The Organisational Life Cycle Narrative

Zinkstein, K. and Stevens, L. 2018. The Organisational Life Cycle Narrative. 18th International Conference on Knowledge, Culture and Change in Organizations. University of Konstanz, Germany 15 - 16 Mar 2018

TitleThe Organisational Life Cycle Narrative
AuthorsZinkstein, K. and Stevens, L.
TypeConference paper
Abstract

This paper links the research of organizational lifecycle with the organizational narratives. Some researchers suggest that storytelling organizations exist to tell and live out their collective stories and are constantly struggling with distinguishing between stories of insiders and outsiders. More recently, the emphasis has shifted to the sense-making perspective of organizations, such as dealing with mergers or organizational failures. Other studies address how narratives help to express desires and anxieties and convey emotions. Organization narratives also function to build organizational identification. The paper revolves around how organizational narratives reflect the identity of an organization among different stages of its lifecycle.
A qualitative study was conducted in the subsidiary (which employs 2000 people) of a large, German multi-national corporation in the automotive and industrial sector that employs 300,000 people. The participants were drawn from a cross section across all hierarchy levels Data was drawn from in-depth interviews conducted at all levels of the subsidiary. From these, forty-eight narratives were identified. A conceptual content analysis identified key motifs, and this resulted in four meta-themes: Enfant Terrible, Avant-Garde, Extra Mile and Family Cocoon.
In the discussion of the findings, it becomes clear that the narratives had a strong identity- shaping quality. Every narrative could be ascribed to a meta theme, a distinct ideology or even phase in identity development (related to the human life-cycle) both of the individual and indeed the organization itself. The stories of the enfant terrible and the avant-garde theme, of the early faces of the life cycle, turned out to be the richest and most identity shaping of organizations. They serving as anchors for identification and loyalty.

Keywordsorganisational life cycle, narratives, identity
Year2018
Conference18th International Conference on Knowledge, Culture and Change in Organizations
Web address (URL) of conference proceedingshttp://organization-studies.com/

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