Since the emergence of the practice turn in social sciences (Golsorkhi et al. 2010), studies have shown a number of institutionally relevant aspects as achievements across time and by means of various resources (human and non-human) (Taylor & van Every 2000, Cooren et al. 2006). Such a process view on organizational practices relates closely to an increased focus on communication as being constitutive of the organization in general and the superior-subordinate relationship in specific. The current study aims to contribute to this line of research by investigating micro-practices involved in establishing superior-subordinate relations in a specific institutionalized setting: performance appraisal interviews (PAIs). While one main task of PAIs is to manage and integrate organizational and employee performance (Fletcher, 2001:473), PAIs are also organizational practices where superior-subordinate relations are shaped, (re)confirmed and re-evaluated. This paper pursues the better understanding of the latter aspect by looking at one substantial and recurrent activity in PAIs: the evaluation of employee performance. One resource for doing the evaluation work is making assessments (e.g. Goodwin & Goodwin, 1987), and our analysis focuses on the participants' verbal and bodily co-orientation in assessment sequences (e.g. Mondada, 2009) collected from the video-recorded data of approximately 30 hours of PAIs including various superiors and subordinates. With the method of conversation analysis, we show the participants’ different orientations to “standardized” and “non-standardized” assessments (Maynard, 2003). In our data, “non-standardized” assessments are frequently oriented to as doing the work of "real" evaluations, whereas “standardized” assessments are oriented to as topic closure implicative. Accordingly, subordinates often pursue non-standardized assessments from their superiors, while superiors use standardized assessments for balancing the task of filing relevant information and that of assessing work. With these findings, we argue that PAIs are a crucial communicative place for constituting superior-subordinate relations and thus for organizing an institution. References Fletcher, C. (2001). Performance appraisal and management: The developing research agenda. Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, 74:473-487. Cooren, F., Taylor, J.R., & Van Every, E.J. (Eds.) (2006). Communication as organizing: Empirical and Theoretical Explorations in the dynamic of text and conversation. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. Goodwin, C. & Goodwin, M. H. (1987). Concurrent operations on talk: Notes on the interactive organization of assessments. Pragmatics, 1:1–54. Golsorkhi, D.; Rouleau, L.; Seidl, D.; Vaara, E. (Eds) (2010): Cambridge Handbook of Strategy as Practice. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Maynard, D. (2003). Bad news, good news: Conversational order in everyday talk and clinical settings. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press. Mondada, L. (2009) ‘The embodied and negotiated production of assessments in instructed actions’, Research on Language & Social Interaction, 42(4):329–361. Taylor, J.R., & Van Every, E.J. (2000). The emergent organization: communication as its site and surface. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.
Main Research Area:
Interpersonal Communication and Social Interaction, 2013