Strategic ambiguity as a rhetorical resource for enabling multiple interests

J.A.A. Sillince, P. Jarzabkowski, D. Shaw

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    61 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    The literature on ambiguity reflects contradictory views on its value as a resource or a problem for organizational action. In this longitudinal empirical study of ambiguity about a strategic goal,we examined how strategic ambiguity is used as a discursive resource by different organizational constituents and how that is associated with collective action around the strategic goal.We found four rhetorical positions, each of which drew upon strategic ambiguity to construct the strategic goal differently according to whether the various constituents were asserting their own interests or accommodating wider organizational interests. However, we also found that the different constituents maintained these four rhetorical positions simultaneously over time enabling them to shift between their own and other's interests rather than converging upon a common interest. These findings are used to develop a conceptual framework that explains how strategic ambiguity might serve as a resource for different organizational constituents to assert their own interests whilst also enabling collective organizational action, at least of a temporary nature.
    LanguageEnglish
    Pages249-279
    Number of pages30
    JournalHuman Relations
    Volume83
    Issue number2
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2010

    Fingerprint

    resources
    collective behavior
    Strategic Ambiguity
    Rhetoric
    Resources
    Constituent
    Values
    Strategic goals
    time
    literature
    Collective Action
    Conceptual Framework
    Empirical Study
    Contradictory
    Discursive
    Collective action
    Empirical study
    Conceptual framework

    Keywords

    • academic careers
    • change
    • collective action
    • context
    • organizational culture
    • organizational theory

    Cite this

    Sillince, J.A.A. ; Jarzabkowski, P. ; Shaw, D. / Strategic ambiguity as a rhetorical resource for enabling multiple interests. In: Human Relations. 2010 ; Vol. 83, No. 2. pp. 249-279.
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    Strategic ambiguity as a rhetorical resource for enabling multiple interests. / Sillince, J.A.A.; Jarzabkowski, P.; Shaw, D.

    In: Human Relations, Vol. 83, No. 2, 2010, p. 249-279.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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