Storytelling and the Collective Dynamics of
Transorganizational Networking
David M. Boje
October 7, 1999

Storytelling affects the dynamics of large multi-organization networks of change and development or "transorganizational development" (TD). First, this paper explores the dynamics of the relationships of storytelling and TD. Storytelling is the currency (medium of exchange) of TD relationships. It affects the tightening and loosening, and the differentiated centers of collective network patterning. Second, the paper briefly reviews how various TD approaches are being used by billion dollar consulting firms.Third, the paper illustrates ways to visualize network dynamics of TD storytelling networks. Finally, I illustrate several examples of TD large system change approaches and alternative visualizations including static models and those using simulation programming.

I propose storytelling affects the collective dynamics of transorganizational development (TD) networking (Boje 1979, 1981, 1982, 1997, 1999a, b, c). See

If we can visualize those collective dynamics either through static or simulation modeling, I assume that we can achieve a better understanding of the interaction of storytelling and transorganizational networking. Different visualization approaches ranging from grounded stories of relationship patterns to simulation studies of transactions tell us different stories of these storytelling networks and allow different visualizations. Before exploring the visualizing of complex TD networking dynamics, I want to summarize TD and briefly review what TD approaches are being practices by multi-billion dollar revenue consulting firms.

Transorganizational Development (TD) Networking is defined as planned change in the collective relationships of a variety of stakeholders to accomplish something beyond the capability of any single organization or individual (e.g. Culbert et. al., 1972). TD networking involves consulting strategies ranging from IT reengineering, knowledge organization, learning organization, appreciative inquiry, participative democracy, sociotechnical systems, network organization design, supply chain management, military cyber-war game simulations to various postmodern approaches such as restorying spectacles of mass production and consumption with more ecocentric and socially responsible ethics (Boje, 1999c). As we moved from the modern to late modern postindustrial life modes of the 1970s and most recently from post-Fordist production and consumption to postmodern capitalism of the 1990s traditional OD practice focus on a single firm and its environment is being replaced by TD consulting. TD consulting takes a network of firms embedded in a community of action as the starting point. This article is written for people engaged in large system change decisions, those doing comparative work, and teachers of TD practice and theory. We will examine ways to trace, visualize and develop multi-organizational systems using storytelling processes, but first a brief look at billion dollar consultation firm strategies.

Types of TD Consulting Theory and Praxis

TD1 -The first type of transorganizational network tells the "good story" of progress through business and masquerades, sometimes predatory and exploitative behaviors such as massive layoffs through reengineering and downsizing behind Greenwash advertising, public relations spin control, and token efforts to elevate world poverty and environmental degradation. The largest U.S. based consulting firms such as IBM Global Services with $29 billion in 1998 revenues focuses upon the use ob business process reengineering in its IT outsourcing and supply chain work (Boje, 1999c). Long lists of other firms follow that lead. In fact, most TD consulting is based in mechanistic, social engineering approaches to large systems multi-organization change and centrist control. The focus is on cost and efficiency optimization without too much attention to social and ecological consequences of production and consumption patterns.  Detached forms of netwrok visualization with nodes and arrows and abstract simulations of basic transaction and transmission data  is the focus(e.g. Node A passes a decision or product to node B who passes it to node C). In sum, TD1 network consulting seeks to recombine and control the community or global division of labor such that fragments of the self, social, and market can keep the status quo capital accumulation machine in tact (Boje, 1999a: 14-18). This appears to be easier in visualizations that aggregate the human domain such that indivudal personality, history, and the human depth of social relations can be assumed away.

