Meta-narratives LO249

Michael McMaster (
Sun, 26 Feb 1995 07:13:43 GMT

Replying to Mike ( --

Mike, in response to your request for article references to
meta-narrratives as support for bringing a "narrative approach
to corporate strategy":

I don't think mata-narrative work is what you want at least for
your specific request of designing new ones. What would meet my
reading of your request is assistance in conducting interative
dialogues via various mediums.

Meta-narratives are those unchallenged and unchallengeable
sentences, thoughts, beliefs which are running the show from
the background. I think what you want is narratives of
possbility. If that sounds right, they can be generated without
going back to the old foreground or background narratives.
(And the old may have to be dealt with in the natural course of
the narratives of possibility.

I'd look to Quaker, Native American and Budhist traditions for
some "ancient" assistance on how to generate these. I think
open space approaches, marketplace boards, iterative writing and
collage approaches could also be useful. Remember that strategy
can be emergent from the existing knowledge and understanding of
the organisation. (What I mean by that is to include each
individual and the systems and the interactions between all that
and what emerges as they are brought together.)

The greatest skill is to be able to listen. Listen to what is
trying to be said. Listen to what the organisation wants.
Listen to what life wants. And be able to speak from that from
time to time and, finally, to capture the essence of the
individual voices in an expression that reflects the above.

The specific meta-narrative request can only, in my experience
be fulfilled by books. I know of no articles. (And no place to
publish the one I might write.) There are journals, such as the
Journal of Organisational Change Management, that has special
issues that deal with postmodernism and organisation (one such
issue coming up in a few months) and books on postmodern
management that have sprinklings of useful stuff. The authors
that I can most recommend in the area are Lyotard and a book by
Best & Kellner, "Postmodern theory" which has some relatively
readable stuff about postmodernism - including the quote that
now goes with my signature.

I'll ask my philosophy mentor if there are some accessibel
readings specifically on meta-narratives. If I find them, I'll
post them.

I like the name that you are using for your approach to a
strategy process and document.

Mike McMaster      <>
"Postmodern society is the society of computers, information, 
scientific knowledge, advanced technology, and rapid change 
due to new advances in science and technology." Best & Kellner