lifeworlds are defined as areas of social interaction that are enacted and constituted by language games, i.e. rules of behavior and language that are learned and developed by participants of these contexts. These rules provide a ‘grammar’ of the specific lifeworld and provide a framework for cognition and sensemaking. Consequently, members of different lifeworlds will have difficulties to communicate easily. The agony of translation is a strong indication of incommensurability: “Members of a community of context will have less difficulties to communicate with and among each other than they have when communicating with externals.” (Kirsch, 1991:120–121; my translation).


Mental Model Communicative Action Strategic Action Language Game External Reality 
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© Deutscher Universitäts-Verlag/GWV Fachverlage GmbH, Wiesbaden 2003

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