On becoming irrelevant: An analysis of charity workers’ untold epic stories

Hamid Foroughi


While the nature, character and function of stories are variously theorized in organizational

storytelling literature, little research has tried to unpack how organizational narrative

domain may transform over time. Attending to the contextual transformation of

organizational story space can reveal how popular stories at one epoch could be

reformulated, ignored, or forgotten all together during another epoch. Drawing on

ethnographic data of a children’s charity in UK, which experienced a stage of rapid

professionalization, specialization, and bureaucratization, I examine the influence of this

restructuring initiative on the organizational narrative domain. It was shown that the

professionalization of the charity starved the old stories of the oxygen of relevance. The

memories of the old pioneers, from the days of stress and violence, became less welcome

as the organization turned increasingly managerial in character. The notion of ‘irrelevancy’

is further developed drawing on the work of Maurice Halbwachs, and its implications are

elaborated building on storytelling research. 


Storytelling; Untold Stories; Irrelevance; Organizational change; Halbwachs; Epic stories

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