This article focuses on the role of organizational storytelling and identity formation of a Danish filmmaking company, Zentropa Entertainment Productions Company (a.k.a. Zentropa). Identity formation, as storytelling, is taking place in a context of multiple voices, polyphony, and is performed in dialogue. The article explores how identities are co-produced through the interaction between the organization and external actors by their story interaction. The study illustrates how the identity of a filmmaking company emerges from identity stories and how they are co-produced with the media. We argue that the rebellious ‘Maverick’ identity of Zentropa has emerged through its interaction with the media through “counter stories.” Finally, the study shows the difficulties that Zentropa encountered trying to maintain its rebellious ‘Maverick’ identity.
Organizations can be seen as discursive places where language practices (developing, telling and restoring stories) flourish. Individuals usually develop their identity in this space, being influenced (choosing alignment or choosing counter-identity) by meta-stories told at the organizational level through brand identity or corporate identity. This article aims at identifying the link between the micro type (individual) and macro type of identity (brand and corporate identity). In particular, our work focuses on the impact and the risk of storytelling when developing theses links.
Through a nuanced braiding of Weick’s (1995) sensemaking epistemology and Sartre’s (1957) phenomenological ontology, we propose an approach to organizational analysis which we label existential sensemaking. We first explore the potential to fuse Weick’s sensemaking and Sartre’s ontology and then examine the case of a Peruvian mountaineering expedition to explore the potential of the existential sensemaking heuristic in understanding the importance of individual decision making in the process of identity work. We conclude that this perspective has profound implications for understanding ethical behaviour in organizing processes as well as within identity construction.
When organizations do not attend to social justice issues in a meaningful way, a pattern of covert practices and behavior distorts the concern for fairness, equity and inclusion to one of indifference, power and control. Ineffective leadership results in wounded staff and organizational dysfunction. Social justice in organizational life is a function of how well leaders and managers master six domains that influence and sustain institutional balance and self-regulation: safety and trust; boundaries and differences; accountability; communication; hierarchical power; and task and role clarity. Ultimately, leaders must do their own inner work by taking responsibility for their part in institutionalizing oppression in their organizations, and well as the outer work of creating processes and structures that implement solutions to social justice issues within their organizations
Drawing upon the genre of ethnographic fiction, this paper explores the challenges that occur when third- and fourth-tier colleges and universities seek accreditation from AACSB. Deans and change leaders normally see the process of achieving accreditation in terms of bureaucratic and behavioral change. This paper argues that more focus must be placed on understanding how the demands of accreditation challenge faculty members’ self-image. Therefore, achieving accreditation requires individuals to have a change in their self-identity so that behavioral change can follow.
A consultant and lead client discuss the rationale and process for an organization-wide diversity initiative in a national political organization. Approaches and models used to address systemic organization change for racial inclusion in a social justice framework are reviewed. Discussion of initial results, including emerging cultural change and ancillary benefits of the initiative follow. The authors conclude with challenges and expectations for expanding the change into programmatic work and for sustainability.
This article is based on a framework for assessing and working with mental models and utilizing the exploration of ‘dominant’ worldviews to increase individual and organizational competency to identify, assess and shift worldviews to foster social change. The author describes her methodology and results during the data collection, data analysis, data feedback, and intervention phases of a consultation with a client. She reviews literature on white privilege, mental models, power, and cultural competency. The author reflects on implications of the engagement for the client, herself and the discourse on the role of OD as a catalyst for social change.
This paper explores how assigning software developers the identity of “engineers” metes out specific assumptions about IT projects. To this end, the paper describes an alternative metaphor of programming as art, which is commonly used by the programmers interviewed. In addition, the discussion draws conclusions from the discrepancies between the two views as well as from the proposed metaphor, explaining organizational reluctance to aesthetical vocabulary. This paper discusses occupational identity—emphasizing the identity of programmers—using qualitative research methods. As such, it enriches the literature currently available on this profession.
