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Essays on the Language Lens of Strategy: Theoretical Assumptions, and Discursive Strategy in the context of SpaceX

Ao, Jingning (2023) Essays on the Language Lens of Strategy: Theoretical Assumptions, and Discursive Strategy in the context of SpaceX. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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This dissertation comprises of two essays (Chapter 2 and Chapter 3) that aim to delve into the language perspective of strategy. The concept of language has been increasingly gaining recognition in strategy research. However, a challenge arises as its theoretical advancement lags behind empirical work. Investigating the language lens can be beneficial in improving theoretical clarity and promoting enhanced reflexivity in strategy.
The first essay (Chapter 2) focuses on how strategy scholars approach language using a qualitative approach. I demonstrate the plurality of language, as it can be viewed as a window that objectively represents reality, or an enabler that constructively enacts reality. The former considers language as a proxy for measuring constructs, while the latter places language at the center of research. Additionally, I bring attention to an extreme enabling view as a linguistic trap, namely the outdated Whorfian hypothesis, which suggests that language determines thought and behavior. Reliance on this outdated theory undermines the convincing power of research that employs it.
The second essay (Chapter 3) builds on the first one and explores the enabling view of language in strategy research empirically. Specifically, I examine the enabling language and its relationship with other communicative elements, such as visuals and audio, in the field of discursive strategy. I investigate how discursive strategy, through social media, can be actively utilized to promote entrepreneurial firms, such as SpaceX. Employing a mixed-method inductive analysis of the top 50 most-viewed SpaceX YouTube videos, I find that videos serve as effective tools of discursive strategy that convey disruptive innovation and inspire stakeholders to pursue future-making aspirations.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee CoChairCamillus, John
Committee CoChairGalletta,
Date: 23 May 2023
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 12 April 2023
Approval Date: 23 May 2023
Submission Date: 21 May 2023
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 152
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business > Business Administration
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: language, Whorfian hypothesis, research settings, linguistic assumptions, discursive strategy, entrepreneurial firm, SpaceX, video analysis
Date Deposited: 23 May 2023 20:50
Last Modified: 23 May 2023 20:50


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