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The dynamics of irony in organizational change: coping with a school merger

Wallace, Mike ORCID: and Hoyle, Eric 2012. The dynamics of irony in organizational change: coping with a school merger. Public Administration 90 (4) , pp. 974-999. 10.1111/j.1467-9299.2012.02038.x

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The potential of an ironic perspective for understanding public service change is portrayed through a re-analysis of data on a merger between two English primary sector schools, an extreme change involving organizational termination alongside phoenix-like emergence. The ironic perspective focuses on synchronic dissonance and diachronic divergence in meaning underlying verbal and situational forms of irony respectively, endemic sources of organizational ambiguity, its exacerbation by change which creates conditions favouring irony, and the dynamics of their relationship. The case illustrates how ironic consequences flowed iteratively from diverse sources of ambiguity for those managing the merger, often recursively generating further irony. It is suggested that an ironic perspective can deepen theoretical understanding of the relative unmanageability of public service change, within structural parameters delimiting its scope. This perspective also offers a generic heuristic for organizational analysis with potential to inform efforts to cope with ambiguity and consequent irony in the change process.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Business (Including Economics)
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor > HD28 Management. Industrial Management
Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell
ISSN: 0033-3298
Funders: ESRC
Last Modified: 21 Oct 2022 10:19

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