Date of Award

5-1-2012

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

Speech Communication

First Advisor

Bardhan, Nilanjana

Abstract

This dissertation is a qualitative discourse analysis study. The study seeks to understand roles of organizational discourse and management discourse in stimulating strategic organizational change, and facilitating organizational culture dynamics and identity development. Specifically, this study examines how The Haier Group Company has constructed, disseminated and entrenched its corporate public discourse (CPD) as a symbolic and rhetorical means for stimulating organizational change in the context of global challenges. Theoretical positions guiding this study are: globalization, the nexus of the global and local, glocalization, transculturation and hybridity, as well as organizational communication, organizational discourse study, organizational discourse analysis, and corporate public discourse. Methodologically, to better reveal the impact of globalization on organizational communication in a primarily non-Western context, this study adopts an interpretive-oriented approach, and adds a critical element from the language- ideology-power perspective. The data for this study is composed of a multiplicity of corporate public discourses (including print, online, audio-visual forms of texts, and artifacts) primarily produced by Haier between 1984 and 2004. In analyzing Haier's main CPD, this study examines how Haier has strategically constructed, disseminated, and entrenched the organization's culture, ideology, identity, and brand building. It also analyzes and demonstrates how Haier has, discursively and strategically, cultivated an organizational environment that fostered strategic organizational change. As the data set is diverse and large, the textual analysis and discussion depends on a combined use of organizational rhetorical analysis and storytelling analysis. To conclude, broadly, this study of Haier's corporate public discourse demonstrates China's current position within the historical phenomenon of globalization. More specifically, it shows that through constructing and communicating a specific organizational discourse about globalization and Haier's place in it, the Haier CEO and management is creating a reality that is challenging the dominant West- and U.S.-centric interpretations of globalization. This discourse challenges the notion that globalization is a new phenomenon, and that certain established and powerful global economic players will forever remain in positions of dominance. It frames globalization as a fluid phenomenon involving cultural fusion. This study is significant in at least two aspects. First, it demonstrates the impact of global mobility and interconnectivity upon a non-Western business corporation's communication strategies thereby adding to the scant numbers of empirical studies on this topic. Also, it differs from the extant studies on Haier, which are primarily case studies conducted by MBA scholars and practitioners of business and management, and provided an intercultural and organizational communication perspective. Second, this study demonstrates the utility of specific globalization concepts such as the global-local dialectic, glocalization, as well as some international/intercultural concepts such as transculturation and hybridity in studying organizational communication in a transnational context. One contribution of this study is its "insider" Chinese view of how Confucianism has shaped organizational communication practices in P. R. China. Another contribution is the "insider-outsider" perspective adopted in examining Haier's strategic communication about organizational change in an age of globalization. This `straddling' position is helpful in achieving an interpretive understanding of the impact of globalization upon organizational communication as it is situated in a mainly non-Western context.

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