Sub-theme 31: The marriage of story and metaphor: Power couple or marriage of convenience?

Yiannis Gabriel
Royal Holloway University of London, UK
Daniel Geiger
Johannes Kepler University Linz, Austria
Hugo Letiche
Humanistics University of Utrecht, The Netherlands

Call for Papers

Stories and metaphors are currently widely discussed by scholars of organizations. This is due, in part, to the increased interest in organizational discourse and the linguistic turn in organization studies which opened a wide range of new possibilities, once scholars focused their attention to organizational texts and narratives (or organizations as texts). Stories and metaphors, however, are capable of generating passion and excitement in their own right. They are both discursive formations with which we are capable of falling in love and being passionate about. We easily fall in love with our stories; this is clear from the ease with which we take offence in people who violate, ignore or misinterpret our stories. We also fall in love with metaphors, especially when we discover their ability to unlock different situations or to help us make sense of different opaque or complex situations. But we also know that stories and metaphors have the potential to upset organizational members or hamper innovation and change. Literature on both metaphors and stories in their different organizational applications has grown extensively in the last twenty years.

What is less widely explored is the relation between metaphor and story. Story is usually linked to narrative while metaphor is linked to rhetoric. This is even more surprising since many stories are full of metaphorical expressions and, conversely, many metaphors can be unpacked into stories and allegories. Both stories and metaphors require a certain flight of imagination above the literal and the factual. This is what makes them both memorable and also persuasive; it is also what makes them vital devices in unlocking passion, creativity and spawning innovation.

We invite you to submit papers to a stream that will explore the meeting of stories and metaphors in a space of passion – passion for knowledge, passion for innovation, passion for change and passion for power. We are interested in papers that demonstrate and discuss the imaginative potential of stories and metaphors and their inter-relationships, but also in critical reflections and empirical examples revealing the problematic side of stories and metaphors with regards to passion and innovation. In particular, we invite articles in the following areas (but not limited to):

  • The use of metaphors and stories in stimulating creativity, innovation and enthusiasm in organizations
  • The use metaphors and stories in organizational sense-making – the way that both metaphors and stories can become the basis to "living by", becoming embedded in identities
  • The move from metaphor to story and from story to metaphor as part of a research methodology in organization studies
  • The use of stories and metaphors as part of official organizational discourses, and conversely the contestation and subversion of such discourses with anti-stories and counter-metaphors
  • Examples of communicative disorder and misunderstanding as a result of stories and metaphors linked to innovation and change
  • The "dark side" of stories and metaphors in hampering and suppressing creativity and passion

We welcome engagements with the concepts of metaphor and stories that address the passion for innovation and creativity as well as critical reflections on the problematic side of stories and metaphors in relation to innovation and change.

Yiannis Gabriel 
Daniel Geiger 
Hugo Letiche