ICESBA - Submit a paper, International Conference on Economic Sciences and Business Administration

Font Size: 
Discourses of leadership change or changes of leadership discourse?
Cornelia Ilie

Last modified: 2017-10-31



The present study examines the interrelatedness between organisational change and leadership-enacted discourses, by focusing on two telecommunication companies, Nokia and Ericsson. In both cases, there is a continuous and deliberate search for a way to revolutionise the concept of IT through the development of competitive, highly performing leadership and organisational teams, motivated through strongly articulated commitment discourses. Drawing on presentations and mission statements of CEOs of two Nordic multi-national companies, Nokia (Finland) and Ericsson (Sweden), a comparative analysis of the challenges of enacting participative leadership is carried out from a discourse-analytical and pragma-rhetorical perspective.



discourse, leadership, change, organisation, CEO, Nokia, Ericsson




Amernic, Joel & Craig, Russell. 2006. CEO-speak: The language of corporate leadership. Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press.

Amernic, Joel, Craig, Russell & Tourish, Dennis. 2010. Measuring and assessing tone at the top using annual report CEO letters. Edinburgh, CA House: The Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland.

Argenti, Paul A. & Forman, Janis. 2004. The power of corporate communication: Crafting the voice and image of your business. New York: McGraw Hill.

Austin, John Langshaw. 1962. How to do things with words. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Bass, Bernard M. 1985. Leadership and performance beyond expectations. New York: The Free Press.

Bass, Bernard M. 1990. From transactional to transformational leadership: Learning to share the vision. Organizational Dynamics, 18(3), 19-31.

Beerel, Annabel. 2009. Leadership & change management. London: Sage.

Berger, Peter L. and Luckmann, Thomas. 1966. The social construction of reality. Garden City, NY: Anchor Books.

Blau, John. 2003. At Nokia temperament is a core competence (corporate strategy). Research Technology Management 46(4): 6.

Carroll, Brigid, Levy, Lester & Richmond, David. 2008. Leadership as practice: Challenging the competency paradigm. Leadership 4(4): 363-379.

Conaway, Roger N. & Wardrope, William J. 2010. Do their words really matter? Thematic analysis                of U.S. and Latin American CEO letters. Journal of Business Communication, 47, 141-168.

Czarniawska-Joerges, Barbara. 1993. Sweden: A modern project, a postmodern implementation. In: David J. Hickson (ed.), Management in Western Europe: Society, culture and organization in twelve nations, 229-247. Walter de Gruyter. (de Gruyter Studies in Organization).

Clifton, Jonathan. 2012. A discursive approach to leadership doing assessments and                  managing organizational meanings. Journal of Business Communication 49(2),                       148-168.

Edström, Anders, and Jönsson, Sten. 1998. Svenskt ledarskap. In Czarniawska, B. (ed.) Organisationsteori på svenska. Malmö: Liber.

Ekwall, Anita & Karlsson, Svenolof. 1999. Mötet – en bok om kulturella skillnader och ledarskap. Svenskt och finskt. Vasa: Storkamp Media.

Emirbayer, Mustafa & Mische, Ann. 1998. What is agency? The American Journal of Sociology, 103(4): 962-1023.

Eriksson-Zetterquist, Ulla, Müllern, Tomas & Styhre, Alexander. 2011. Organisation theory: A practice based approach. Oxford & New York: Oxford University Press.

Fairhurst, Gail. & Connaughton, Stacey L. 2014. Leadership: A communicative perspective. Leadership, 10(1): 7-35.

Fairhurst, Gail T. and Putnam, Linda. 2004. Organizations as discursive constructions. Communication Theory 14(1): 5-26.

Harvey, Arlene. 2004. Charismatic business leader rhetoric: From transaction to transformation. In Lynne Young & Claire Harrison (eds.) Systemic functional linguistics and critical discourse analysis: Studies in social change, 247-263. London and New York: Continuum.

Hayward, Jack E.S. (ed). 1995. Industrial enterprise and European integration: From national to international champions in Western Europe. Oxford University Press, New York.

Hendriks, Berna & van Mulken, Margot. 2011. The language of power. An analysis of a corpus of CEO letters. In Pelsmakers, Katja et al. (eds.) Displaying competence in organizations: Discourse perspectives, 45-59. Houndgrave: Palgrave MacMillan.

Heracleous, Loizos and Marshak, Robert J. 2004. Conceptualizing organizational discourse as situated symbolic action. Human Relations 57: 1285-1312.

