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Renate E. Meyer

Professor for Organization Studies

WU, Vienna University of Economics and Business

Discussing the Numbers

Visual and multimodal instantiations of role identities and stakeholder relations


In this manuscript, we present the current status of our development of novel multimodal methodology and demonstrate it with preliminary findings from an empirical study of role identities instantiated in organizational communication. Conceptually, we combine insights from role identity theory with the study of (multi)modal registers. We focus on the idea that visual text is able to assign both depicted actors as well as the viewer typified positions in social space subtly, and in an embodied manner that complements verbal text in crucial ways. We empirically illustrate our conceptual and methodological ideas with multimodal data from corporations’ reporting on corporate social responsibility (CSR) and sustainability activities in two different cultural and institutional contexts: Austria and Denmark. We aim at contributing to emerging literature on multimodal organization studies by presenting first ideas towards a conceptually guided heuristic for analyzing sets of multimodal data. Additionally, we connect to ongoing discussions about the role identities and role-sets underlying sustainability debates.

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