TD2 is defined as seeking and actively organizing networks to change/resist or go beyond the status quo relations of a dominating TD1 networks (Boje, 1979; Boje & Wolfe, 1986).  This can take the form of using boycotts, demonstrations, and postmodern theater or Theater of the Oppressed to draw attention to the human and ecological consequences of TD1 cost/efficiency control networking on people and ecosystem. TD2 networks take advocacy positions on global ecology and local social responsibility. Examples range from community organizing of multi-organization networks such as the work of Saul Alinsky and Ted Watkins as well as theparticipative democracy search conferences by the Emerys. In the Emery case it is advocacy for environmental and purposive system reasoning and experiential events  in less hierarchical arrangements of networking. In the case of Alinsky and Watkins it is organizing actions that oppose targeted status quo, resource hoarding networks with an eye to making the targeted networks come to the bargaining table.  After bargaining, compromises are sought between a TD2 advocacy network and a TD1 dominance network such that new patterns of joint work emerge. The object is negotiation not alienation. Embarass and disrupt through boycott and high visibility protest actions, but not to the point that the other party will not negotiate a settlement.  There are also more postmodern and critical theory approaches to consulting that advocate either more grassroots or more ecocentric praxis options with an eye toward emancipation of some marginalized groups.
      KPMG International is an example of a multi-billion dollar consulting firm based in Europe that does what I would term TD2 consulting by advocating environmental accounting practices, bring firms together to work on environmental and world hunger projects. KPMG consulting practices have not taken up strong roots in North America.  In sum, TD2 networking seeks to attain greater democratic control and local community accountability over multinational as well as local corporate behavior. TD2 networking seeks to resist and modify the behavior of TD1 networks by forming an alternative TD2 network to conduct campaigns of resistance and power realignment that change TD1 behaviors (Boje, 1999: 14-18). I hypothesize that TD1 consulting typically uses more abstract transaction modeling of nodes and line maps, whereas TD2 consulting involves more grassroot to dominant coalition storytelling exchanges and story collection routines to map a system. The more abstract modeling and mapping of TD1 including aggregated statistics and simulation allows for a more depersonalized and denatured understanding of networking to persist, whereas TD2 focus on personal and eco-storytelling embeds a more human portrayal.

Middle Range TD1/TD2 -There are middle range approaches between TD1 and TD2 or involving combinations of both. For example many firms apply Learning Organization, Appreciative Inquiry, or "Alliance Collaboration" (Anderson Consulting) among competing firms in order to bring business practices into more sustainable and socially responsible praxis. Ernesto Cortez continues Alinsky's more radical approaches with somewhat more bureaucratic and multi-issue, rather than single issue advocacy praxis. For Cortez the idea is not to allienate potential allies to a network of action. The politics is less confrontational than the radical antics of Alinskey.  Ernst & Young and other billion dollar U.S. based firms adopt a Knowledge Organization approach as a successor to the more traditional Learning Organization models of Senge, Argyris or Schein-models. There is some experimentation by Ernst & Young with complexity and chaos theory modeling based in spin off operation from Santa Fe Institute. In sum, middle range approaches deviate from the profit maximization, free market economy view of TD1 to non-traditional approach which may on occasion yield social or ecological advocacy or approach collective dynamics from a more multi-paradigm vantage point. The point is that it is possible to extend middle range consulting to domains of action that transcend the divide between grassroots advocacy and system efficiency optimization mappings of collective networking dynamics.  A middle ground is possible.

In sum, I find in most industrial and service sectors of the economy as well as the lucrative government consulting area, a contestation among TD1, TD2 and mixed TD1/TD2 consulting ontologies (views of being in the world), epistemologies (how knowledge is attained of that world) and praxis (practices in use that operationalizes ontology and epistemology).TD consulting is big business. In 1998, eleven consulting firms exceeded one billion in annual global revenues (Forbes, 1999). We can organize and compare their large systems change strategies in a typology of TD1, mixed TD1 and TD2, and TD2 approaches. For example, the largest revenue-earners IBM Global Services ($29 billion), EDS ($16.9), CSC ($7.4) and Cap Gemini ($4.7) --- engage in what I call TD1 change strategies (Boje, 1999c). These multi billion dollar operations focus in one way or another on outsourcing and new or old variations of business process reengineering. There are also several consulting firms that appear to me to imitate the large TD1 consulting firms, such as Deloitte Consulting ($1.8 billion) and Pricewaterhouse-Coopers ($4 billion). I call these TD1 approaches.

