Business organisations explicitly value "hard" knowledge that can be classified, categorized, calculated, analyzed, etc., practical know-how (explicit and tacit) and know-who (social connections). In contrast, storytelling employs ancient means of passing wisdom and culture through informal stories and anecdotes. The narrative is said to be more "synthetic" than "analytic", and help to: share norms and values, develop trust and commitment, share tacit knowledge, facilitate unlearning, and generate emotional connections. Storytelling is an ingredient to make an idea "stick".
While storytelling is a key ingredient in great advertising, organizational storytelling caters to a very different audience. It deals with human beings in organizations connecting, engaging and inspiring other stakeholders using stories and story structures in their communication.
Giroux and Marroquin distinguish five perspectives in writings on organizational storytelling:
The functionalist perspective sees storytelling as a management tool. It considers a top-down communication (for example, the communication of a boss to his employees), and aims at the efficiency of the transmission. As such, the narration must be brief and consistent with objectives.
 However, strategic ambiguity is sometimes not a bug, but a feature.
The interpretative perspective considers the organization as a subjective universe that the researcher can only grasp through the representations that the actors summon in their narrations. The narratives then bear both the central values and culture of the organization and the differences, conflicts and contradictions. Thus, officially promoted values are confronted with those that emerge from the narratives. There have been attempts to develop institutional interpretative devices by combining insights from anthropology, literary theory and institutionalism, for example. Antenarrative tries to link retrospective narrative to a living story.
The process perspective, following the work of Karl E. Weick, considers the organization not as a fixed entity but as an organising process that emphasises the interactions and co-construction. The researchers then study the narratives in situations of organizational change, controversy or deliberation. This perspective postulates that actors demonstrate a narrative intelligence, which refers to their "ability to produce and understand stories".
The critical perspective emphasizes the asymmetrical relationships within organizations. The narration can be used to "create a culture of submission". The critical feminist prospective focuses on gender differences, revealing how they are created, nurtured, conveyed and challenged by narratives.
The postmodern perspective, which is the most recent and controversial, sees society and organization as fragmented. It places textuality at the center of the researcher's approach, and promotes the polyphony of speech. The researcher becomes a narrator by giving a voice to marginalized employees.
^ abcdefgNicole Giroux and Lissette Marroquin, "L'approche narrative des organisations", Revue française de gestion, 2005/6, No 159, pp.15-42, ISSN 0338-4551.
^Deborah Sole, Daniel Gray Wilson, "Storytelling in Organizations: The power and traps of using stories to share knowledge in organizations", Learning Innovation Laboratory (LILA), Harvard University, retrieved from LILA Harvard University Web site [www.providersedge.com] on 2017-12-26.
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