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What do we mean by performativity in organizational and management theory? The uses and abuses of performativity.

Gond, J.-P. and Cabantous, L. and Harding, N. and Learmonth, M. (2016) 'What do we mean by performativity in organizational and management theory? The uses and abuses of performativity.', International journal of management reviews., 18 (4). pp. 440-463.


John Austin introduced the formulation ‘performative utterance’ in his 1962 book How to Do Things with Words. This term and the related concept of performativity have subsequently been interpreted in numerous ways by social scientists and philosophers such as Lyotard, Butler, Callon and Barad, leading to the coexistence of several foundational perspectives on performativity. This paper reviews and evaluates critically how organization and management theory (OMT) scholars have used these perspectives, and how the power of performativity has, or has not, stimulated new theory-building. In performing a historical and critical review of performativity in OMT, the authors’ analysis reveals the uses, abuses and under-uses of the concept by OMT scholars. It also reveals the lack of both organizational conceptualizations of performativity and analysis of how performativity is organized. Ultimately, the authors’ aim is to provoke a ‘performative turn’ in OMT by unleashing the power of the performativity concept to generate new and stronger organizational theories.

Item Type:Article
Keywords:Austin, Organization theory, Performativity, Translation, Theory-building.
Full text:(AM) Accepted Manuscript
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Publisher statement:This is the accepted version of the following article: Gond, J.-P., Cabantous, L., Harding, N. and Learmonth, M. (2016), What Do We Mean by Performativity in Organizational and Management Theory? The Uses and Abuses of Performativity. International Journal of Management Reviews, 18(4): 440-463, which has been published in final form at This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance With Wiley Terms and Conditions for self-archiving.
Date accepted:23 May 2015
Date deposited:03 June 2015
Date of first online publication:07 July 2015
Date first made open access:07 July 2017

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