There are billion dollar-consulting firms still applying single-organization strategy and structure change approaches of traditional OD practice. For example, the mono-organization approaches taken by McKinsey & Co ($2.5 billion) and Booz, Allen & Hamilton ($1.5 billion) do not tackle the complex and dynamic transorganizational issues of the 1990s global economic realities. To me (199b) OD consulting is passe since transorganizational concerns with multi-organizational behavior, supply chain organizing, world wide networking, individual identities splitting loyalties across multiple social and business networks, and the global division of labor has rendered OD obsolete (Boje, 1999a).

There are also mid-range consulting strategies that combine TD1 and perhaps some TD2 worldviews and practices. For example, Anderson Consulting ($8.4) defies the tradition of cut-throat competition by promoting alliance collaboration among competing firms in order to combine R&D and other investments. Ernst & Young ($4 billion) is experimenting with complexity and chaos consulting as well as Knowledge Organization approaches. Work by Anderson and Ernst & Young could be seen as mid-range consulting between TD1 and TD2 networking models.

At the other extreme is a European multi-billion dollar consulting firm, KPMG International ($3 billion) that uses what I would call TD2 approaches. The KPMG focus is on implementing environmental accounting standards, environmentally sustainable business practices, and doing something constructive about world hunger.

The role of storytelling in Emerging TD Change Models

I want to explore the more elusive TD network transformations and collective dynamics that rest on accounting reports and formal speeches, as well as the subtleties of everyday storytelling, rumors, myth-making and the transient fads and fashions of popular culture. A transorganizational network is a transitory social phenomenon in constant flux of loosely and tightly coupled interests and behaviors. Tightly coupled networks are hardwired in for example, telephone, computer-server networks, and just in time supply chain contracts. Loosely coupled networks are more dynamic and spontaneous, such as in rumor mills that feed a rise or fall in the stock market following a Greenspan announcement and the many fashion fads among networks of producers, suppliers, distributors, retailers, advertisers, and consumers. A dynamic network pattern can emerge in collective storytelling ways.

The term "collective dynamics" is defined by Lang and Lang (1961: 34) as "those patterns of social action that are spontaneous and unstructured inasmuch as they are not organized and are not reducible to social structure" (italics as in original). Collective network dynamics are assumed here to be considerably more complex and chaotic than dyadic concepts of organization and environment dyadic relations, and go beyond the organization and its immediate set of dyadic relationships. In addition, I assume that storytelling and the collective dynamics of TD networks are related in important ways. Finally, I assume that what is important about the relationship of storytelling and collective networking dynamics goes beyond traditional organizational development (OD) theory and praxis. Elsewhere (Boje, 1999a), I argue that OD is a dead concept and praxis because so many organizations are now transorganizational involving TD, not OD. I therefore call for more TD theory and praxis. In addition, I assert (Boje, 1999b) that TD is rooted in holonic relations called networks of holons. A holon is a whole/part, not a whole or a part, but both since people and organizations are involved in a series of holon relations that are increasingly transorganizational be it through Internet, professional association, supply chain, global e-commerce, or other embedded networks. "Holon" is Greek for "whole/parts" meaning literally the whole that is simultaneously a part, and vice versa. The Greek word "holon" became popularized in Arthur Koestler's (1967) book, The Ghost in the Machine. Ken Wilber (1996a, 1996b) has also applied holon in numerous ways we will soon explore. "We exist in fields within fields, patterns within patterns, contexts within contexts, endlessly" (1996b: 65).

A node in the TD network is defined as all the relations that converge to form the temporary positionality of a story, person or organization in multiple networks. Sometimes stories are nodes other times they can be depicted as lines of connections between people and/or organizations.

