Publication Details

Dawson, P. M. & Buchanan, D. (2003). Telling Tales: Authoring Narratives of Organizational Change. In A. Brown (Eds.), Proceedings of the Australian and New Zealand Academy of Management Conference (pp. 1-26). Fremantle, Australia: Australian and New Zealand Academy of Management.


The aim of this paper is to explore the challenges of authoring case study narratives of organizational change in a processual perspective. Most theoretical and managerial accounts of change are narrative-based. They tend to begin with a problem period, then describe interventions, and end with an assessment of outcomes and 'lessons'. However, in the construction of coherent and credible narratives, the voices of competing accounts of change may be silenced. Evidence suggests that accounts of change compete on at least four dimensions, concerning assessments, interpretations, facts, and audiences. The framework developed by Deetz (1996) is used to illustrate how narratives can be authored through normative, interpretive, critical and dialogic research orientations. The author of the organizational change narratives faces challenges concerning research methods, inclusivity, exposure of aberrant narratives, and ethical principles. The main challenge, however, concerns the discourse within which to frame narrative accounts, a choice which influences audience receptivity and academic credibility.