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Team decision making in the workplace: A systematic review of discourse analytic studies

Issue: Vol 1 No. 1 (2013) Virtual Issue (2013): Doctoral Research at the interface of Applied Linguistics and Professional Practice

Journal: Journal of Applied Linguistics and Professional Practice

Subject Areas: Writing and Composition Linguistics

DOI: 10.1558/japl.v1.i1.17289


Modern work life is increasingly characterized by a shift from the traditional, hierarchical organization to more collaborative forms, often referred to as ‘the post-bureaucratic organization’. Within this setting, team decision making is becoming a crucial activity for managing the complex and multiprofessional processes at play. The study of organizational decision making has had a long tradition in the social sciences, but largely without attending to the micro-analytic level of organizational interaction. This article provides a systematic review of discourse analytic studies on team decision making in professional settings such as healthcare, social work, education and business. The procedures used for identifying eligible studies included online database searches such as JSTOR, ISI Web of Science, ERIC, MEDLINE, PsycINFO, as well as searches in reference lists in scientific papers and books on discourse and decision making. Findings show that there are few discourse studies that explicitly deal with team decision making and that these are located empirically in different professional domains. A majority of the studies use ethnographic insights to supplement their analyses, but without analysing discourse outside the context of the meeting. The discussion will focus on discourse strategies related to assessing information, reaching agreement, managing disagreement, as well as how organizational hierarchies influence the use and effect of these strategies.

Author: Kristin Halvorsen

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