Wednesday 17:38, Somewhere on the Northern Line, Somewhere Underground, London
I’m not as intelligent as you may think I am. While it’s not my intention to victimise myself or to fish for compliments, I’ll give myself credit for being determined, quick at decision making and driven. And I guess there’s an element of passion in here somewhere. But super intelligent? No, that’s definitely not me. At most, I’d say I’m reasonably so.
What has brought about this sudden and unexpected wave of self-doubt, you may ask yourselves. I suspect it has got to do with an article that I’m currently reading.
The title of the article is Beneath and Beyond Organizational Change Management: Exploring Alternatives. As you can tell from its somewhat dry title, it’s an academic article from a management journal called Organization. Now, I have to admit it has been a while since I dedicated myself to reading academic journals. My last encounter with this highly particular form of communication was when reading an article about public health in the great scholarly publication Foreign Affairs. I had the intention – and, believe me, intention was all that I had – of subscribing to it for no other reason than to satiate my hunger for analysis and debate on foreign policy, economics and global affairs. The article was extremely fascinating, but it was a hard read and it took forever. Needless to say, I never took out a subscription.
Academic writing can be such a god damn pain. If the objective of writing a scholarly article about any topic is to communicate, why do some authors choose to communicate in the most incomprehensible ways?
Take this paragraph as an example:
Francis and Sinclair locate their analysis of HRM-based changed within Fairclough’s notion of a ‘discursive event’ – the imbrication of text and practice – linked to the hegemonic struggles over meaning.
If that’s not enough, take a look at this:
Drawing on what they describe as Scandinavian institutionalism, their explicit aim is to transcend the conventional oppositions between stability and change; planned and emergent (adaptive) change; or imitation (old) and innovation (new). Attention is focused on the construction (or translation) of meaning, as in the translation of ideas to fit problems, regardless of their form. For example, Czarniawska and Gorges (1996) develop the theme of translation of meaning (of people and objects as well as that of ideas) in presenting organisational change in terms of the ‘travels of ideas’ into disembedded ‘quasi-objects’ (i.e graphical representations) and then more embedded institutions and identities and, from there, ‘new’ ideas.
No wonder I feel like the academic equivalent of a ‘dumbwaiter’, you know, the lift that brings food from the kitchen to the waiters’ serving area. ‘Dumblearner’ would quite aptly sum up how I feel at the moment.
In the end, it took me over 2.5 hours to read this article of 9.5 pages. When expressing my despair and inability to make sense of what I’m reading, Marc comforted me by saying that, with time, I should get better at it. I certainly can’t get any worse, that’s for sure.