Rhetorical profiling: modes of meaning generation in organizational topoi

James Barker, Sarah Gilmore, Clive Gilson

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Accounting for homogenous action in seemingly apparent heterogeneous organizations is a research question that persists across prominent organizational studies literatures, and which have become more persistent and pertinent as organizations have become more global and diverse. To address how differing forms of relatively homogeneous solutions to practical problems arise from otherwise heterogeneous organizations, we develop a rhetorical framework that depicts the role of topoi, often understood as a theme or motif or literary convention, in an organization's rhetorical activity and facilitates the profiling of organizations according to how members use topoi as modes of meaning creation. We assert 10 propositions reflecting how members invent and legitimize functional meaning and demonstrate how such meaning can direct the organization toward different discursive paths.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)280-291
Number of pages12
JournalCanadian Journal of Administrative Sciences / Revue Canadienne des Sciences de l'Administration
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2013


  • organizational rhetoric
  • rhetorical framework
  • rhetorical profile
  • topoi
  • argumentation


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