"Playing back-spin balls": Narrating organizational change in construction
Journal article, 2012
What does change mean for organizational members? Although researchers have attempted to capture its intrinsic complexities, there remains uncertainty as to what change really is and how it happens. Drawing on a longitudinal interpretative case study of change in a large Swedish construction company, a narrative approach is used to elicit middle managers’ stories of change episodes over the past two decades. These stories have then been compared with the narratives of the same episodes in governing documents. We found that the lived and the formal narratives, respectively, depicted two very different interpretations and enactments of change: the former described a discontinuous process of discrete contingencies demanding immediate short-term responses whereas the latter described a proactive incremental strategic plan. A narrative approach to the study of organizational change contributes to deeper insights into the ramifications of an organization’s socio-cultural system by enabling the capture of significant variations, contradictions and tensions, both for organizational members and for the researchers who study change.