Organizational evolution is presented in lieu of the concept of change, revolution, revitalization, etc. in that one can assert that organizations can only evolve, they cannot develop a new structure and paradigm from nonexistent precursors, elements, structures, etc. One year is action science based with the executives diving off of logs into the arms of their vice presidents, the next is playing games and doing puzzles to determine the company's cognitive centre, more recently its not been about expressing feelings and defenses, or understanding perception, but about being appreciated. In short, all of these evangelically based approaches which view an organization through a single lens fail.
This article discusses how the emerging trend of using literary arts and dialogue, along with reflective and creative writing, referred to by the author as transformative narratives, can be used to help unpack and re-script assumptions, attitudes, values, and biases of leaders as they operate in systems of privilege. When leaders read, write, and dialogue about their own and others’ cultural and social group identities, they increase self-awareness and improve interaction with others. These skills prove effective in building emotional intelligence that is linked to competencies of high performing leaders who create strong financial performance in their organizations. Specific applications are provided throughout the article.
This article grows out of a feeling that, over the past ten years or so, the concept of story has become distinctly too comfortable. Ideas that once seemed crisp and provocative (e.g. "The truth of a story lies in its meaning, not in its accuracy", "We are all storytelling animals", "Stories are repositories of knowledge" etc.) have assumed the standing of unquestioned truths, almost ‘facts’, in Latour’s view. Moreover, I have come to view some of the current ‘controversies’, notably over performance versus text, as diversions from more problematic aspects of the use of stories in organizational research. The purpose here to reproblematize the idea of narrative, to recover its recalcitrant and even dangerous qualities once more and point out some consequences of their seductive powers. In particular, I would like to argue that stories can be vehicles of contestation and opposition but also of oppression, easily slipping into hegemonic discourses; furthermore, that they can be vehicles to enlightenment and understanding but also to dissimulation and lying; and finally, that they do not obliterate or deny the existence of facts but allow facts to be re-interpreted and embellished – this makes stories particularly dangerous devices in the hands of image-makers, hoaxers and spin doctors. Stories have recently emerged as criticism-free zones, affording their authors an immunity from many requirements that apply to other narratives and texts. It is time, in my view, to withdraw this immunity. Neither stories, nor experiences are above academic criticism, challenge and contestation.
This article examines whether organization development and diversity consulting have the capacity to foster and sustain systemic change for social justice in organizations in the United States. In a number of her speeches and essays, Audre Lorde made the powerful statement that “the master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house.” My premise is that systemic racism and oppression in organizations (the “master’s house) was built with and continues to be maintained by the ideologies of materialism and white supremacy. My conclusion is that to achieve sustained systemic change for social justice we need to replace these ideologies and return to pre-existing belief systems of spirituality and interdependence so as to bring about true justice and equity.
In this essay, the author discusses the importance of self-work for diversity and social justice practitioners. In fact, she asserts that it is not only important for practitioners to increase their self-awareness; it is paramount to the success of the initiatives they are leading within any client system. As many organizations are still gripped by their fear of diversity efforts, the call for practitioners to embark on this in-depth exploration is loud and clear. Given the changed landscape from overt discrimination to covert forms of discrimination, this call to action includes being well versed in personal values, biases, assumptions, privileges and pain. The author articulates her point of view regarding these challenges as a scholar practitioner, in an attempt to renew diversity consultant’s commitment to their own personal development.
What does consulting and teaching look like from the sociopolitical spaces of privilege, ambivalence and oppression? Giving voice to visible social identities is explored through narrative exploration of teacher and student voices. Who can raise these issues and who cannot? Pedagogically, how can and should we as trainers address these issues? We discuss consulting and teaching about privilege and oppression across race, ethnicity and gender in psychology programs at urban universities in eastern and western United States. The three issues explored include: a) teaching about privilege and oppression from a visibly privileged social identity; b) acknowledging the ambiguities of privilege and oppression of minorities and immigrants from a sociopolitical space of ambivalence; and c) mentoring and modeling on issues of privilege and oppression from a visibly oppressed social identity. Consulting from this postmodernist perspective is different and more effective when members of all level of the organizations embrace readiness, patience and commitment toward organizational change. This approach is more aligned with the current shifts towards globalization and diversification occurring within organizations today.
