The Concept of Language and Structuration Theory

Koos Wagensveld


Structuration theory lacks the concept of language; however, language is important during social interaction, for instance during communication. Many authors use structuration theory in their research on, e.g., accounting, governance, and control; yet the expansion of structuration theory is left behind. Following this, we come to our research question: How can language be incorporated in structuration theory? First, several subquestions need to be answered: (1) What is structuration theory? (2) What has been written about language in structuration theory? (3) How can language, theoretically, be incorporated in structuration theory? (4) Can the extended framework be applied to an auditing firm? To answer the first three subquestions, a literature review was performed. For the last subquestion, data were collected from a case study at a Dutch “big four” auditing firm, in particular, the performance measurement system of the auditing firm. Structuration theory builds on the notion of the “duality of structure.” This means that “structures are both the medium and the outcome of interaction” (MacIntosch and Scapens, 1990. p. 456-457). Social structures have three dimensions – signification (meaning), legitimation (morality) and domination (power). The literature review shows that language can be seen as a duality of structure. Using representatives of language – discourse, genre, and culture - structuration theory is expanded. The results of the case study also show that discourse, genre, and culture have an influence on how employees give meaning, act and speak during communication, but also change through time.

Aus. J. Law, Ethics & Gov. Vol 2(2), October 2016, P 177-198


Structuration Theory; Language; Discourse; Genre; Culture; Performance Measurement; Auditing Firms

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