Story work in the organisation: Constructing and contesting the narrative

Publikation: Konferencebidrag uden forlag/tidsskriftKonferenceabstrakt til konferenceForskningpeer review


Many organisations are strategically committed to fostering a particular workplace culture to ensure the achievement of organisational goals (Alvesson & Willmott 2002). To do so, they may design and apply ‘appropriate structures, procedures, measures and targets’ (ibid: 621), assuming that this will lead to the desired behaviour of organisational members. However, studies suggest that the regulation of members’ behaviour is rarely accomplished through organisational structures and designs, but is frequently the result of members’ self-positioning and identification with (dominant) organisational discourses and narratives (Alvesson & Willmott 2002; Frandsen et al. 2017). This perspective forms the background of the paper, which will analyse and discuss middle managers’ negotiation with dominant understandings of workplace culture in a Danish bank and building society. The analysis will take its starting point in discourse as narrative action (Bamberg & Andrews 2004), which focuses on the constitutive force of discourse and narrative, e.g. in relation to organisational change (Frandsen et al. 2017). Of particular concern is the concept of counter-narrative as an alternate version to dominant or authoritative narratives, attracting attention to the struggles over meanings, values and identities that consistently take place in organisations (Mumby 1987). In the bank, these struggles are exemplified through the discursive construction of recruitment policies and practices, with managers both subscribing to dominant narratives and constructing counter-narratives that challenge the very meaning of these as well as invite questions of the relationship between self and the social (Bamberg & Andrews 2004). The paper analyses seventeen semi-structured interviews with middle managers, using a combination of discourse and narrative analysis, which allows for a critical perspective on managers’ constructions of recruitment including the (fragmented) narratives used to establish self and the organisation (Alvesson & Kärreman 2011; Grant & Iedema 2005; Humle & Frandsen 2017). The analysis shows that despite efforts to implement a master discourse and narrative, narratives may exist that contest and yet exist peacefully alongside it. This, it appears, is partly the result of individual experience in local contexts where well-established workplace practices prevail.
Publikationsdatojul. 2018
StatusUdgivet - jul. 2018
BegivenhedCADAAD 2018 - AAU, Aalborg, Danmark
Varighed: 4 jul. 20186 jul. 2018


KonferenceCADAAD 2018


  • counter-narrative
  • discourse
  • recruitment


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