Beneath the radar: a critical realist analysis of ‘the knowledge economy’ and ‘shareholder value’ as competing discourses

Paul Thompson, B. Harley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

28 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

This paper seeks to apply a critical realist lens to the analysis of discourse. Our central argument is that the most fruitful way to make sense of discourse is to treat it as an empirical object of inquiry alongside extra-discursive phenomena. In making this argument, we consider two recent discourses, the ‘knowledge-based economy’ (KBE) and ‘shareholder value’ (SV) and demonstrate that while the KBE discourse gained much more attention, SV discourse had much more significant material outcomes. We suggest that research on the potential causal powers of discourse should move away from an exclusive focus on the discursive and pay attention to actors and institutions and to extra-discursive conditions and constraints.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1363-1381
Number of pages19
JournalOrganization Studies
Volume33
Issue number10
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2012

Keywords

  • critical realism
  • discourse analysis
  • financialization

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