The paradox of control in participative decision-making : facilitative discourse in banks

Lorrita YEUNG

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


This article examines the question of control in participative decision-making (PDM). Control poses a particular problem in organizations today, as organizational survival is arguably dependent on the contributions of subordinates, whose viewpoints may diverge from existing organizational premises. The question of what kind of management control, if any, is exercised in PDM, becomes relevant. Yet, despite the heavy emphasis on the importance of language and communication in facilitating PDM, there is a lack of empirical research on the discourse features of facilitative management. The present article attempts to fill this gap by analyzing the pragmalinguistic patterns of facilitation in PDM sessions in three banks in Hong Kong. The findings indicate that facilitation follows distinctive patterns, using discourse strategies quite different from those of gatekeeping control. Linguistic features such as modals, pronouns etc. correspondingly exhibit a different pattern of use. However, facilitative discourse also displays certain features commonly found in the discourse of authoritative control, such as the use of questions, rephrasing etc. Wliile control is evident in the guidance provided, the facilitative manager may come to a point where positional power has to submit to the unfolding PDM process. The patterns observed can be accounted for by the particular organizational and cultural contexts of the management discourse.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)113-146
Number of pages34
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2004


  • Control
  • Discourse analysis
  • Facilitation
  • Participative decision-making
  • Pragmalinguistic features.


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