Department of Government

Speach-acting and social innovation

Thorvald Gran and Nadia von Jacobi has published an article in The European Journal of Social Science. The article is called "How and when does speech-acting generate social innovations", and it critically evaluates the constitutive power of language in matters of social innovation and organization in a "speech-act" theoretical framework.

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Main content

Gran and Jacobi assess theoretical contributions speech-act theories by philosopher and economist Amartya Sen, and philosopher John Searle. They investigate the conditions for a transfer of insights from speech-act theories to empirically oriented studies of social innovation and organization.

The question of when and how speech-acts can create social innovation and influence organization is critically evaluated, and illustrated by a series of historical examples. Among the examples employed is the decision made by Churchill to have Alan Turing lead the British efforts in cracking the Enigma code, a decision which had organizational implications, altering the composition of the team of which Turing was a member, and which also gained an advantage for the UK in the second world war. This example and others show the importance of language institutions, narrative construction and speech-acts, and shows how these phenomena may have real-world implications on organizational change, and of its importance in social innovation.