Sensemaking in the Third Space - Essays on French-Finnish Bicultural Experiences in Organizations and Their Narratives (summary section only)

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Title: Sensemaking in the Third Space - Essays on French-Finnish Bicultural Experiences in Organizations and Their Narratives (summary section only)
Author: Fougère, Martin
Contributor: Swedish School of Economics and Business Administration, Department of Marketing, Marketing
Thesis level: Doctoral thesis
Belongs to series: Economics and Society - 142
ISBN: 951-555-872-7
Abstract: Research on cross-cultural and intercultural aspects in organizations has been traditionally conducted from an objectivist, functionalist perspective, with culture treated as an independent variable, and often the key explanatory factor. In order to do justice to the ontological relativity of the phenomena studied, more subjectivist research on intercultural interactions, and especially on their relationships with the dynamics of cultural identity construction, is needed. The present research seeks to address this gap by focusing on bicultural interactions in organizations, as they are experienced by the involved individuals. It is argued that such bicultural situations see the emergence of a space of hybridity, which is here called a ‘third space’, and which can be understood as providing ‘occasions for sensemaking’: it is this individual sensemaking that is of particular interest in the empirical narrative study. A first overall aim of the study is to reach an understanding of the dynamics of bicultural interactions in organizations; an understanding not only of the potential for learning and emancipatory sensemaking, but also of the possibility of conflict and alienatory ordering (this is mainly addressed in the theoretical essays 1 and 2). Further, a second overall aim of the study is to analyze the reflexive identity construction of four young French expatriates involved in such bicultural interactions in organizations in Finland, in order to examine the extent to which their expatriation experiences have allowed for an emancipatory opportunity in their cases (in essays 3 and 4). The primary theoretical contribution in this study lies in its new articulation of the dynamics of bicultural interactions in organizations. The ways in which the empirical material is analyzed bring about methodological contributions: since the expatriates’ accounts are bound to be some kind of construction, the analysis is made from angles that point to how the self-narratives construct reality. There are two such angles here: a ‘performative’ one and a ‘spatial’ one. The most important empirical contributions lie in the analysis of, on the one hand, the alternative uses that the young expatriates made of the notion of ‘national culture’ in their self-narratives, and, on the other hand, their ‘narrative practices of the third space’: their politics of escape or stabilization, their exploration of space or search for place, their emancipation from their origin or return to home as only horizon.
Date: 2005-03-22
Subject: bicultural interactions
cross-cultural / intercultural
identity construction
third space
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