Sub-theme 29: Untold Stories of the Field and Beyond

Paul Donnelly
Dublin Institute of Technology, Ireland
Yiannis Gabriel
University of Bath, UK
Banu Özkazanç-Pan
University of Massachusetts, Boston, USA

Call for Papers

All too often, the organizational stories we tell and read as researchers are rather neatly ordered renderings of what we encounter both in the field and in our analyses, and make sense of through our favored theoretical lenses. But, how do these stories come to be told the way they are? What ordering happens in their telling? How do we make sense of the messiness in the telling? How do we go from mess to order?

In practice, we know that telling our organizational stories is not without its fair share of mess; indeed, we suggest that few are those amongst us who do not have to engage with mess. While we may allude to some of the mess in our writing, much of it is left out, hidden from view. Why? Is the mess that is entailed in the assembling, disassembling and reassembling that is part and parcel of crafting our ordered stories not worth our attention? It is as if the messiness of our craft is like the elephant in the room; we know it exists, but we don't wish to acknowledge it in our writing.

With both the above and the general theme as context, it is fitting that we should focus on reassembling organizational storytelling. Thus, we invite contributions that reflect one or more of the following or similar issues, which are by no means exhaustive:

  • How do we account for our field stories? For the stories we tell? How do we decide which stories to tell? What stories are left untold? And why?
  • How do we craft our stories in practice?
  • How do we respond when we confront messy stories, messy situations and messy findings?
  • How are research programs constructed in practice to engage with messiness and disorder? How are they maintained, challenged, stabilized?
  • How is access to the field negotiated in practice? What happens when access isn't possible? What happens when access initially granted is subsequently renegotiated or denied?
  • How are the challenges and limitations of research methods and conventions dealt with at the coalface? What new methods emerge? What tweaking or novel uses of existing methods happens and why?
  • What other problems arise in the course of doing research and how are they addressed?
  • How does language help/hinder us in constructing our stories? How do we overcome the limitations of language, particularly where we are interested in process organization stories?
  • How do we manage the politics of research? How does power affect the stories we tell and those that are silenced?
  • How do/can we account for our 'failures' in the field? How do/can we deal with our failures? Is it a matter of dealing with shifting assemblies? How do/can we (re)construct our research processes?
  • What do/can we learn from our tales of the field?

We anticipate that this sub-theme will be of particular interest to recently minted PhDs, whose stories from the field will be fresh in their minds. The sub-theme will also be of interest to those engaging in empirical work in general, who also reflect on the assembling of their stories of the organizational.


Paul Donnelly 
Yiannis Gabriel 
Banu Özkazanç-Pan