Crossing chronotopes in the polyphonic organisation: A dialogical analysis of the comedy industry

Paul Sullivan, Anna Madill, Maxine Glancy, Penelope Allen



The ‘Polyphonic Organisation’ is an emerging root-metaphor for the multiple voices that constitute an organisation. In this article, we explore the narrative concept of the ‘chronotope’ as a feature of the ‘polyphonic organisation’. The ‘chronotope’ refers to the matrix of time-space-value in organisations.  We argue that the chronotope is important because it introduces boundaries between voices within Organisations and therefore helps to explain why some voices are heard while others are not in the ‘Polyphonic Organisation’.  There are multiple kinds of chronotopes which lead to different kinds of time-spaces matrices within the polyphonic organisation.  Our aim is to examine chronotope crossings within polyphonic organisations as part of the work of being heard.  This is a theoretical argument but we present an analysis of the comedy industry to exemplify it.  Here we found three kinds of chronotopes that characterised the industry: 1) The comedy-offense boundary; 2) The commissioning landscape 3) Platform spaces.   Crossing these chronotopes, e.g. from writing sitcom to being commissioned to getting an audience, involves: 1) attempting to turn potential offence into humour and love 2) Wooing and keeping commissioning editors.  3) Tactically aiming for a niche within the structural spaces available.  Overall, this case-study draws attention to the role of chronotope as organising the polyphonic organisation; sheds light on the organisation of the comedy industry and presents an account of being heard within the polyphonic organisation.


Polyphony; chronotope; comedy; dialogical analysis

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