Penn State

Jo Tyler - associate professor of training and development, Penn State Harrisburg

Book Title: Narrative Methods for Organizational & Communication Research

Author: David M. Boje

Book Description:

When I first began to explore the dynamics of stories and storytelling in organization settings, most of the literature treated stories as tools conscripted by us into service. The primary discourse around narrative analysis at that time — still popular today — was that it was perfectly okay to dismember and reconstitute stories of others into some composite narrative a la Frankenstein's monster — a sort of undead conglomeration that in its effort to be everyone's story was actually, in the end, no one's. David Boje stood apart from this field of voices with his proposition of living stories, distinct from narrative. If the stories were living, he contended, then traditional approaches to narrative analysis were not an appropriate way to work with them.


His position echoed my own intuition that stories deserved more care, and could only really be understood as highly contextualized whole cloth. As an emerging scholar, David, his work, and this seminal book in particular, blazed a trail for me. This and David's subsequent works continue to reflexively challenge my ideas and substantiate my instincts to forge ahead in the weird, wide, wonderful world of stories, narrative, telling, and listening between and among humans. The work of David Boje makes me smarter every time I read it. It never wears thin even, as in this case, a decade after its release. There is always something more to notice and that, to me, is a hallmark of scholarly excellence.


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