This paper argues for an interpretive approach to theorizing as more than merely the assertion of truth-claims but in addition, as a social process that narrates the ordering and simplification of reality effects. Mary Douglas’ (1975) notion of the pangolin as a reflexive mediating concept able to “speak” to both macro and micro social theories is recommended. Ressentiment as just such a pangolin-like concept is proposed and its usefulness is explored in an organizational case study, made up of three vignettes, of doing business in a South African township. The role for ressentiment in an interpretive theory of power is considered.
The focus of this paper is the narrative construction of the nongovernmental organization (NGO) by the United Nations. How the NGO is conceptualized and communicated by a legitimate institution like the UN is critical for both the sustainability of NGOs and the social benefit created by them. This is because the allocation of resources to NGOs is directly affected by the understanding of what an NGO is. The data come from the 20 speeches of the 54th annual conference (2001) titled as ‘NGOs today: Diversity of the Volunteer Experience’ at the UN headquarters. The results of the study are derived from a critical reading of these 20 narratives. This is a procedure of reading the texts several times, back and forth. Through a participative process, the UN narratively constructs NGOs in terms of volunteerism, diversity, civil society, cooperation with governments, global problems, professionalism, and youth involvement. A preliminary theory of participative narrative construction is outlined.
Friedrich Nietzsche’s writings are currently threatened in that he is he treated only as a philosopher or a poet, and his relationship with twentieth century politics and latterly Management theory is largely ignored, excepting of course when he is held to be responsible for the growth in Fascism. In this paper an attempt will be made to show that Nietzsche should not simply be considered as the deracine par excellence with no interest with more general humanitarian concerns.
This paper presents a background to Nietzsche and his relationship to Managerialism and then provides a story written in Glaswegian argot of the relationship between a recruit to a Law Enforcement Office in Glasgow, Scotland and his new Manager. An interesting tale about performance management, illustrates how the abuse of power hides personal and organizational dysfunctionality.
Another key feature in the twist at the end of the tale is the manifestation of simulacra in performance measures relating to inspection tasks, where we see that ‘work not done but recorded’ becomes more important, more ‘real’ than ‘work done but not recorded’. This is the excess of history.
The story is written in the Glaswegian vernacular partly as homage to the renowned author James Kelman, but more significantly in an attempt take us closer to the lived experience of the actors – as opposed to the more usual sanitised accounts which abound in the management literature. The language is surprisingly ‘industrial’ in what is regarded as a ‘professional’ setting.
We propose in this article to take a story approach to organizational analysis. This implies that organizational life is perceived as polyphonic, equivocal, dialogical, unfinished and unresolved. We describe this approach as antenarrative inquiry in that it seeks to question established truths and moralities embedded in the narratives of the present. Antenarrative inquiry thus suspends beginnings, middles and ends in narratives and gives room for other voices. We propose Foucault’s power analysis, genealogy, as a method for antenarrative inquiry. We demonstrate the ideas of genealogy by relating it to Ricoeur’s work on narrative and time where experience is portrayed as a mimetic circle where endpoints lead back to pre-narration. We argue instead that organizational life is result of complex chains of interactions, negotiations and struggles. Genealogical scrutiny thus shakes up the mimetic circle and opens up for new interpretations of organizational life by revealing the power relations embedded in the conditions in which this life is storied and re-storied.
Freidrich Nietzsche has declared an ‘excess of history.’ History is not being crafted for the purpose of life. Nietzsche posits three kinds of history: antiquarian (excessive concern for the past as just trivia about heroes), monumental (emerging history of becoming that is being stifled), and need for critical history (a resistance to antiquarian that can degenerate into skepticism and cynicism). My purpose is to develop the three modes of past into a critique of retrospective narrative and point to its antithesis, living story of becoming. Organizations suffer from an excess of retrospective narrative history. The antidote is a methodology we at STORI are calling ‘story noticing.’