This thesis examines the role of rhetoric and narratives in management. The broader objective of this research is to improve our understanding of the role of rhetoric and narratives in management practice. As rhetoric and narratives are typically invoked to create meaning in uncertain situations and to shape a possible path to the future, this broader objective will be subject to a detailed examination based on the following questions. What is the role of narratives in uncertain conditions? How do narratives facilitate change projects? ¿When are rhetoric and narratives needed in managerial work? The first paper, "Rhetoric and No Control, a New Managerial Function", suggests an answer to this question, using the concept of "stages of development" in problem formulation. For example, the statement "we want to find a cure for autoimmune diseases" would require rhetorical openness, as the precise activity that leads to a specific outcome is yet unclear. However, as the researchers work on persuading each other that a specific topic needs to be at focus, the scope of interpretations narrows, and, through rhetorical closure, a consensus on the problem at hand can be reached. In other words, the decision to engage in openness or closure is based on what stage the problem is at, concrete or abstract. ¿What is the role of narratives in uncertain conditions, such as change? To investigate this question, the second paper, "The Road Not Taken: The Narratives of Action and Organizational Change", compares two types of narratives regarding their approach to rhetorical openness. The first narrative type has a rigid and clear plot but leaves a certain degree of vagueness to the outcome, therefore, it might have a variety of endings. The second narrative type stresses on a clear and fixed ending, while keeping a vague description of the process, therefore maintaining the flexibility of the plot and its openness to interpretation. ¿How is a change project managed? The third paper in this dissertation titled: "The Tale of Two Cases: Expanding the Behaviour Approach to the Firm" takes advantage of two case studies from neighbouring countries and follows their internationalization path, in order to compare their rhetoric and narratives regarding the organizational structure and communication. Despite their geographical proximity, it is revealed that the two have fewer practices in common than expected. One of the most interesting contributions of this project, is viewing freedom to formulate future plans by means of narratives as an irreplaceable factor in organizations. Not only is it an undeniable need in the face of uncertainties of an ever-changing environment, but also it seems to be a human desire, as the individuals will strive for it in one way or another.

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Solouki , Zahara

Organization narratives for strategic change

04/2018
This thesis examines the role of rhetoric and narratives in management. The broader objective of this research is to improve our understanding of the role of rhetoric and narratives in management practice. As rhetoric and narratives are typically invoked to create meaning in uncertain situations and to shape a possible path to the future, this broader objective will be subject to a detailed examination based on the following questions. What is the role of narratives in uncertain conditions? How do narratives facilitate change projects? ¿When are rhetoric and narratives needed in managerial work? The first paper, "Rhetoric and No Control, a New Managerial Function", suggests an answer to this question, using the concept of "stages of development" in problem formulation. For example, the statement "we want to find a cure for autoimmune diseases" would require rhetorical openness, as the precise activity that leads to a specific outcome is yet unclear. However, as the researchers work on persuading each other that a specific topic needs to be at focus, the scope of interpretations narrows, and, through rhetorical closure, a consensus on the problem at hand can be reached. In other words, the decision to engage in openness or closure is based on what stage the problem is at, concrete or abstract. ¿What is the role of narratives in uncertain conditions, such as change? To investigate this question, the second paper, "The Road Not Taken: The Narratives of Action and Organizational Change", compares two types of narratives regarding their approach to rhetorical openness. The first narrative type has a rigid and clear plot but leaves a certain degree of vagueness to the outcome, therefore, it might have a variety of endings. The second narrative type stresses on a clear and fixed ending, while keeping a vague description of the process, therefore maintaining the flexibility of the plot and its openness to interpretation. ¿How is a change project managed? The third paper in this dissertation titled: "The Tale of Two Cases: Expanding the Behaviour Approach to the Firm" takes advantage of two case studies from neighbouring countries and follows their internationalization path, in order to compare their rhetoric and narratives regarding the organizational structure and communication. Despite their geographical proximity, it is revealed that the two have fewer practices in common than expected. One of the most interesting contributions of this project, is viewing freedom to formulate future plans by means of narratives as an irreplaceable factor in organizations. Not only is it an undeniable need in the face of uncertainties of an ever-changing environment, but also it seems to be a human desire, as the individuals will strive for it in one way or another.
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Organization narratives for strategic change
Solouki , Zahara
ESADE Business School

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