CfP on History and Business Storytelling

Call for Papers on History and Business Storytelling

Volume Editor: Albert J. Mills (albert.mills@smu.ca)

  As part of the series “A World Scientific Encyclopedia of Business Storytelling” (edited by David Boje and Regents Professor), contributions are sought for a proposed volume on History and Business Storytelling (with a submissions delivery date of January 15, 2021).

In the words of David Boje, the overall series seeks “to extend new theories of prospective sensemaking, quantum storytelling (how humans are connected to the environment, not separate), and the relation of narrative-counter narrative dialectics to dialogic webs of multiplicity.” To that end, the series seeks “new business story paradigms that go beyond mere social constructivism, short-term shareholder wealth maximization, and disembodied textual narratives to the work in embodiment, critical accounts for the voiceless and marginalized, socioeconomic storytelling for socially responsible capitalism, and true storytelling principles as an alternative to fake news and fake leadership that infects the old business storytelling paradigm.” Boje and Rosile (in press) are attempting to bring together a critical ‘Storytelling Science’ paradigm.

At first sight it may appear that business and storytelling are two very different endevours; one involving a series of activities to produce services, products, profits, etc., and the other involving the use of tales to explain and make sense of innumerable social activities (Weick, 1995). More often than not, the two are aligned as those involved in business activities seek to explain and support those activities. Examples at the individual level include stories of the `self-made’ man (sic), the characteristics of the successful entrepreneur (Weber, 1967), the transformational leader (Mittal & Dhar, 2015), etc. At the company level examples include corporate histories of successful activities that explain how the company has remained in business over time and the use of artefacts of the past to lend a sense of history to the company’s operations (Corke, 1986; Gunn, 1985). At the industry (or field) level there are accounts that serve to explain such things as the link between strategy (Chandler, 1977), other practices (Pugh & Hickson, 1976; Woodward, 1958) and organizational survival, legitimacy, efficiencies, etc., (DiMaggio & Powell, 1983). And at the overall socio-economic level there are numerous accounts valuing the economic, political, and philosophical outcomes of capitalism (Burnham, 1941; Chandler, 1984; Drucker, 1939, 1942; Fukuyama, 2006).

Although not uncontested, these various tales of business have collectively served over time to privilege for-profit organizations (Donaldson, 1985; McQuaid, 1994) as the model of economic organization, philosophy, and politics (Drucker, 1947); as the primary and favoured form of organizing economic life (Drucker, 1939); as the main or only legitimate form of organization control and management (Hayek, 1944). In the process business and capitalism became interwoven in ways that cast owner (Marx, 1999), manager (Burnham, 1941), employee (Jacques, 1996) and the market (Burns & Stalker, 1961) as central forms of organizational activity and thought (Bendix, 1974). It has not also shaped the character of business activity but the characters at the heart of those activities, namely, white, upper-class, Western men (Acker, 1990; Jacques, 1997; Prasad, 2012).

Beneath, in tandem with, and/or a reflection on, tales from the field of business there has been another formidable set of stories that has helped to shape the notion of business; namely, the field of business studies (Khurana, 2007). Arguably, the development of business studies as a field of enquiry not only reproduced tales from the field but drew on it to define business studies as a specific area of scientific enquiry; one linked to the professionalization of the business manager (Khurana, 2007). In the process, the field of business studies largely excluded alternative modes of organizing (Foster, Mills, & Weatherbee, 2014; Parker, 2002; Weick, 1995).  Paradoxically, in the quest for scientific legitimacy (Khurana, 2007), one of the most successful attempts to teach business studies has been the advent of the Harvard University case study method (Copeland, 1958; McDonald, 2017). Here we have an essentially fictional account of a business problem written in a way that is presented to the reader (the potential manager) as a `real life’ situation with scientifically established behavioural outcomes. Regardless of how it was intended, the central character is more-often-than-not presented as a white male who is primarily interested in profitability, efficiency and the bottom line. In other words, it is not only scenarios that are constructed but people who are privileged, ignored and/or marginalized.

In much of these accounts of business, history – either implicitly or explicitly – is drawn on for support and legitimacy (Rowlinson & Hassard, 1993). This ranges from corporate histories of selected businesses (Smith, 1986) or classes of business (Wilkins, 1974) through to histories of the field (George, 1968; Khurana, 2007; Urwick, 1956; Wren, 1972). Over recent years there have been calls not only for more historical analyses in management and organization studies (Clark & Rowlinson, 2004) but also for greater discussion of historical methods (Booth & Rowlinson, 2006; Bowden, 2016, 2018), opening up possibilities for new narratives of business (Cummings, Bridgman, Hassard, & Rowlinson, 2017; Durepos & Mills, 2012; Williams & Mills, 2017).

