Volume 34, Issue 1
  • ISSN 1387-6740
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9935
Buy:$35.00 + Taxes



Organisational identity may be understood as the result of communication processes, e.g. in the form of narratives and stories, that continuously intertwine and compete for the right to define the organisation (Boje, 1995Humle & Frandsen, 2017). This understanding forms the background of the article which analyses the narrative struggles in a local Danish airport whose collective identity was challenged in light of organisational changes that led to a large and dispersed organisation. Combining positioning theory (Davies & Harré, 19901999) with close linguistic analysis, data from a focus group interview are analysed, showing that through stories and narratives, top-management and staff members construct several positions along a cline that make it possible to achieve consensus across organisational levels and divisions. Furthermore, the article argues for analysing participants’ linguistic choices in detail to come closer to how participants do positioning work.


Article metrics loading...

Loading full text...

Full text loading...


  1. Alvesson, M., & Willmott, H.
    (2002) Identity regulation as organizational control: Producing the appropriate individual. Journal of Management Studies, 391, 619–644. 10.1111/1467‑6486.00305
    https://doi.org/10.1111/1467-6486.00305 [Google Scholar]
  2. Andrews, M.
    (2004) Opening to the original contributions: Counter-narratives and the power to oppose. InM. Bamberg, & M. Andrews (Eds.), Considering counter-narratives: Narrating, resisting, making sense (pp.1–6). John Benjamins. 10.1075/sin.4.02and
    https://doi.org/10.1075/sin.4.02and [Google Scholar]
  3. Ashcraft, K.
    (2007) Appreciating the ‘work’ of discourse: Occupational identity and difference as organizing mechanisms in the case of commercial airline pilots. Discourse & Communication, 1(1), 9–36. 10.1177/1750481307071982
    https://doi.org/10.1177/1750481307071982 [Google Scholar]
  4. Bamberg, M.
    (1997) Positioning between structure and performance. Journal of Narrative and Life History, 7(1–4), 335–342. 10.1075/jnlh.7.42pos
    https://doi.org/10.1075/jnlh.7.42pos [Google Scholar]
  5. (2011) Who am I? Narration and its contribution to self and identity. Theory & Psychology, 21(1), 3–24. 10.1177/0959354309355852
    https://doi.org/10.1177/0959354309355852 [Google Scholar]
  6. (2012) Narrative practice and identity navigation. InJ. A. Holstein, & J. F. Gubrium (Eds.), Varieties of narrative analysis (pp.99–124). Sage. 10.4135/9781506335117.n6
    https://doi.org/10.4135/9781506335117.n6 [Google Scholar]
  7. Bamberg, M., & Andrews, M.
    (Eds.) (2004) Considering counter-narratives: Narrating, resisting, making sense. John Benjamins. 10.1075/sin.4
    https://doi.org/10.1075/sin.4 [Google Scholar]
  8. Bamberg, M., & Georgakopoulou, A.
    (2008) Small stories as new perspective in narrative and identity analysis. Text & Talk, 28(3), 377–396. 10.1515/TEXT.2008.018
    https://doi.org/10.1515/TEXT.2008.018 [Google Scholar]
  9. Barbour, R.
    (2007) Doing focus groups. Sage. 10.4135/9781849208956
    https://doi.org/10.4135/9781849208956 [Google Scholar]
  10. Benwell, B., & Stokoe, E.
    (2006) Discourse and identity. Edinburgh University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  11. Boje, D.
    (1995) Stories of the storytelling organization: A postmodern analysis of Disney as “Tamara-land”. Academy of Management Journal, 38(4), 997–1035.
    [Google Scholar]
  12. (2001) Narrative methods for organizational & communication research. Sage. 10.4135/9781849209496
    https://doi.org/10.4135/9781849209496 [Google Scholar]
  13. (2006) Breaking out of narrative’s prison: Improper story in storytelling organization. Story, Self, Society: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Storytelling Studies, 2(2), 28–49.
    [Google Scholar]
  14. (2008) Storytelling organizations. Sage.
    [Google Scholar]
  15. Brown, A.
    (1997) Narcissism, identity and legitimacy. Academy of Management Review, 221, 643–686. 10.5465/amr.1997.9708210722
    https://doi.org/10.5465/amr.1997.9708210722 [Google Scholar]
  16. (2006) A narrative approach to collective identities. Journal of Management Studies, 43(4), 731–753. 10.1111/j.1467‑6486.2006.00609.x
