|Title||The use of Fiction in Management Research: The Journey of Ulysses|
|Authors||Knowles, D., Hindley, C. and Ruth, D.|
An influential account of the use of fiction in management studies was published 20 years ago (Phillips, 1995). Since then the field has burgeoned with studies on particular writers (e.g. McCabe, 2014; De Cock, 2000), particular sites (e.g., McCabe, 2014), and particular phenomena (e.g., Patient, Lawrence and Maitlis, 2003) and particular forms (Holt and Zundel, 2014). With this paper we extend De Cock and Land’s (2005) inquiry into how organization and literature are co-articulating and interdependent concepts using Joyce’s Ulysses to advance the claim that “literary fiction can reveal important truths about organizational life without recourse to the representation of factual events” (Munro, and Huber, 2012:525). Specifically, we compare and contrast Joyce’s work with the myth and its inherent properties of ambiguity, identity and power. Myths are accepted as containing some truth but existing in many forms: one definitive version is not to be found. Joyce does not offer a finished story, a ‘how to’ handbook of takeaways, but an incomplete journey that requires our own interpretations. In Ulysses, Joyce confronts the reader with the everyday world of Dublin and its array of relationships and organizations. Joyce’s use of the everyday and ordinary provide an insight into the ‘lived’ world and the ‘management’ of real, lived experiences. At the time of publication Ulysses shocked people by what Kiberd (1992) refers to as its ‘ordinariness’. Too often management knowledge is presented as stable information which fails to impart management as difficult-to-interpret, lived experience. Joyce documents a major shift in our understanding of time and place, and management research is catching up. We are beginning to understand that the coherence of organizational life is something we make up as we go along. We are sense-making as we organize. Our organizations are sense-making devices. They are rhetorical acts. Literature helps to restore what the professional-scientific literature necessarily omits or slights: the concrete, the sensual, the emotional, the subjective, the valuational’ (Waldo, 1968). We interpret Ulysses as a critique of the modernist understanding of management and organization and show how it offers an alternative to traditional forms of research.
|Keywords||business and management , the novel, fiction, organization studies, research methods|
|Conference||European Conference on Methodology in Business and Management Studies|
|Accepted author manuscript|