Analysing discourse practices in organisations

Rick Iedema, Pieter Degeling, Leslie White, Jeffrey Braithwaite

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper addresses the issues that arise when ethnographic discourseanalysis is used to describe and analyse hospital interaction among medicaland non-medical staff in a metropolitan hospital, and when research analysesare reintroduced into the workplace environment. The paper considers thechallenges that result from doing intervention-oriented research. The researchinvolves analyses of discourse and talk and a related set of theoretical tools,including transcripts of talk used as data and as evidence in formal accounts,and ethnographic and discourse-analytical claims about hospital interaction thatare to be shared with staff for the purpose of communication intervention and workplace change. The paper addresses the salient criticisms that were levelled at our research by senior clinician-managers of the hospital, and reasons about the divergences between sociological (ethnographic-discourse analytic) and medical–practical understandings of research method and of hospital work.Finally, the paper attempts to reposition both our own social-scientific account and clinical staff’s understandings of their work in relation to one another, in the interest of a continued dialogue. Such repositioning is central, we suggest,to maintaining not only the validity of our research but also the momentum of clinicians, and especially doctors, in their move towards hospital reform.Discourse research, we argue, is a unique device for engendering reflexivity on the part of researchers and the researched.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5-25
Number of pages21
JournalQualitative Research Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2004
Externally publishedYes


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