Rhetoric as Praxis in Leading and Organizing A Public Administration: A Journey in Democratic Governance

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Virginia Tech

Currently, rhetoric is considered a negative term. This dissertation uses rhetoric as a normative term serving simultaneously as both the central story line and storyteller. Rhetoric is both the object of study and the lens through which to study. A field study was conducted with the Roanoke County administration. The rhetorical patterns of administrative leaders were observed and documented in their day-to-day activities.

Rhetoric is the conceptual glue both highlighting and pulling together different layers of understanding. At the level of theory development and application, this includes building conceptual linkages between leading and organizing. In practice, public administrators know that leading and organizing occur as an integrated whole. Methodologically, a new technique to study the rhetoric of leading and organizing is introduced within the Roanoke County field study. At a normative level, the linkages discovered in the rhetorical discourse of leading and organizing reveal a greater understanding of democratic governance. The field study provides insights into leading and organizing that are also constitutive of a normative position regarding democratic governance.

leading, democratic governance, organizing, rhetoric