    https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-6486.2006.00609.x [Google Scholar]
  17. Cheshire, J. & Ziebland, S.
    (2005) Narrative as a resource in accounts of the experience of illness. InJ. Thornborrow, & J. Coates (Eds.), Sociolinguistics of Narrative (pp.17–40). John Benjamins. 10.1075/sin.6.02che
    https://doi.org/10.1075/sin.6.02che [Google Scholar]
  18. Cooren, F.
    (2015) Organizational discourse. Polity Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  19. Cooren, F., Kuhn, T., Cornelissen, J. P., & Clark, T.
    (2011) Communication, organization, and organizing: An overview and introduction to the special issue. Organization Studies, 32(9), 1149–1170. 10.1177/0170840611410836
    https://doi.org/10.1177/0170840611410836 [Google Scholar]
  20. Crane, A., & Ruebottom, T.
    (2011) Stakeholder theory and social identity: Rethinking stakeholder identification. Journal of Business Ethics, 102(1), 77–87. 10.1007/s10551‑011‑1191‑4
    https://doi.org/10.1007/s10551-011-1191-4 [Google Scholar]
  21. Davies, B., & Harré, R.
    (1990) Positioning: The discursive construction of selves. Journal for the Theory of Social Behaviour, 20(1), 43–63. 10.1111/j.1468‑5914.1990.tb00174.x
    https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1468-5914.1990.tb00174.x [Google Scholar]
  22. (1999) Positioning and personhood. InR. Harré, & L. Van Langenhove (Eds.), Positioning theory (pp.32–52). Wiley-Blackwell.
    [Google Scholar]
  23. De Fina, A.
    (2008) Who tells which story and why? Micro and macro contexts in narrative. Text & Talk, 28(3), 421–442. 10.1515/TEXT.2008.020
    https://doi.org/10.1515/TEXT.2008.020 [Google Scholar]
  24. Deppermann, A.
    (2013) Positioning in narrative interaction. Narrative Inquiry, 23(1), 1–15. 10.1075/ni.23.1.01dep
    https://doi.org/10.1075/ni.23.1.01dep [Google Scholar]
  25. Fairclough, N.
    (2003) Analysing discourse: Textual analysis for social research. Routledge. 10.4324/9780203697078
    https://doi.org/10.4324/9780203697078 [Google Scholar]
  26. Frank, A.
    (2012) Practicing dialogical narrative analysis. InJ. A. Holstein, & J. F. Gubrium (Eds.), Varieties of narrative analysis (pp.33–52). Sage. 10.4135/9781506335117.n3
    https://doi.org/10.4135/9781506335117.n3 [Google Scholar]
  27. Halliday, M. A. K.
    (1994) An introduction to functional grammar (2nd ed.). Edward Arnold.
    [Google Scholar]
  28. Harré, R.
    (2012) Positioning theory: Moral dimensions of social-cultural psychology. InJ. Valsiner (Ed.), The Oxford handbook of culture and psychology (pp.191–206). Oxford University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  29. Harré, R., & Slocum, N.
    (2003) Disputes as complex social events: On the use of positioning theory. InR. Harré, & F. Moghaddam (Eds.), The self and others: Positioning individuals and groups in personal, political, and cultural contexts (pp.123–136). Praeger.
    [Google Scholar]
  30. Harré, R., Moghaddam, F., Cairnie, T., Rothbart, D., & Sabat, S.
    (2009) Recent advances in positioning theory. Theory & Psychology, 19(1), 5–31. 10.1177/0959354308101417
    https://doi.org/10.1177/0959354308101417 [Google Scholar]
  31. Humle, D. M., & Frandsen, S.
    (2017) Organizational identity negotiations through dominant and counter-narratives. InS. Frandsen, T. Kuhn, & M. W. Lundholt (Eds.), Counter-narratives and organization (pp.105–128). Routledge.
    [Google Scholar]
  32. Humphreys, M., & Brown, A. D.
    (2002) Narratives of organizational identity and identification: A case of hegemony and resistance. Organization Studies, 23(3), 421–447. 10.1177/0170840602233005
    https://doi.org/10.1177/0170840602233005 [Google Scholar]
  33. Jacobsen, D. I.
    (2012) Organisajonsendringer og endringsledelse [Organisational Changes and Change Management]. Fakbokforlaget.
    [Google Scholar]
  34. Jørgensen, K., & Boje, D.
    (2009) Genealogies of becoming – antenarrative inquiry in organizations. Tamara: Journal for Critical Organization Inquiry, 8(1), 32–47.
    [Google Scholar]
  35. Kayi-Aydar, H.
    (2019) Positioning theory in applied linguistics. Research design and applications. Springer International Publishing. 10.1007/978‑3‑319‑97337‑1
    https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-97337-1 [Google Scholar]
  36. Kotter, J.
    (1995) Leading change: Why transformation efforts fail. Harvard Business Review, 73(2), 59–67.
    [Google Scholar]
