Document Type

Conference Paper


Available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike 4.0 International Licence

Publication Details

Conference presentation at DICOEN 2009: Fifth International Conference on Discourse, Communication and the Enterprise 24- 26th September, Milan: Università degli Studi di Milano. 2009.


Small owner-managed firms are an interesting site in which to examine the deployment of strategy discourse. On the one hand, small firms offer a location where the holistic nature of strategy (Clegg et al., 2004:24; Liedtka, 1998:122; Lilley,2001: 75) is more likely to feature in daily practice On the other hand, owner-managed firms lack a key reason for the original emergence of the strategy discourse i.e. strategy as a discourse of accountability by professional managers to shareholders (Knights & Morgan, 1991). Small firm owner-managers are the ideological heroes of the enterprise discourse (Carr, 2000:101). This work looks at how owner-managers use strategy and enterprise discourse as they interact in dyadic research interviews. Dyadic research interviews are particularly potent for prompting identity work (Lee & Roth, 2003). The data shows that the small-firm owner-managers, in doing this work, use enterprise discourse extensively, but only as one half of a dichotomously unified discourse: ‘Enterprise-Strategy’ discourse acts in a way reminiscent of Billig et al’s (1988) ideological dilemmas. Specific attributes of enterprise (or strategy) discourse are often used in close proximity to balance the dilemmatic opposite of the strategy (or enterprise) discourse. Enterprise discourse has a somewhat different genealogy from that of strategy discourse, and in academic discourse the literatures have been until recently quite distinct. Given how the enterprise and strategy discourses are used together, my work points to the value bringing the study of these fields together.