Intercultural Collaboration Stories: On Narrative Inquiry and Analysis as Tools for Research in International Business

Martine Cardel Gertsen, Anne-Marie Søderberg

    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


    The objective of this article is to show how narrative methods provide useful tools for international business research. We do this by presenting a study of stories told about the collaboration between a Danish expatriate manager and his Chinese CEO in the Shanghai subsidiary of an MNE. First, we explain and exemplify how narrative interviews are designed and conducted. In this connection, we consider the interviewers’ interaction with the interviewees, and clarify our reasons for focusing on the two selected interviews. Second, we demonstrate how narrative concepts and models are able to elucidate intercultural collaboration processes by analyzing how each member of a dyad of interacting managers narrates the same chain of events. We show how the narratological concepts of peripeteia and anagnorisis are well suited to identifying focal points in their stories: situations where change follows their recognizing new dimensions of their conflicts, eventually furthering their collaboration. We explain how Greimas's actantial model is valuable when mapping differences between and changes in the narrators’ projects, alliances and oppositions in the course of their interaction. Thus, we make it clear how they overcome most of their differences and establish common ground through mutual learning.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalJournal of International Business Studies
    Pages (from-to)787-804
    Publication statusPublished - 2011


    • Cross-Cultural Research
    • Cross-Cultural Management
    • China
    • Intercultural Collaboration
    • Narrative Interviewing
    • Narrative Analysis

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