Kafka's Mythology: Organization, Bureaucracy and the Limits of Sensemaking

Iain Munro*, Christian Huber

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Franz Kafka merits special consideration among the writers of the 20th century for his portrayal of organizational life and the ambivalent character of the social institutions that ostensibly exist to help us. In this article we will draw on his works to enrich our understanding of organizations in three key respects: i) in terms of his creation of a mythology of organization; ii) by developing the concept of ‘counter-mythology’ to extend existing theory on narrative approaches to organization studies; and iii) drawing on these counter-mythologies to expose the limits of sensemaking in organizations. Using Kafka’s counter-mythologies as a framework, this analysis reveals a bias towards plausibility in the existing sensemaking literature, in contrast to which we suggest the development of more counterinductive approaches to the study of organization.
Original languageEnglish
JournalHuman Relations
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)523-543
Number of pages21
Publication statusPublished - 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Communication
  • Identity
  • Myth
  • Organizational culture
  • Organizational theory
  • Sensemaking

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