Finding a Space for Story: Sensemaking, Stories and Epistemic Impasse

Abstract : The current study explores the role of stories in organizational sensemaking processes. Rather than positioning stories as one among many different sensemaking mechanisms, it is argued that stories allow a particular kind of sensemaking that is inherently openended, distinguishing it from theoretical and propositional explanations for organizational phenomena. Drawing on previous Foucaultian discussions of epistemes, I introduce the notions of epistemic impasse and epistemic spillover, arguing that cross-functional interaction can cause tensions between incompatible epistemic bases, and that stories can act as a mechanism to overcome such tensions. I illustrate this mechanism in an ethnographic, participant-observer study of a university student-support center, showing how storytelling led to an increasingly open although ultimately totalizing tendency within the center, thus demonstrating both the potentials and limits of using stories within organizations.
Document type :
Journal articles
Complete list of metadatas

Cited literature [37 references]  Display  Hide  Download

http://hal.grenoble-em.com/hal-00969278
Contributor : Magali Michel <>
Submitted on : Wednesday, April 2, 2014 - 12:16:23 PM
Last modification on : Wednesday, September 11, 2019 - 4:49:17 PM
Long-term archiving on: Wednesday, July 2, 2014 - 11:56:04 AM

File

Sensemaking_wp.pdf
Files produced by the author(s)

Identifiers

Collections

Citation

Gazi Islam. Finding a Space for Story: Sensemaking, Stories and Epistemic Impasse. Journal of Organizational Change Management, Emerald, 2013, 26 (1), pp.29-48. ⟨10.1108/09534811311307897⟩. ⟨hal-00969278⟩

Share

Metrics

Record views

548

Files downloads

592