When fiction Trumps truth: what ‘post-truth’ and ‘alternative facts’ mean for management studies

Eric Knight, Haridimos Tsoukas*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Citations (Scopus)


In this essay, we explore the notions of ‘post-truth’ and ‘alternative facts’ for management studies. Adopting a pragmatist perspective, we argue that there is no intrinsically accurate language in terms of which to refer to reality. Language, rather, is a tool that enables agents to grab hold of causal forces and intervene in the world. ‘Alternative facts’ can be created by multimodal communication to highlight different aspects of the world for the purpose of political mobilization and legitimacy. ‘Post-truth’ politics reveals the fragmentation of the language game in which mainstream politics has been hitherto conducted. Using the communicative acts of businessman-turned-politician President Trump and his aides, as a prompt, we explore the implications that ‘alternative facts’ and ‘post-truth’ have for today’s management scholarship. We argue that management scholars should unpack how managers navigate strategic action and communication, and how the creation of alternative realities is accomplished in conditions of informational abundance and multimodal communication.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)183-197
Number of pages15
JournalOrganization Studies
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • communication
  • justification
  • late modernity
  • post-truth
  • pragmatism


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