Winning Is(n't) Everything: The Paradox of Excellence and the Challenge of Organizational EpideicticThis essay is derived from Melissa Stahley's M.A. thesis at Purdue University, directed by Josh Boyd. An earlier version of the essay was presented at the International Communication Association convention, New York City, 2005.
Encompassing both the controlled messages of values advocacy and less explicit rhetorical actions such as philanthropy, community programs, and volunteerism, organizational epideictic affirms common values. This essay argues that such common values are problematized by the presence of paradox even in seemingly innocuous epideictic subjects. Through a case study of the National Collegiate Athletic Association's “Stay in Bounds” program teaching children to be good sports both on and off the field, the essay demonstrates the challenges of organizational epideictic through the paradox of excellence. It also provides suggestions for the management—but not elimination—of paradox in organizational epideictic, particularly directed at external publics.