Seminar with Tim Kuhn - Managing Anxieties and Performing Competencies
Associate professor Timothy Kuhn will present his paper “Managing Anxieties and Performing Competencies: Communicatively Constituting Authority in a Growing Airline”:
The management literature typically enjoins organizations to develop distinctive competencies, promising that developing those competencies will create competitive advantage. In firms marketing customer experiences, however, those competencies are tenuous and ambiguous—and the management literature is incapable of explaining the organizing processes that unfold. In response, this study turns to literature portraying communication as constitutive of organization (CCO). In a longitudinal and qualitative examination of a major U.S. airline’s efforts to develop its competency around high-quality customer service, the move to communication-centric theorizing enables a richer investigation of authority and unintended consequences. Specifically, by tracing the contours of the firm’s authoritative text and connecting the content of that text with challenges to, and consequences for, ongoing practice, the study both challenges the management literature’s claims about competitive advantage and provides unique insight into the constitutive interdependence between authority and anxiety in organizing. In so doing, the study aids the organizational communication field’s capacity to speak to management literature while also addressing tensions, contradictions, and struggles over meaning in organizing practice.