A universe of stories: Mobilizing narrative practices during transformative change

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Title: A universe of stories: Mobilizing narrative practices during transformative change
Authors: Dalpiaz, E
Di Stefano, G
Item Type: Journal Article
Abstract: Research Summary: Constructing narratives of transformative change is an important but challenging practice through which strategy-makers attempt to influence acceptance of an ongoing transformation. To understand whether and how strategy-makers can construct a steady influx of captivating narratives of transformative change, we analyzed how one noted strategy-maker assisted the successful transformation of his organization over three decades by orchestrating the production of change narratives. Our analysis reveals that the strategy-maker constructed and reconstructed meanings of change over time using three sets of distinct but interconnected narrative practices. We develop a dynamic model linking the simultaneous mobilization of these practices to strategy-makers’ ability to harness the persistent tension between novelty and familiarity in a transformative change, and thereby, win endorsement from key audiences. Managerial Summary: How can storytelling be used to influence acceptance of an ongoing organizational transformation? In this article, we try to answer this question by examining how, over three decades, Italian company Alessi documented its transformation from a manufacturer of kitchen steel utensils to a producer of a variety of household objects purchased also for their symbolic value. The leader behind Alessi's transformation, Alberto Alessi, orchestrated such storytelling effort, targeting employees, customers, retailers, and visitors to Alessi exhibitions. Our findings uncover how stories can be used to win audiences’ endorsement of change through narrative practices aimed at: (a) constructing a collective memory of change, (b) depicting change as a novel but coherent departure from the past, and (c) portraying change as a transcendent endeavor.
Issue Date: 14-Dec-2017
Date of Acceptance: 24-Sep-2017
ISSN: 0143-2095
Publisher: Wiley
Start Page: 664
End Page: 696
Journal / Book Title: Strategic Management Journal
Volume: 39
Issue: 3
Copyright Statement: © 2017 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. This is the accepted version of the following article, which has been published in final form at
Keywords: Social Sciences
Business & Economics
strategic change
1503 Business And Management
1505 Marketing
Business & Management
Publication Status: Published
Appears in Collections:Imperial College Business School

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