  37. Kövecses, Z.
    (2015) Where metaphors come from. Oxford University Press. 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190224868.001.0001
    https://doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190224868.001.0001 [Google Scholar]
  38. Kuczok, M.
    (2016) Repulsion, filth, and sickness. Metaphorical conceptualizations of disgust in English and Polish. InM. Kuzniak, B. Rozwadowska, & M. Szawerna (Eds.), From motion to emotion. Aspects of physical and cultural embodiment in language (Lodz Studies in Language) (pp.29–44). Peter Lang.
    [Google Scholar]
  39. Kuhn, T.
    (2017) Communicatively constituting organizational unfolding through counter-narrative. InS. Frandsen, T. Kuhn, & M. W. Lundholt (Eds.), Counter-narratives and organization (pp.17–42). Routledge.
    [Google Scholar]
  40. Lakoff, G., & Johnson, M.
    (2003) Metaphors we live by (New edition with afterword). The University of Chicago Press. 10.7208/chicago/9780226470993.001.0001
    https://doi.org/10.7208/chicago/9780226470993.001.0001 [Google Scholar]
  41. Lundholt, M., & Boje, D.
    (2018) Understanding organisational narrative-counter-narrative dynamics: An overview of Communication Constitutes Organization (CCO) and Storytelling Organization Theory (SOT) approaches. Communication & Language at Work, 5(1), 18–29.
    [Google Scholar]
  42. Morgan, D. L., & Krueger, R. A.
    (1993) When to use focus groups and why. InD. L. Morgan (Ed.) Successful focus groups: Advancing the state of the art (pp.3–19). Sage. 10.4135/9781483349008.n1
    https://doi.org/10.4135/9781483349008.n1 [Google Scholar]
  43. Pedersen, J. S.
    (2014) Institutionel teori [Institutional theory]. InS. Vikkelsø, & P. Kjær (Eds.) Klassisk og moderne organisationsteori (pp.233–256). Hans Reitzels Forlag.
    [Google Scholar]
  44. Puchta, C., & Potter, J.
    (1997) Asking elaborate questions: Focus groups and the management of spontaneity. Journal of Sociolinguistics, 3(3), 314–335. 10.1111/1467‑9481.00081
    https://doi.org/10.1111/1467-9481.00081 [Google Scholar]
  45. Rhodes, C.
    (2000) “Doing” knowledge at work, dialogue, monologue and power in organizational learning. InJ. Garrick, & C. Rhodes (Eds.) Research and knowledge at work: Prospectives, case-studies and innovative strategies (pp.217–231). Routledge. 10.4324/9780203461358.ch12
    https://doi.org/10.4324/9780203461358.ch12 [Google Scholar]
  46. Rhodes, C., & Brown, A.
    (2005) Narrative, organizations and research. International Journal of Management Review, 7(3), 167–188. 10.1111/j.1468‑2370.2005.00112.x
    https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1468-2370.2005.00112.x [Google Scholar]
  47. Scott, S. G., & Lane, V. R.
    (2000) A stakeholder approach to organizational identity. Academy of Management Review, 251, 43–62. 10.5465/amr.2000.2791602
    https://doi.org/10.5465/amr.2000.2791602 [Google Scholar]
  48. Slocum, N., & Van Langenhove, L.
    (2003) Integration speak: Introducing positioning theory in regional integration studies. InR. Harré, & F. Moghaddam (Eds.), The self and others: Positioning individuals and groups in personal, political, and cultural contexts (pp.219–235). Praeger.
    [Google Scholar]
  49. Trinch, S. L.
    (2003) Latinas’ narratives of domestic abuse: discrepant versions of violence. John Benjamins. 10.1075/impact.17
    https://doi.org/10.1075/impact.17 [Google Scholar]
  50. Van De Mieroop, D.
    (2021) The Narrative Dimensions Model and an exploration of various narrative genres. Narrative Inquiry, 31(1), 4–27. 10.1075/ni.19069.van
    https://doi.org/10.1075/ni.19069.van [Google Scholar]
  51. Van De Mieroop, D., & Schnurr, S.
    (2017) Identity struggles: Evidence from workplaces around the world. John Benjamins. 10.1075/dapsac.69
    https://doi.org/10.1075/dapsac.69 [Google Scholar]
  52. Weick, K., Sutcliffe, K., & Obstfeld, D.
    (2005) Organizing and the process of sensemaking. Organization Science, 16(4), 409–421. 10.1287/orsc.1050.0133
    https://doi.org/10.1287/orsc.1050.0133 [Google Scholar]
  53. Wibeck, V., Dahlgren, M. A., & Öberg, G.
    (2007) Learning in focus groups. Qualitative Research, 7(2), 249–267. 10.1177/1468794107076023
    https://doi.org/10.1177/1468794107076023 [Google Scholar]
This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was successful
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error