There has been much research done on organizational dissent, but there is a dearth of research dedicated to how television shows portray dissent over the airwaves. In Deviating From the Script: A Content Analysis of Organizational Dissent as Portrayed on Primetime Television by Johny T. Garner, Emily S. Kinsky, Andrei C. Duta, and Julia Danker, the authors attempted to combine these two theories for their study. Using the data collected by the authors and their research team, the authors resolved to measure how effective the dissent was in creating change. Organizational dissent is important in nonfictional workplaces for a variety of reasons, and these results indicate one potential influence on organizational members that may depict dissent as futile (Garner et al., 2012, p. 620). The authors set about trying to quantify organizational dissent on network television in the primetime hours. The authors also argued that organizational dissent was the challenge of status quo and the benefits of this challenge was of value to both the dissenter and the organization as well. This review will provide a critical analysis of the article as well offer some insights into where the authors’ research could go further.
Hypotheses and Philosophical Perspectives
Garner et al. provided three hypotheses for their content analysis of primetime programming. First, the authors hypothesized that dissent would be portrayed as ineffective. In this hypothesis, effectiveness was defined in terms of receiving emotional support and/or achieving instrumental change. The second hypothesis was centered on to whom the dissent would be expressed. The authors used four potential dissent audiences: supervisors, subordinates, coworkers and people outside of the organization. This postulation speculated that the supervisor above all other groups would receive the most feedback in this area. Similarly, the third and final hypothesis supposed that the dissent would be pointed toward a person or group that could do something to resolve the point of contention.
The authors used the cultivation theory as an undertone for their research and combined that with an overall notion of outcomes based on television viewership. Morgan (2000) noted that “the cultivation theory explains how attitudes can be changed over a longer period of time” (as cited in Garner, Kinsky, Duta, & Danker, 2012, p. 610) and Gerbner (1990) used the cultivation theory’s argument that television programs present generally consistent messages to viewers and that those messages shape viewers expectations for ‘‘real life’’ (as cited in Garner, Kinsky, Duta, & Danker, 2012, p. 618). The authors posited that the result of sustained television viewership would transfer to how the viewer reflected on their own worldview. Garner et al. used a cultivation theory interpretation on their data to presume that viewers would be more likely to see dissent as ineffective and therefore pointless and at minimum it is...