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Organizing (with) Thirdness. A Dialogic Understanding of Bicultural Interactions in Organizations


  • Fougère, Martin

    () (Swedish School of Economics and Business Administration)


This conceptual paper examines bicultural interactions in organizations as they are experienced by the involved individuals. Notions from Bakhtinian dialogism are used in order to conceptualize the sensemaking opportunities provided by the encounter with a cultural otherness. It is argued that in such bicultural situations, because of the lack of intimate understanding of the other culture, the third element in the dialogic relation - ‘thirdness’, i.e. the relation itself, without which there would be no sensemaking potential - may be lacking as a result of the distorting combination of projected similarity and stereotyping, added to certain counterproductive organizational dynamics. Therefore, it is suggested that, to make the bicultural work interaction the rewarding relation it could be, thirdness should be coordinated by management in a way that can transcend the spontaneous negative dynamics of the confrontational situation. If management was to fail to organize (with) thirdness appropriately, bringing in a third party could be a possible alternative in order to initiate the necessary mutual understanding that should eventually lead to a fruitful work interaction.

Suggested Citation

  • Fougère, Martin, 2004. "Organizing (with) Thirdness. A Dialogic Understanding of Bicultural Interactions in Organizations," Working Papers 504, Hanken School of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:hhb:hanken:0504

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Laura Arranz-Aperte & Almas Heshmati, 2004. "Determinants of Profit Sharing in the Finnish Corporate Sector," Indian Economic Review, Department of Economics, Delhi School of Economics, vol. 39(1), pages 55-79, January.
    2. John Asafu-Adjaye, 2004. "Income inequality and health: a multi-country analysis," International Journal of Social Economics, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 31(1/2), pages 195 - 207, January.
    3. Forsman, Maria & Solitander, Nikodemus, 2003. "Network Knowledge versus Cluster Knowledge- The Gordian Knot of Knowledge Transfer Concepts," Working Papers 494, Hanken School of Economics.
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    Intercultural / Bicultural Interaction; Dialogism; Thirdness; Bakhtin; Sensemaking;

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