Retelling Stories in Organizations: Understanding the Functions of Narrative Repetition
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Scholars have yet to explore narrative repetition—when a story is recalled and retold from another narrative—for its rich conceptual depth. To build a case for this area, we analyze stories from scholarly research to identify the functions of narrative repetition. We distinguish three dualities produced through repetition, which are grounded in cultural issues of sameness and difference. These dualities—control/resistance, differentiation/integration, and stability/change—bring a more sophisticated understanding of the inherent complexity of narrative as a mode of interpretation and offer a transformative view of narrative that describes how the meaning of stories shifts over time. When people repeat stories, some individuals may interpret a narrative of stability, whereas others may hear a hint of change. Furthermore, we offer narrative repetition as a new methodology for organizational research with the recommendation that scholars use the recurrence of a story as a starting point for inquiry into the cultural life of organizations.