Hill, Charles W. L. & Jones, Thomas M. 1992. Stakeholder-agency theory. Journal of Management Studies 29(2): 131–154.

Holmberg, Ingalill & Åkerblom, Staffan. 2006. Modelling leadership - Implicit Leadership Theories in Sweden. Scandinavian Journal of Management 22: 307-329.

Holmberg, Ingalill and Åkerblom, Staffan. 2007. Primus inter pares: Leadership and Culture in Sweden. In Chokar, Jagdeep S., Brodbeck, Felix C., & House, Robert J. (eds.) Culture and leadership across the world: The GLOBE book of in-depth studies of 25 societies. Mahwah, New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates Inc.

Huang, Yan. 2014. Pragmatics (2nd ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Hyland, Ken. 1998. Exploring corporate rhetoric: metadiscourse in the CEO’s letter.

Journal of Business Communication 35 (2): 224-245.

Ilie, Cornelia. 2007. British ‘consensus’ versus Swedish ‘samförstånd’ in parliamentary debates. In Giuliana Garzone and Cornelia Ilie (eds.) The use of English in institutional and business settings: An intercultural perspective, 101-125. Bern: Peter Lang.

Leech, Geoffrey. 1983. Principles of pragmatics. London: Longman.

Lindén, Carl-Gustav. 2012. National champions in combat: Nokia, Ericsson and the sensemaking of business news. PhD thesis, University of Helsinki.

Karlsson, Svenolof & Lugn, Anders. 2009. Changing the world. The story of Lars Magnus Ericsson and his successors. Stockholm: Sellin & Partner.

Kets de Vries, Manfred F. R. 2001. The leadership mystique: A user’s manual for the human enterprise. London: Pearson Education Limited.

Kohut, Gary F., & Segars, Albert H. 1992. The president’s letter to stockholders: An examination of corporate communication strategy. The Journal of Business Communication 29 (1): 7-21.

Kotter, John P. 1988. The leadership factor. New York: Free Press.

Kotter, John P. 1996. Leading change. Boston: Harvard Business School Press.

Lämsä, Tuija. 2010. Leadership styles and decision-making in Finnish and Swedish organizations. Review of International Comparative Management 11(1): 139-149.

Luhtakallio, Eeva. 2010. Local politicizations: A comparison of Finns and French practicing

Democracy. University of Helsinki, Helsinki.

Müllern, Ulla & Elofsson, Annelie. 2006. Den karismatiska chefen: en bok om att utveckla det egna ledarskapet. Lund: Studentlitteratur.

Niitamo, Veli-Pekka. 2006. Building scenarios for a globally distributed corporation In J. H. Erik Andriessen & Matti Vartiainen (eds.) Mobile Virtual Work. A New Paradigm?, 253-265. Berlin – Heidelberg: Springer.

Phillips, Nelson, & Hardy, Cynthia. 2002. Discourse analysis: Investigating processes of social construction. Thousand Oaks, California: Sage.

Putnam, Linda L. & Fairhurst, Gail T. 2001. Discourse analysis in organizations: issues and concerns. In Fredric M. Jablin & Linda L. Putnam (eds.), The new handbook of organizational communication: Advances in theory, research, and methods: 78-136. London: Sage.

Raelin, Joseph A. (ed.). 2016a. Leadership-as-practice: Theory and application. New York and London: Routledge.

Raelin, Joseph A. 2016b. It’s not about leaders: It’s about the practice of leadership. Organizational Dynamics 45: 124-131.

Searle, John R. 1969. Speech acts: An essay in the philosophy of language. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

Searle, John R. 1975. Indirect speech acts. In Peter Cole & Jerry L. Morgan (eds), Syntax and semantics 3: Speech acts, 59–82. New York: Academic Press.

Searle, John R. 1995. The construction of social reality. New York: Simon and Schuster.

Smith, Peter B., Andersen, Jon Aarum, Ekelund, Bjørn, Graversen, Gert & Ropo, Arja. 2003. In search of Nordic management styles. Scandinavian Journal of Management 19: 491-507.

Thomas, Jane. 1997. Discourse in the marketplace: The making of meaning in annual reports. International Journal of Business Communication 34(1): 47-66.

Thomas, Jenny. 1983. Cross-cultural pragmatic failure. Applied Linguistics 4: 91-112.

Tyrstrup, Mats. 2005. Sovereigns of time: A Scandinavian view of executive work, time and leadership. Lund: Studentlitteratur.

Wodak, Ruth. 1996. Disorders of discourse. London: Longman.