Questions About Organizational Storytelling, Linguistic Sensemaking, Antenarrative?

David Boje is one of the leading scholars of organizational storytelling. I encountered large bodies of his work while in my PhD program, and I must admit it takes me an enormous amount of effort and brain power to wrap my head around his research and concepts. But he has a prodigious Web presence, so there’s no lack of material to try and understand.

One of the newest — or at least one that I have most recently come across — is StoryOrgs, described as a “Knowledge Sharing site where we explore the mysteries of organizational storytelling and linguistic sensemaking together.” The site is a place where folks can pose questions about Boje’s concepts. A few samples:

  • Does restory unearth submerged narrative/antenarrative patterns?
  • Derrida and deconstruction vs storytelling and antenarrative?
  • What academic pursuits have been facilitated by antenarrative based story analysis?
  • How do we explain zen koans in linguistic or antenarrative terms?
  • End and means, is an END an ANTEnarrative or not?
  • The limits of language and sensemaking?
  • What is NOT an antenarrative ?!?
  • Experimental methods for antenarrative research?
  • What is the difference between story and narrative?

The concept of “antenarrative” is one of Boje’s most significant contributions to organizational storytelling research. StoryOrgs clearly needs users to understand antenarrative and links to this explanation in its FAQs:

Antenarrative is defined as a ‘bet’ on shaping the future, and a ‘before’ a full blown stable narrative has been constructed.

For first use of term ‘antenarrative’ see: Boje, D. M. 2001. Narrative Methods for Organizational and Communication Research. London: Sage.

Antenarrative is defined as “non-linear, incoherent, collective, unplotted, and pre-narrative speculation, a bet, a proper retrospective narrative with Beginning, Middle, and End (BME) can be constituted” (Boje, 2001: 1). Antenarratives are “in the middle” and “in-between” (Boje, 2001: 293) refusing to attach linear BME coherence. Whereas, most BME narratives and narrative fragments are retrospective (backward-looking) antenarratives are more often prospective (forward-looking). BME Narratives must achieve coherence, developmental plots required by narrative theorists (Gabriel, 2000:20, 22; Czarniawska, 1997: 79, 98; 1998: vii, 2).

Routledge is releasing a book: Storytelling and the Future of Organizations: An Antenarrative Handbook, David M. Boje, Ph.D., Editor

StoryOrgs is characterized as being different from discussion boards and the like because:

  • It has a simple question-and-answer (Q&A) approach
  • Knowledge is naturally organized by a flexible, faceted tag-based topic system (folksonomy)
  • The system automatically protects the community from irresponsible online behaviors
  • It offers many social media features such as newsfeeds, alerts, profiles,