Turning Facts into Stories and Stories into Facts: A Hermeneutic Exploration of Organizational Folklore

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This paper analyzes three organizational stories which the author encountered in different work and military organizations. Each story reveals a dual structure, a recital, which varies in different accounts, and a common core, referred to here as the myth. These myths are seen as collective fantasies, fulfilling shared desires and offering either opportunities for cathartic discharge or a partial inoculation against misfortune. It is argued that the meanings of organizational myths are neither transparent nor unambiguous, often expressing ambivalent and contradictory wishes and permitting different or competing interpretations. The three myths discussed in this paper were all found to be symbolic means of turning passivity into activity, powerlessness into control, and of offering consolations against pain and suffering.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)857-875
Number of pages19
JournalHuman Relations
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 1991


  • corporate fantasies
  • organizational myths
  • stories
  • symbolism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Social Sciences(all)
  • Strategy and Management
  • Management of Technology and Innovation

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