Narrative and Numbers

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From anthropology to psychology, from history to pop culture, from journalism to advertising, narratives are seemingly everywhere. Regardless of its apparent visibility and diversity of applications, however, one must contextualize narratives to understand it in terms of corporate and organizational stories.


Gabriel (2000), however, aims to make a distinction between narratives and stories. He emphatically argues that "not all narratives are stories", further stressing that "factual or objective accounts of events that aspire at objectivity rather than emotional effect must not be treated as stories." (p. 5)
In the context of organizational dynamics, Gabriel's definition of storytelling singles out "workplace folklores" that provide entertainment value, requiring interpretative plot and coherence. He alludes to these stories as metaphorical windows into an organization's character, culture, and politics. His framework focuses on narratives with a temporal (time) element, a spatial setting (place), a cast of characters, a plot involving conflict and resolution, and most importantly, a certain continuity.
Gabriel sees organizational stories as those that use literary narrative devices and motors to move a story forward. By molding the shape of the story and developing its structure, these devices basically manipulate the response of the reader or audience to the story. Because Gabriel believes that stories should be concerned with evoking emotional response rather than meaning, he asserts that organizational stories also focus on using narrative devices to elicit a particular response. ...
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