The Role of Organisational Narrative in Continuity and Change of Organisations

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingBook chapterResearch


An organisational narrative involves the collective processes of sensemaking that create a perception of continuity, but also a feeling of direction towards new social realities and change. This chapter discusses the way a narrative is central to understanding organisations by connecting past, present and future and providing continuity, but simultaneously triggering new ideas and providing resources for change processes. Drawing on Ricoeur's theories about time and narrative, the chapter suggests ideas for how we can better conceptualise the relation between continuity and change. Ultimately, a narrative bridges continuity and change in a process of mutual constitution of what was and what can be. The provocative paradox in this notion is the apparent conservatism in continuity as opposed to the typical lack of regard for the past which is often part and parcel of organisational change projects. The chapter discusses how we can better understand the interdependence of continuity and change through the application of narrative theory and illustrates this possibility with the case of a Danish bank.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationA Research Agenda for Organisational Continuity and Change
EditorsTor Hernes, Miriam Feuls
Number of pages18
Place of PublicationCheltenham
PublisherEdward Elgar Publishing
Publication date2023
ISBN (Print)9781802200157
ISBN (Electronic)9781802200164
Publication statusPublished - 2023
SeriesElgar Research Agendas


  • Narrative theory
  • Change
  • Continuity
  • Time
  • Sensemaking
  • Ricoeur

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