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The road not taken: narratives of action and organizational change

The road not taken: narratives of action and organizational change PurposeThe purpose of this paper is to advance the understanding of the importance and function of narratives in the context of organizational change.Design/methodology/approachDrawing on Schutz’s theory of human intentional action, the author introduces the concept of a mental plan – broadly referring to the mental rehearsal of a future act – and builds a conceptual framework that connects mental plans to narratives. Viewing actions through the lens of mental plans and narratives would prompt a combination of rigid clarity and flexible vagueness in both the action and the stories. Considering this, the author developed a longitudinal case study on organizational change in an international company amid an intense renewal process. Several narratives about the project of organizational change were studied, and these revealed some of the functions that narratives serve as well as their importance in connecting plans of human action with the actual execution of those actions. This paper identifies numerous distinct narratives, created by different actors, which focus on the process of setting and reaching a final goal. The content of these narratives reveals how different views and strategies co-exist simultaneously in the organization, even when actors are trying to achieve the same goal.FindingsTraditionally, management takes an analytical approach to understand how change occurs in organizations. This paper emphasizes the importance and functions of narratives as a fundamental component of organizational change. On par with the linear plan of action, it is argued that the assortment of narratives delivered from various points of views in the organization are, indeed, the driver of change, and their dynamic interaction would determine the outcome of a change project.Originality/valueThe paper advances the understanding of the role of narratives in organizational change. This paper emphasizes the difficulties of using an analytical approach as a basis for understanding how action is implemented. This difficulty arises because of the variety of interpretations and meanings given to the project purpose and goal, and how these interpretations and meanings influence people’s future actions or project success. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Journal of Organizational Change Management Emerald Publishing

The road not taken: narratives of action and organizational change

Journal of Organizational Change Management , Volume 30 (3): 10 – May 8, 2017

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Publisher
Emerald Publishing
Copyright
Copyright © Emerald Group Publishing Limited
ISSN
0953-4814
DOI
10.1108/JOCM-10-2016-0201
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

PurposeThe purpose of this paper is to advance the understanding of the importance and function of narratives in the context of organizational change.Design/methodology/approachDrawing on Schutz’s theory of human intentional action, the author introduces the concept of a mental plan – broadly referring to the mental rehearsal of a future act – and builds a conceptual framework that connects mental plans to narratives. Viewing actions through the lens of mental plans and narratives would prompt a combination of rigid clarity and flexible vagueness in both the action and the stories. Considering this, the author developed a longitudinal case study on organizational change in an international company amid an intense renewal process. Several narratives about the project of organizational change were studied, and these revealed some of the functions that narratives serve as well as their importance in connecting plans of human action with the actual execution of those actions. This paper identifies numerous distinct narratives, created by different actors, which focus on the process of setting and reaching a final goal. The content of these narratives reveals how different views and strategies co-exist simultaneously in the organization, even when actors are trying to achieve the same goal.FindingsTraditionally, management takes an analytical approach to understand how change occurs in organizations. This paper emphasizes the importance and functions of narratives as a fundamental component of organizational change. On par with the linear plan of action, it is argued that the assortment of narratives delivered from various points of views in the organization are, indeed, the driver of change, and their dynamic interaction would determine the outcome of a change project.Originality/valueThe paper advances the understanding of the role of narratives in organizational change. This paper emphasizes the difficulties of using an analytical approach as a basis for understanding how action is implemented. This difficulty arises because of the variety of interpretations and meanings given to the project purpose and goal, and how these interpretations and meanings influence people’s future actions or project success.

Journal

Journal of Organizational Change ManagementEmerald Publishing

Published: May 8, 2017

References