Publication Details

This article was originally published as: Dawson, P, Organizational change stories and management research: facts or fiction, Journal of the Australian and New Zealand Academy of Management, 2003, 9(3), 37-49. Copyright eContent Management Pty Ltd, 2003. The journal name has changed and is now called the Journal of Management & Organization. Journal information can be found here.


Company change stories are often constructed around a linear series of ‘successful’ events which serve to show the company in a positive light to any interested external party. These stories of company success sanitise this process and offer data for change experts to formulate neat linear prescriptions on how to best manage change. This position is criticised in this paper which draws on processual case study data to argue that change is a far more complex muddied political process consisting of competing histories and ongoing multiple change narratives which may vie for dominance in seeking to be the change story. A central aim is to demonstrate the analytical importance of identifying and unpacking frameworks of interpretation which are utilized in organizational struggles over change outcomes. Understanding how change stories are managed also highlights political process and draws attention to the ways in which power is exercised. As such, the paper calls for the more widespread use of the concept of ‘competing histories’ and ‘multiple change narratives’ in theories which seek to explain processes of organizational change.



Link to publisher version (DOI)