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Narrative and Numbers - Essay Example

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From anthropology to psychology, from history to pop culture, from journalism to advertising, narratives are seemingly everywhere. Regardless of its apparent visibility and diversity of applications, however, one must contextualize narratives to understand it in terms of corporate and organizational stories.
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Narrative and Numbers
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Download file to see previous pages Gabriel (2000), however, aims to make a distinction between narratives and stories. He emphatically argues that "not all narratives are stories", further stressing that "factual or objective accounts of events that aspire at objectivity rather than emotional effect must not be treated as stories." (p. 5)
In the context of organizational dynamics, Gabriel's definition of storytelling singles out "workplace folklores" that provide entertainment value, requiring interpretative plot and coherence. He alludes to these stories as metaphorical windows into an organization's character, culture, and politics. His framework focuses on narratives with a temporal (time) element, a spatial setting (place), a cast of characters, a plot involving conflict and resolution, and most importantly, a certain continuity.
Gabriel sees organizational stories as those that use literary narrative devices and motors to move a story forward. By molding the shape of the story and developing its structure, these devices basically manipulate the response of the reader or audience to the story. Because Gabriel believes that stories should be concerned with evoking emotional response rather than meaning, he asserts that organizational stories also focus on using narrative devices to elicit a particular response. Some of the examples used in organizational stories are: twists where the plot takes an unexpected turn; dialogue for stronger characterization; suspense or building the story to a point where the succeeding events are unknown and anticipated; effective description of tension or an atmosphere where conflicting ideas are created; and withholding key information to maximize suspense and tension. Using the voice of a narrator - which ranges from first to third voice - is also an effective tool. Other narrative motors and devices include: time transitions (such as flashbacks or foreshadowing); a diary or journal format; and even an epistolary format, or a story written in the form of a personal letter. Similarly, Gabriel believes that tropes also play an important role in dynamic organizational storytelling. A trope is a rhetorical figure of speech that consists of a play in words, expanding a conceptual framework through figurative language. The use of tropes (such as metaphor, metonymy, synecdoche, irony) in stories enables the storyteller to create impressions, organize experience, and create memories.
Viewed in this perspective, Gabriel's definition of "stories" excludes opinions, proto-stories, and reports. Gabriel insists that these snippets of pseudo-stories are actually non-stories because of their fragmented natures2 - that is, they do not employ the elements and devices of "stories" and are not dynamic enough to elicit a response.
In contrast, Boje (2001) believes that these fragments are essential as sense-making mechanisms within organizations. Therefore, organizational narratives are not "stories", but "antenarratives".(p. 1)
Boje's etymology of "antenarrative" has a dichotomous implication.
First, "ante" is a story before a narrative; i.e., a "pre-narrative". A narrative is something that adds coherence to the storyline; whereas an antenarrative is a story told before the narrative. "An antenarrative is ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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