In the relation of storytelling and networking at the level of "collective dynamics" the problem is how to understand and represent or otherwise map patterns of transorganizational relations over time. Barry (1997) argues that storytelling and restorying past stories is a major aspect of organizational change. In my own (1991) study of an office supply firm, its vender, customer-organization, branch organizations, and parent company relations stories were used in many ways. For example to craft strategy by putting a story of a new venture into a revised story of the founder, sharing focus groups stories of vendors and customers with corporate mangers, and story sharing events designed to impress the holding company. There were frequent story meeting to decide what spin to put on selling off a branch operation, discharging a vice president for sexually harassing managers, and what to do then the word was on the street that the office supply firm was for sale by its holding company. And we were aware the holding company told its stories of the office supply companies it was acquiring nationally to sell them all off to a group of investors. This level of storytelling moves beyond the organization as the unit of analysis to the collectivity of an interorganizational network of customer, supplier, investor, and branch or affiliate relationships.

Collective dynamics of transorganizational storytelling networking exhibits patterns that are assumed to be more spontaneous than the social structuring of bureaucratic centrality, recurrent structuration, and repeated cycles of behavior. A network is more often multi-centered, non-recurrent, and highly flexible. Tightly coupled storytelling networks are assumed to be less flexible and cope more slowly to new situations than are loosely coupled networks. Indeed, it is now taken for granted that it is the loose ties in networks that have the most impact upon loosely coupled collective dynamics (Granovetter, 197?). Tracing and mapping collective storytelling at a TD level is the focus of this paper. Here are some examples.

First, a transorganizational network can emerge spontaneously out of a single storytelling event, such as Martin Luther King's "I have a dream" speech with its subsequent impact on reforming coalitions among many civil rights organizations. Rachael Carson's book, Silent spring stimulated much TD among environmental action groups. De las Casas diaries about Columbus and colleagues' slaughter of West Indies native populations changed policies in Spain. In terms of TD, consulting firms use storytelling to restructure companies and industries. Boje, Rosile, Dennehy, and Summers (1997) looked at how reengineers use storytelling as part of their training in several ways. For example, telling stories of past reengineering successes, coaching CEOs on how to tell the story of the impending reengineering, characterizing those to be down-sized as the "fat" to be trimmed or the "casualties" of the war on global quality. CEOs and managers are trained how to story press releases and how to view the rollout of the reengineering change as a story with several acts. De Cock (1999) also provides a critique of reengineering rhetorical tactics.

Second, transorganizational networking can grow out of many facilitative stories recounted in temporary organizations, such as a search conference, future search event, open spaces meeting, or task force of organization stakeholders. For example, Saul Alinsky's community organizing efforts often rested upon getting a power-wielding slum lord's story of predatory exploitation to become the rallying point for networks of community based church, social, business, and public agencies. Also, the Emery-search conference uses a jury system to select community stakeholders from the public and private sector (many are organization representatives) to convene to scan their history, environment and future in ways that promotes the formation of a temporary core organization that will diffuse change initiatives to a larger embedding network.

Third, transorganizational-networking dynamics can grow or shift from spontaneous stories shared among consumers about a star's bathing suit on Bay-Watch. Fad-fashion stories become rallying points for supplier, producer, distributor and consumer clubs that are here one week and gone the next. Czarniawska (1997) in her study of Swedish public administration traces how stories affect trends in administration. Narrating the organization is affected by what is seen as fashionable administrative practice. In TD consulting, I assume that distinctive competence is sustained by claiming your firm, but it IBM Global Services, Ernst & Young, or McKinsey & Company has the newest approach that the competition does not. Such claims of uniqueness and fashion can be studied by reviewing the billion dollar consulting firms' web sites and linked web documents (Boje, 1999c).

