Organisational theatre as polyphonic enterprise

ambiguity & process in health care transformation

Linda J. Matula, Richard Badham, Stefan Meisiek

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference proceeding contribution


This paper presents a longitudinal, qualitative study of the polyphonic character of an organizational theatre intervention at an Australian cancer care hospital. In agreement with fragmentationist views of organizational culture as ambiguous, multi-leveled, and contradictory in character, the paper reveals the uncertain, contested and shifting nature of the goals and outcomes of the intervention. In contrast to the claims of both supporters and critics of organizational theatre, it is argued that such goals and outcomes are complex, shifting and inherently contestable. A key component of the study is a detailing of the multiple ways in which the different stakeholders shaped and interpreted the purpose of the intervention over time. Drawing on Bakhtin's concept of polyphony, and its metaphorical transfer into organizational studies, the paper details both the multi-vocal character of the intervention and the complex and contested nature of any assessment of its role in facilitating the harmonious expression of this multi-vocality. It is argued that recognition of this phenomenon is a key requirement for a polyphonic interpretation of the nature and purpose of organizational theatre within academic research.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication2013 Academy of Management Annual Meeting proceedings
Place of PublicationUnited States
PublisherAcademy of Management (AoM)
Number of pages40
Publication statusPublished - 2013
EventAcademy of Management Annual Meeting (73rd : 2013) - Orlando, Florida
Duration: 9 Aug 201313 Aug 2013


ConferenceAcademy of Management Annual Meeting (73rd : 2013)
CityOrlando, Florida

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    Matula, L. J., Badham, R., & Meisiek, S. (2013). Organisational theatre as polyphonic enterprise: ambiguity & process in health care transformation. In 2013 Academy of Management Annual Meeting proceedings (pp. 1-40). United States: Academy of Management (AoM).