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Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://bura.brunel.ac.uk/handle/2438/3359

Title: The dichotomous unity of enterprise-strategy discourse in interviews with small-firm owner-managers
Authors: O’Rourke, Brendan K
Publication Date: 2009
Publisher: Brunel University Brunel Business School PhD Theses
Abstract: This thesis adds to the literature on strategy and enterprise discourses by analysing how they are used in interviews with small-firm owner-managers. The literature describes features of strategy and enterprise discourses and their shaping by historical developments. There is much work on the operation of these two discourses at societal and large-organisation levels. Much less researched is how these discourses are used by small-firm managers or how these discourses interact in use. This work characterises a particular discourse-analytical approach to the research interview as suitable for advancing the literature. Small, young publishing firms producing business magazines in late ‘Celtic Tiger’ Ireland are argued as an apposite context. Detailed analysis of three selected interviews illustrates the relevance of enterprise and strategy discourses in the particular ways these owner-managers talk. Drawing on the notion of ideological dilemmas, this work gives an explicit account of how strategy and enterprise discourses are used and interrelated in a manner described here as a ‘dichotomous unity’. This unity depends not only on the discourses’ commonalities but also on the dilemmatic tensions between them. These tensions allow creative and subtle uses of the unified discourse. Yet these same dilemmas also constrain the discourse within the bounds marked out by them. The persistence and creativity, noted by the literature, in the use of enterprise and strategy discourses is explained by the interpretation offered here. This work also stresses the need to research these discourses as two aspects of the same phenomenon. The interview method used reveals the wholeness of a discourse that other methods might show as fractured. Discourse analysts generally recognise that people both shape, and are shaped by discourses. By explicating how strategy and enterprise discourses operate, this work adds to human agency. Small-firm managers may become more aware of the constraints otherwise implicit in enterprise-strategy discourse. Policymakers may gain an appreciation of the discursive balance that the promotion of enterprise and strategy demands of small-business managers, along with the kind of costs such balancing might entail.
Description: This thesis was submitted for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy and awarded by Brunel University.
URI: http://bura.brunel.ac.uk/handle/2438/3359
Appears in Collections:Business and Management
Brunel Business School Theses

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