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Storytelling in OrganizationsFacts, Fictions, and Fantasies$
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Yiannis Gabriel

Print publication date: 2000

Print ISBN-13: 9780198290957

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198290957.001.0001

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Storytelling and Sensemaking

Storytelling and Sensemaking

(p.31) Chapter 2 Storytelling and Sensemaking
Storytelling in Organizations

Yiannis Gabriel

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines the process whereby events within an organization turn into stories. It looks at an instance where a single incident fed three different stories, each based on a distinct interpretation of the event. It also looks at three instances where particular stories had become part of organizational folklore, in each case crystallized around a single interpretation. Faced with such narratives, researchers may dismiss them as trifles of organizational life, or they may treat stories as clues leading to the ‘truth’ about the organization. This chapter tests whether the folklorists' tenet that the primary function of storytelling is entertainment is valid in organizations. It also shows that even sad and anxiety-provoking stories can afford pleasure, albeit in oblique and unexpected ways. Yet, it is argued that, in contrast to the telling of fairy tales or folk tales, the telling of organizational stories frequently moves beyond entertainment, seeking to educate, persuade, warn, reassure, justify, explain, and console.

Keywords:   stories, organizational folklore, storytelling, organizational stories, fairy tales, folk tales

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