From administrator to CEO: Exploring changing representations of hierarchy and prestige in a diachronic corpus of academic management writing

Gerlinde Mautner, Mark Learmonth

Publication: Scientific journalJournal articlepeer-review

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We explore the lexical choices made by authors published in Administrative Science Quarterly (ASQ), a major academic journal in business and management studies. We do so via a corpus constructed from all the articles published in ASQ from its first publication in 1956 up until the end of 2018. Specifically, our focus is on lexical items that represent social actors. Our findings suggest that, compared with earlier work, recent articles typically ascribe greater status and prestige to organizational elites. Relatively contemporary papers are also more likely to use language that obfuscates or ignores unpalatable aspects of organizational life, such as power asymmetries, hierarchy and control through identity regulation. We suggest that these changes in word choices can be understood to reflect a wider trend towards neo-liberal rhetoric – a rhetoric increasingly pervading contemporary social life more generally.
Original languageEnglish
JournalDiscourse & Communication
Publication statusPublished - 2020

Austrian Classification of Fields of Science and Technology (ÖFOS)

  • 602004 General linguistics
  • 602008 English studies

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