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Saying what you do and doing what you say: The performative dynamics of lean management theory


  • Viviane Sergi

    () (ESG UQAM MontrŽal, Canada)

  • Maria Lusiani

    () (Dept. of Management, Università Ca' Foscari Venice)

  • Ann Langley

    () (HEC MontrŽal MontrŽal, Canada)

  • Jean-Louis Denis

    () (ENAP MontrŽal, Canada)


Why are certain theories able to impose themselves and influence organizational practices in a significant way? Rooted at the intersection of inquiries into management fashions and into performativity, we investigate the case of the QuŽbec public health care system, where a managerial theory Ð that of Òlean managementÓ Ð has recently emerged, gained saliency and become dominant in organizational practice. Adopting a longitudinal and multi-level research approach, we focus more precisely on the conditions that allow performativity to occur and increase, considering how this process unfolds over time. We therefore study the processes and the conditions through which lean management theory imposed itself, both in the global health care system and in two distinct health care organizations and the processes and the conditions through which this theory, while imposing itself, constructs a reality for these organizations, eventually reinforcing the theory itself. By unveiling the action of three performative dynamics in this particular case, our study provides a reflection on the catalysts and inhibitors of performativity, that goes beyond the specific case and that could be relevant to researchers interested by performativity.

Suggested Citation

  • Viviane Sergi & Maria Lusiani & Ann Langley & Jean-Louis Denis, 2013. "Saying what you do and doing what you say: The performative dynamics of lean management theory," Working Papers 35, Department of Management, Università Ca' Foscari Venezia.
  • Handle: RePEc:vnm:wpdman:71

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Hélène Giroux, 2006. "'It Was Such a Handy Term': Management Fashions and Pragmatic Ambiguity," Journal of Management Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 43(6), pages 1227-1260, September.
    2. Judith Butler, 2010. "Performative Agency," Journal of Cultural Economy, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 3(2), pages 147-161, July.
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    Cited by:

    1. Jacques-Bernard Gauthier & Ronan Hério & Johanne Paradis, 2014. "Projets de changement organisationnel et pratique de la pharmacie hospitalière au Québec: des espaces techniques à l’espace stratégique," RePAd Working Paper Series UQO-DSA-wp012014, Département des sciences administratives, UQO.

    More about this item


    performativity; lean management; health care; organizational dynamics.;

    JEL classification:

    • M10 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Business Administration - - - General

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