Remembering who WE are - memories of identity through storytelling

Didde Maria Humle


This article contributes to the on-going debate among scholars of organizational identity on collective and polyphonic identity formation processes. The article explores the interplay between individual and organizational storytelling by conceptualizing organizational identity construction processes as a web of storytelling practices, a memory system evoking a sense of coherence and nostalgia among organizational members. By drawing on the results of a narrative and ethnographic case study of a consultancy, the article aims to unfold the web of stories and storytelling practices in a single case organization. The analysis explores how members of this organization, through their everyday storytelling practices, created shared understandings of being members of a fantastic company while simultaneously telling critical counterstories. The analysis shows how organizational members learned to shape not only their stories of success but also their counterstories in ways that made them harmonize with the storytelling traditions of the organization. Furthermore, the concept of personal polyphony is suggested to describe how everyday work stories are antenarrative in the sense that the construction of self, work and the organization is never finished; it is an ongoing process of negotiating and handling many potential and sometimes contradictory storylines simultaneously.


Narrative identity; storytelling practices; antenarrative storytelling

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