Qualitative Research in Information Systems: References on Narrative and Metaphor

Section Editor: Michael D. Myers

This is a list of references on narrative and metaphor. After a brief introduction which suggests those works which are essential reading for newcomers to the field, the list is organized into two parts: the first part lists citations related to the approach in Information Systems, the second lists citations related to the approach in other disciplines. You can use the Edit Find command to look for a specific citation.

Please send additional references and/or short abstracts of items on this page (maximum 100 words) to the Section Editor at: m.myers@auckland.ac.nz

[Introduction] [Citations in Information Systems] [Citations in Other Disciplines]
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There is a wealth of material on narrative and metaphor in other disciplines. Literary theorists, philosophers, historians, theologians, anthropologists, sociologists, psychologists and others have written extensively in this area.

A good introduction to the use of metaphor in organizational theory is Morgan's (1986) text. Polkinghorne's (1988) book on narrative has been extremely influential in the social sciences. In Information Systems, a good place to start would be the article by Hirschheim and Newman (1991).

In addition to the citations listed below, Narrative Psychology has an extensive annotated bibliography on narrative psychology and related areas, Sage Publications has published a number of books in a series entitled "The Narrative Study of Lives," and Narrative Inquiry is a serial devoted primarily to the narrative perspective.

Citations in Information Systems

Avison, D.E. and Myers, M.D. "Information Systems and Anthropology: An Anthropological Perspective on IT and Organizational Culture," Information Technology & People, (8:3), 1995, pp. 43-56.

Beath, C.M. and Orlikowski, W.J. "The Contradictory Structure of Systems Development Methodologies: Deconstructing the IS-User Relationship in Information Engineering," Information Systems Research (5:4), December 1994, pp. 350-377.

Boland, R.J. and Greenberg, R.H. "Metaphorical structuring of organizational ambiguity," in L.R. Pondy, R.J. Boland and H. Thomas (eds), Managing Ambiguity and Change, Chilchester, Wiley, 1988, pp. 17-36.

Boland, R.J., Jr. "Metaphorical Traps in Developing Information Systems for Human Progress," in Systems Development for Human Progress, H.K. Klein and K. Kumar (eds.)., North Holland, New York, NY 1989, pp. 279- 290.

Boland, R. and Schultz, U. "From Work to Activity: Technology and the Narrative of Progress," in Orlikowski et al. (eds), Information Technology and Changes in Organizational Work, London: Chapman and Hall, 1995, pp.308-324.

Davidson, E.J. "Examining Project History Narratives: An Analytic Approach," in Information Systems and Qualitative Research, A.S. Lee, J. Liebenau and J.I. DeGross (eds.), Chapman and Hall, London, 1997, pp. 123-148.

Heiskanen, A. "Organizational Metaphors and Information Systems Practice: A Case Example of Implementation Strategy Formation," in Human, Organizational, and Social Dimensions of Information Systems Development, D. Avison, J.E. Kendall and J.I. DeGross (eds.)., North-Holland, New York, 1993, pp. 399-417.

Hirschheim, R. and Newman, M. "Symbolism and Information Systems Development: Myth, Metaphor and Magic," Information Systems Research (2:1), March 1991, pp. 29-62.

Kendall, J.E. and Kendall, K.E. Metaphors and their Meaning for Information Systems Development," European Journal of Information Systems, Vol. 3, No. 1, 1994, pp. 37-47.

Kendall, J.E. and Kendall, K.E. "Metaphors and Methodologies: Living Beyond the Systems Machine," MIS Quarterly, Vol. 17, No.2, 1993, pp. 37-47.

Lanzara, G.F. "The Design Process: Frames, Metaphors, and Games," in Systems Design For, With and By the Users, U. Briefs, C. Ciborra, and L. Schneider (eds.), North Holland Publishing Company, New York, NY, 1983, pp. 29-40.

Madsen, K.H. "Breakthough by Breakdown: Metaphors and Structured Domains," in Systems Development for Human Progress, H.K. Klein and K. Kumar (eds.), North Holland, New York, NY, 1989, pp. 41-53.

Myers, M.D. "A disaster for everyone to see: an interpretive analysis of a failed IS project," Accounting, Management and Information Technologies (4:4), 1994a, pp. 185-201.

Ramiller, N.C. "Airline magazine syndrome: Reading a myth of mis-management," Information Technology & People (14:3), 2001, pp. 287-303.

Ramiller, N.C. "The 'textual attitude' and new technology," Information & Organization (11), 2001, pp. 129-156.

Walsham, G. "Organizational Metaphors and Information Systems Research," European Journal of Information Systems (1:2), 1991, pp. 83-94.

Citations in Other Disciplines

Boje, D. M. "The storytelling organization: A study of story performance in an office-supply firm," Administrative Science Quarterly, 36, 1991, pp. 106-126.

Boyce, M. E. "Organizational Story and Storytelling: A Critical Review," Journal of Organizational Change Management (9:5), 1996, pp.

Abstract: The stories told in organizations offer researchers and OD practitioners a natural entry point to understanding and intervening in the culture(s) of an organization. Informed by perspectives of social constructivism, organizational symbolism, and critical theory, key studies of organizational story and storytelling are examined, multidisciplinary foundations are identified, and challenges to the application of story work in organizations are presented.

Bruner, J. S. Actual minds, possible worlds. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1986.

Bruner, J. S. Acts of meaning. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1990

Bruner, J. S. "The narrative construction of reality," Critical Inquiry, 18, 1991, pp. 1-21.

Clancy, J.J. The Invisible Powers: The Language of Business, Lexington Books, Lexington, MA, 1989.

Clifford, J. The Predicament of Culture: Twentieth-Century Ethnography, Literature and Art. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1988.

Clifford, J. and Marcus, G.E. Writing Culture: The Poetics and Politics of Ethnography. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1986.

Cohen, A.P. The Symbolic Construction of Community. Ellis Horwood, London, 1985.

Dyer, W.G. Jr. and Wilkins, A.L. "Better Stories, Not Better Constructs, to Generate Better Theory: A Rejoinder to Eisenhardt," Academy of Management Review (16:3), 1991, pp. 613-619.

Geertz, C. The Interpretation of Cultures, Basic Books, New York, 1973.

Howard, G. S. "Culture tales: A narrative approach to thinking, cross-cultural psychology, and psychotherapy," American Psychologist, 46, 1991, pp. 187-197.

Lakoff, G. and Johnson, M. Metaphors We Live By. The University of Chicago Press, Chicago, IL, 1980.

Lévi-Strauss, C. Savage mind. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1968.

Manning, P.K. and Cullum-Swan, B. "Narrative, Content and Semiotic Analysis," in Handbook of Qualitative Research, Denzin, N.K. and Lincoln, Y.S. (eds.). Sage, Thousand Oaks, 1994, pp. 463-478.

This article discusses various forms of textual analysis, including narrative analysis, content analysis, and discourse analysis.

Mitchell, W. J. T. (Ed.). On narrative. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1981.

Morgan, G. Images and Organizations, Sage Publications, Beverley Hills, California, 1986.

Polkinghorne, D. E. Narrative knowing and the human sciences. Albany, NY: State of New York University Press, 1988.

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