This volume on ‘History and Business Storytelling’ will provide insights into stories fostering the idea of business, including, but not limited to:

  • the relationship between historical methods and business storytelling (Cummings et al., 2017)
  • the processes through which certain business stories are developed  (Durepos, 2015)
  • revisiting classic tales (Hassard, 2012)
  • re-envisioning the field through alternative narratives (Foster et al., 2014)
  • uses and abuses of storytelling in business (Suddaby, Foster, & Trank, 2010)
  • business narratives and voices from the South (Prasad, 2003)
  • Historical methods as business narratives (White, 1987)
  • Antenarratives  (Boje, 2010)
  • Case studies as narratives of business (Raufflet & Mills, 2009)
  • Business studies as tales of the field (Van Maanen, 1988)
  • Business storytelling and gendered narration (Calás & Smircich, 1996)
  • Business storytelling and intersectional characterization (Brah & Phoenix, 2004)
  • Narratives as organization (Czarniawska & Gagliardi, 2003)
  • Business archives as storytelling cache’s (Decker, 2013)

 

Chapters should explore stories/narratives used in the process of producing the idea of business. There is no methodological preference for this chapter and authors may use any forms of method ranging from positivist (Bowden, 2018)  to postmodernist (Boje, 1995).      

Submissions should be no more than thirty pages, double spaced, times new roman 12 font, with one-inch margins.  All questions regarding chapters should be directed to Albert J. Mills, volume editor (albert.mills@smu.ca). 

Proposals for chapters should be no more than three double spaced pages and are due on May 22, 2019.   

 

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Boje, D. M. (2010). Narrative Analysis. In A. J. Mills, G. Durepos, & E. Wiebe (Eds.), Sage Encyclopedia of Case Study Research (Vol. II, pp. 591-594). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Boje, D. M.; Rosile, G. A. (in press). Download at https://www.dropbox.com/sh/bd297r9f6lhgjeh/AAChF7KdZH7hvz3aGIySrTJwa?dl=0

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Brah, A., & Phoenix, A. (2004). Ain’t I a woman? Revisiting intersectionality. Journal of International Women’s Studies, 5(3), 75-86.

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Cummings, S., Bridgman, T., Hassard, J., & Rowlinson, M. (2017). A New History of Managment. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

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Decker, S. (2013). The silence of the archives: business history, post-colonialism and archival ethnography. Management & Organizational  History, 8(2), 155-173.

DiMaggio, P. J., & Powell, W. (1983). The Iron cage revisited: Institutional Isomorphism and Collective Rationality in Organizational Fields. American Sociological Review, 48, 147-160.

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Drucker, P. F. (1947). Big business : a study of the political problems of American capitalism. London , Toronto: W. Heinemann ltd.

Durepos, G. (2015). ANTi-History: toward amodern histories. In P. G. McLaren, A. J. Mills, & T. G. Weatherbee (Eds.), The Routledge Companion to Management and Organizational History (pp. 153-180). London: Routledge.

Durepos, G., & Mills, A. J. (2012). ANTi-History: Theorizing the Past, History, and Historiography in Management and Organizational Studies. Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing

Foster, J., Mills, A. J., & Weatherbee, T. G. (2014). History, field definition and management studies: the case of the New Deal. Journal of Management History, 20(2), 179-199.

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Hassard, J. (2012). Rethinking the Hawthorne Studies: The Western Electric research in its social, political and historical context. Human Relations, 65(11), 1431-1461. doi:10.1177/0018726712452168

Hayek, F. (1944). The Road to Serfdom. London: Routledge.

Jacques, R. (1996). Manufacturing the Employee: Management Knowledge from the 19th to 21st Centuries. London: Sage.

Jacques, R. (1997). The Unbearable Whiteness of Being: Reflections of a Pale, Stale Male. In P. Prasad, A. J. Mills, M. Elmes, & A. Prasad (Eds.), Managing the Organizational Melting Pot: Dilemmas of Workplace Diversity (pp. 80-106). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Khurana, R. (2007). From Higher Aims To Hired Hands. The Social Transformation of American Business Schools and the Unfulfilled Promise of Management as a Profession. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

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Mittal, S., & Dhar, R. (2015). Transformational leadership and employee creativity. Management Decision, 53(5), 894-910.

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Prasad, A. (Ed.) (2003). Postcolonial Theory and Organizational Analysis: A Critical Engagement. London: Palgrave.

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Pugh, D. S., & Hickson, D. J. (1976). Organisational Structure in its Context: the Aston Programme I. London: Saxon House.

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Wilkins, M. (1974). The Maturing of Multinational Enterprise. American Business Abroad from 1914 to 1970. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Williams, K. S., & Mills, A. J. (2017). Frances Perkins: gender, context and history in the neglect of a management theorist. Journal of Management History, 23(1), 32-50. doi:10.1108/jmh-09-2016-0055

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