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This study explores how individuals understand and make meaning of their experiences while in the midst of radical organizational change. Empirical materials for this research were obtained though written stories and interviews of two groups of managers within the Canadian public sector who were themselves in the throes of organizational change. The findings of this study were analyzed through a three-dimensional-narrative-inquiry-space framework.
The results of this study (a) support the postmodernist notion of a recursive relationship between metaphors and stories, and (b) between metaphors/stories and experiences, namely that they dialectically inform, structure and maintain the other. It was also discovered that 7 key variables moderated the relationship between expressions and experience. These variables are linked to 4 categories, namely, cognition, internal beliefs, relationships, and language.
The findings of this study suggest that the success of managing change is directly related to the ability of leaders to attend to the problem of the interconnectedness between cybernetics and interpretive paradigms. The scholarly need to address this problem was in direct response to the predominant tendency among scholars and change practitioners to focus exclusively on either one of the two approaches. Accordingly, the call to scholars and practitioners to shift from systems to stories is grounded in the need to shift from the cognitive tyranny of either-or to the genius of the and . Narrative inquiry is well aligned to promoting the cognitive genius of the and as a strategic tradition of inquiry.