Sub-theme 52: Organizational Storytelling Futures: Using History to Enable Becoming --> HYBRID!

Convenors:
Rohny Saylors
Washington State University, USA
Kenneth Mølbjerg Jørgensen
Malmö University, Sweden
Yue Cai Hillon
Western Carolina University, USA

Call for Papers


To date the role of storytelling futures in drawing on history to enable becoming is not well understood, both in theoretical and empirical terms; nor are there any ready-made solutions for facilitating such imaginative storytelling that fosters research focused on becoming. Thus, we call for studies that help break through the “interesting” and “conversation” barriers to work that recast legacy and contemporary demands that have led to the super wicked problems faced by the impoverished, the marginalized, and those who suffer most both from climate-change and from climate change initiatives. Work along these lines integrates a futural sense of history (Boje, Haley & Saylors, 2016; Suddaby et al., 2020; Bansal et al., 2022; Suddaby, Foster & Quinn-Trank, 2010; Suddaby & Foster, 2006; Rindova & Martins, 2022; Suddaby et al.,  2021; Kreiner et al., 2015; Ravasi, Rindova, & Stigliani, 2019). Further this sub-theme, invites approaches that address counter-narratives (Bamberg & Andrews, 2004, Boje et al., 2016; Frandsen, Kuhn, & Lundholt, 2016), ante-narratives (Boje, 2011; Boje et al., 2016), dialectical storytelling (Boje, 2018), performative storytelling (Arendt, 2013; Butler, 2015; Saylors, Lahiri, Warnick & Baid, 2021), true storytelling (Larsen, Brunn, & Boje, 2020), and the like.
 
We aim to encourage research on storytelling about futures that includes researchers themselves as part of imagining new ways to organize against powers that are driving global society through poverty, pestilence, and the plundering of our futures. Initially, “storytelling” was used in a narrow way to explore the ways people engage in narrative-telling within organizations (Gabriel, 2000). More recent research has proffered storytelling theory as an embodied, emotional, elaboration of the cognitivist perspective that communication is constitutive of organizations (Lundholt & Boje, 2018). Another important element of organizational storytelling is a post-humanist understanding of history and becoming. Taking the planet itself as valuable in and of itself, and taking extinction level events as the tragic death of a billion-year evolutionary line, we see that we must imagine new ways of becoming that include more than human interest. Specifically, recent historical research (McLaren, Mills & Weatherbee, 2015) has sought a future that moves beyond humanistic history (Boje & Saylors, 2015: 203).
 
Thus, storytelling about futures that use history to enable becoming can be enabled by studies of inclusivity in sensemaking (Weick, 2012), enchantment (Ganzin, Suddaby & Minkus, 2019), power and subjectivity (Jørgensen, 2017) history-telling (Boje, Haley & Saylors, 2016; Suddaby et al., 2020; Bansal et al., 2022). Seen from such perspectives inclusive storytelling reaches beyond western narratives and can imagine new ways to thrive with voices which proffer indigenous ways of knowing (Cajete, 2015; Hoskins & Jones, 2017; Pepion, 2016; Rosile, 2016; Twotrees & Kolan, 2016).
 
Becoming can be enabled through storytelling about the future. Such imaginative storytelling can draw on history and “seeks to identify dominant narratives and to change them in a practical, useful way” (Rosile et al., 2013: 562). The goal of such imaginative storytelling is ethno-theoretical, specifically to find the qualitative basis of theoretical knowledge that upholds systems of exclusion and inequity. Given the epistemological and axiological commitments of many organizational scholars, we have an opportunity to tell stories of new futures, futures which draw on history as a way to imagine new ways of becoming. In this way inclusive storytelling helps avoid alienating lived experiences by breaking through abstract categories to imagine how organizational scholarship can enable a good life.
 
With this sub-theme, we want to encourage research that denies the legitimacy of organizational theorizing when it treats potential futures as abstract sociological categories rather than lived experiences. The aim is to develop the necessary theoretical and empirical groundwork around the lived experiences of those for whom the future of organizing is problematic. The failure of organizational scholarship to draw on history to reorganize potential futures has led to the structure recreation of inequitably treatment. Thus we seek to enable truly inclusive organizational theorizing around storytelling futures that enable becoming (Steyaert, 2007; McMullen & Dimov, 2013; Hjorth et al., 2018; Johnsen & Holt, 2021; Lane & Kibler, 2022; Reuber, 2016; Garud, Gehman & Giuliani, 2018; Salmivaara & Kibler, 2020).
 
We invite conceptual and empirical submissions drawing on a range of theoretical perspectives and diverse story-focused methodologies. The following topic areas highlight exemplary questions and research themes:

  • Theory development: What storytelling about the future enables organizations to become inclusive and equitable; what stories and underlying assumptions are these researchers enacting? What new stories could explain the same findings, but do so in a way that no longer excuses exclusion or crates inequality? What are the drivers, outcomes and boundary conditions of using history to enable becoming?

  • Empirical research: How can we help uncover the silencing of imaginative stories in organizations and its impact on creating a good life? What are the conditions that contribute to the half-measures of inclusivity that act to exclude, like the UNs “reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation”?

  • Including responsibility for colonialization: How can we achieve full indigenous sovereignty and complete recognition of the right to self-determination? How can organizational theory be re-told with imaginative storytelling to lead governments to protect native rights to a good life by protecting their land, water, food, health care, social issues, housing, and so on?

  • Incorporating recent societal developments: How can militaries across the world be de-funded? What can be done to offset the traditional use of the military to employ “surplus people” and instead include these traumatized state-owned wage-slaves in a post-military society?

  • New forms of telling imaginative stories: Under what conditions can new forms of inclusive storytelling emerge? How can inclusive storytelling contribute to solving sustainable development challenges? How can existing inclusive storytelling practices be improved to better enable actual change?

  • Meta-reflexivity and ethics of storytelling research: How can storytelling scholars work reflexively and ethically with their own underlying assumptions and methods? Which stories or voices do we as storytelling scholars enable and which might we be disabling and excluding? What are the horizons of overcoming exclusion and inequality? How do we give voice to those we seek to emancipate from the neoliberal, capitalistic and growth-oriented ideologies? How do we avoid the pitfall of the emancipatory – pushing our ideals of emancipation on to research participants to achieve own interests?

 


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Rohny Saylors is an Assistant Professor of Entrepreneurship at the Carson College of Business at Washington State University, USA. His research is focused on entrepreneurial storytelling processes and methods. Rohny’s passion is the advancement of human creativity, hope, and authentic compassion through, and within, organizational scholarship. He has published in ‘Organizational Research Methods’, ‘Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice’, and ‘Human Relations’. Rohny is most well-known for arguing that entrepreneurship is storytelling.
Kenneth Mølbjerg Jørgensen is a Professor of Organization Studies at Malmö University, Sweden. He is particularly interested in storytelling, ethics, learning and power in organizations, as well as in sustainability, inclusion and the relations between technology and social change. Kenneth’s current writings focus on developing a terrestrial ethics based on the notion of story making developed from particularly Arendt’s and Latour’s writings.
Yue Cai Hillon is Professor of Management in the College of Business at Western Carolina University, USA. Her upper-level courses are built around consulting projects with regional businesses and non-profit organizations for a shared learning experience that contributes to economic and community development. Beyond teaching and research, Yue is actively engaged in community development projects, serving on non-profit boards and assisting organizations with strategic planning and management consulting.