Appropriating the Past in Organizational Change Management: Abandoning and Embracing History

Henrik Koll, Astrid Jensen

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingBook chapterResearchpeer-review


This chapter offers an analysis of organizational change management in a Scandinavian telecom from a historical perspective. Based on an ethnographic study, we investigate how the past was appropriated by managers for the purpose of implementing performance management in the company’s operations department. By combining Bourdieusian theory with a narrative approach to analysis, the chapter provides an alternative view on the impact of history to organizational change management studies by bridging objective and subjective elements of history. This is achieved by illustrating how practice brings together two modes of existence of history in action - that is, how habitus and field dialectically adjust to each other while endowing actors with a “practical sense” that allows them to appropriate history in practice. We show how actors’ inclination to appropriate and narrate history in certain ways was itself a product of historical acquisition derived from their experience in the departmental field of struggle.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationTime, Temporality, and History in Process Organization Studies
EditorsJuliane Reinecke, Roy Suddaby, Ann Langley, Haridimos Tsoukas
Number of pages20
Place of PublicationOxford
PublisherOxford University Press
Publication date2021
ISBN (Print)9780198870715
ISBN (Electronic)9780192643711
Publication statusPublished - 2021
Externally publishedYes
SeriesPerspectives on Process Organization Studies


  • Organizational change management
  • History
  • Bourdieusian theory
  • Embodied narratives
  • Embedded narratives

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