Discourse and audience: organizational change as multi-story process



Publication Details

Buchanan, D. & Dawson, P. M. (2007). Discourse and audience: organizational change as multi-story process. Journal of Management Studies, 44 (5), 669-686.


Purpose- Explores how organizational changes processes can be better understood by adopting polyvocal narratives.

Design/methodology/approach - Puts forward how research accounts, comprising of competing histories, choose either to adopt narratives that emphasise stylistic choices and which support the dominant narrative or report otherwise marginal or silenced voices. Offers a definition of narrative in order to better understand change processes and drawing on the relevant literature, illustrates how research narratives offer selective accounts that adopt particular discourses. Suggests that by including competing narratives concerned with the same event, insights can be gained about the change process and argues how multiple and conflicting narratives by different stakeholders can better reveal the iterative processes of sense giving and sense making. Looks at the methodological challenges facing researchers intent on accommodating different stakeholders narratives over time; provides some guidance to researchers wishing to improve narrative sense making and to provide a meta-analysis, of the change process, that is both polyvocal and coherent. Concludes by stating how research designs that adopt a contextual perspective can offer valuable insights into understanding organizational change processes.

Originality/value - Identifies some of the issues that should be taken into account with regard to narrative sense making.

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