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Funnel of interests: The discursive translation of organizational change

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Andrea Whittle, Professor Frank Mueller



In this article, the authors examine the role of discourse in the implementation of organizational change. They develop the concept of the "funnel of interests" to describe the process through which the perceived goals, concerns, and interests of different actors are aligned with change. To illustrate the argument, the authors analyze organizational change in a U.K. public-private partnership and show how the creative use of discourse helps to "funnel" the perceived interests of different groups and thereby facilitate the implementation of change. In particular, the authors examine the role of change agents as "translators," who use discourse to actively reconstruct and realign change as congruent with the recipient's interests. The findings suggest that change agents need to act as a mediator, interpreting and reinterpreting the change, rather than as a passive intermediary that simply diffuses a fixed set of ideas and practices, letting them pass without modification. It was through translation that the change agents in this study helped to funnel the broad range of concerns expressed by the recipients in the required direction. This study thereby opens up a new research agenda that seeks to examine how interests and interest groups are constructed through discourse, rather than viewing interests as preexisting entities that are simply expressed in discourse.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Whittle A, Suhomlinova O, Mueller F

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Journal of Applied Behavioral Science

Year: 2010

Volume: 46

Issue: 1

Pages: 16-37

Print publication date: 31/03/2010

Date deposited: 24/04/2015

ISSN (print): 0021-8863

ISSN (electronic): 1552-6879

Publisher: Sage Publications, Inc.


DOI: 10.1177/0021886309357538


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