Narrating the Organization: Dramas of Institutional Identity
The most common social phenomenon of Western societies is the organization, yet those
involved in real-world managing are not always willing to reveal the intricacies of their
everyday muddles. Barbara Czarniawska argues that in order to understand these uncharted
territories, we need to gather local and concrete stories about organizational life and subject
them to abstract and metaphorical interpretation.
Using a narrative approach unique to organizational studies, Czarniawska employs literary
devices to uncover the hidden workings of organizations. She applies cultural metaphors to
public administration in Sweden to demonstrate, for example, how the dynamics of a
screenplay can illuminate the budget disputes of an organization. She shows how the
interpretive description of organizational worlds works as a distinct genre of social analysis,
and her investigations ultimately disclose the paradoxical nature of organizational life: we follow
routines in order to change, and decentralize in order to control. By confronting such
paradoxes, we bring crisis to existing institutions and enable them to change.
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one The Narrative in Culture Studies
four Enacting Routines for Change
Innovation and Repetition
eight Paradoxical Material
nine Changing Devices
ten Constructing Narratives
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achieve action nets actors anthropology ASIO attempt authors autobiography become Bruner Brunsson budget bill central character claim communication Company-ization construction context conversation created criticism culture deparadoxification device DiMaggio drama economic ethnomethodology example existing fact friction genre human idea illusion of controllability important individual innovation institutionalist institutionalized thought structure institutions interesting interlocutor interpretation kind knowledge language Latour literary literary theory Luhmann Maclntyre meaning metanarratives metaphor mode modern identity municipal narrative approach narrative paradigm Narrator notion NSIB numbers observation operations organization field organization studies organization theory paradoxes Pliny the Younger political polyphony possible postmodern practice present problems proposal public administration public sector rational reader reality reflection rhetoric role Rorty routines semiotic sense serials situation social insurance offices social sciences society story Sweden Swedish tell things tion tional tradition understand words writing