Narratives of organisational performances

Hervé Corvellec

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    Whereas management theory and practice tend to adopt an objectifying perspective and regard an organisation's performances literally as what the organisation achieves, I introduce in this paper a distinction between organisational life and the various accounts that are made of this life or its impacts on the organisation's environment. Reminding the reader that what is achieved within an organisation is, with rare exception, accessible to our understanding only through accounts that are made of these achievements, I suggest that it would be more correct to approach an organisation's performances as accounts rather than as objectified acts or results. Having redefined an organisation's performances as accounts, I then explore the structural qualities of performance accounts. I emphasise that they are narratives of achievements and that they are specific enough to constitute a genre. Turning thereafter toward the societal role of performance narratives as a genre, I introduce the conclusive argument of the paper. Taken together, the millions of performance narratives that management produces and consumes daily constitute a vast narrative fresco aimed at reassuring us that late modernity actually manages fulfil its promises of progress. Performance narratives, far from being politically neutral, keep the modernist dream afloat and contribute in a decisive manner to maintain the social order that is attached to it.

    FörlagDepartment of Business Studies, Kristianstad University College
    StatusPublicerad - 2002


    NamnWorking paper series
    ISSN (tryckt)1650-0636

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