The way it really happened: competing narratives in the political process of technological change

Patrick Mark Dawson, D. Buchanan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

69 Citations (Scopus)


Corporate narratives concerning technological change are often constructed around a linear event sequence that presents the organization in a positive light to internal and external observers. These narratives often sanitize the change process, and present data from which commentators can formulate neat linear prescriptions on how to implement new technology. In contrast, this article draws on processual-contextual theoretical perspectives to argue that technological change is a more complex political process represented by multiple versions of events which compete with each other for dominance as definitive change accounts. It also calls for an analysis of narratives over time (before, during and after change) in seeking to demonstrate the analytical significance of identifying and unpacking the multiple interpretive frameworks that are utilized in organizational struggles over technology and change at work. These struggles draw attention to the ways in which power is exercised through the construction and management of compelling stories that shape change. It is the contribution of these stories (competing narratives) to understanding the political process of technological change, that is the focus of this article.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)845-865
Number of pages20
JournalHuman Relations
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 2005


  • change
  • narratives
  • politics
  • processual
  • technology
  • WORK


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