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A model of the strength and appropriateness of argumentation and rhetoric in organizational contexts

Sillince, John A.A. (2002) A model of the strength and appropriateness of argumentation and rhetoric in organizational contexts. Journal of Management Studies, 39 (5). pp. 585-618. ISSN 0022-2380

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Abstract

Argumentation within organizations depends for its effectiveness upon the context. The model presented seeks to identify the three ways in which an arguer can become more persuasive. The first way uses the fact that many of the dimensions of argument strength (familiarity, evidence, simplicity, etc) are not appropriate in particular organizational contexts, so that within each context the arguer must select a particular combination of appropriate dimensions. The second way uses the fact that each context has its own rhetorical requirements and gives rise to its own appropriate rhetorical form which triggers a myth-like association. The third way uses the fact that the four elements of context (arguer, audience, topic and setting) must be skilfully integrated together, especially with regard to showing empathy for the audience, balancing contradictory elements (such as promises and warnings) in the same argument in order to minimize the simplifying effect of rhetoric, and remaining tactically flexible enough to switch positions.