Fourth, networks of organizations can collect stories to trace and influence mass culture trends in digital storytelling arenas such as the Coke storytelling theater in Las Vegas or various Internet collection points. Major corporations such as HP, Xerox, IBM, etc. are sending their people to digital storytelling training to learn how to use stories to influence mass consumption trends. In Las Vegas, visitors to the Coke Bottle building enter a theater, hear and see digital stories, fill out a response survey, and can volunteer to add their own favorite Coke story to the collection.

Fifth, stories such as the leak of the Ernst & Young audit of one Nike factory in Vietnam revealing contradictions to CEO speeches, corporate press releases, and official code of conduct principles can create a media, activist, political and Nike-counter story transorganizational network with complex and even chaotic dynamics. Nike seems particularly plagued by the leak of stories from its Asian factories that make their way to activist web sites and then to the front page of the Washington Post and slowly become the topic of academic research. The cycle is typically so slow, that Nike does not have to actually change labor practices. Since 1980, Nike only had to put a spin on the story, challenge the credibility of the storyteller, or promise changes. Only in the last five years, has Nike actually had to make changes, and the release of a credible Ernst & Young social and environmental audit had much to do with Nike increasing wages, implementing OSHA health and safety standards, and other actual labor process changes.

In sum, in each case a transorganizational network dynamics and patterns emerge or are organized around storytelling. Stories set off new patterns of collective networking dynamics. In each case stories are the currency of collective networking dynamics. In each the storied plots and characterizations infect collective networking dynamics. In each a story can render a TD network more or less stable and more or less centered or fragmented by the manner of its telling and retelling or diffusion. Stories can reinforce or disrupt habituated or more spontaneous collective dynamics among organizations. Sometimes storytelling dynamics will follow initially emergent patterns in repeated cycles to fashion loose coupling into more habituated tight coupling. Other times, just the opposite will happen and stories will jump channels and move through loose ties to create chaos in embedding social structures. I assume that a significant portion of transorganizational activity involves some kind of storytelling, be it formal accounting to investors and regulators or informal stories shared across email. Finally, stories are hard of "authorities" and "officials" to control. A story about office sex or Watergate can topple a presidency. In short, storytelling is a collective behavior that dynamically transforms network patterns of behavior until the next story or restorying of the old story changes the ebb and flow.

Context Matters - Stories are not independent of the context of their embedded performance. Stories have ownership rights. Only some people are officially authorized to tell a story. Whistle blowers tell stories that are not officially sanctioned. Authorities install story-monitoring mechanisms such as listening in on customer service phone calls or dispatching undercover shoppers. A story performed in one context, even if told word for word, can have a different meaning in another context. From a collective dynamics view, storytelling is part of the on-going memory work of a transorganizational networking. Consumers have shorter memories than investors do, and these memories are shorter than suppliers. Yet, it is the collective storied interactions that make up collective memory, as actors story and restory their past, present, and future. Rehistoricizing a story into a different version is part of the memory work, as it comparing or contrasting a new story with its predecessor set to make it sensible. For example, storytelling organization theory suggests on-going negotiations between official memories of corporate heroes and employees who worked with them. Boyce (1995) studied storytelling as a sensemaking activity of an organization, its participants, and the environment. In storytelling organization theory the entire organization or collectivity of organizations, in this context, are viewed as a storytelling system (Boje, 1991, 1995; Boyce, 1995). Official biographers, for example, story Walt as the inventor of Mickey Mouse and animation and as a simple grandfatherly figure. By others he is storied as obsessive-compulsive, volatile, and someone who appropriated the stories and inventions of others, including the idea for Mickey Mouse as his own (Boje, 1995). Eisenberg and Goodall (1987) look at how Disney substituted stories and metaphors of casts and stage acts for family in ways that changed Disney culture. Hollis, R & Sibley (1988) also look at official storytelling and widespread patterns of resistance in and out of the focal organization, in this case Disney. Van Maanen (1991) makes the point that employees are recruited, trained and monitored to be sure the keep smiling to the guest and keep in costume on the work-stage that is all of Disney or be fired from the smile factory. The PR job is to make investors, customers, employees, and suppliers believe Disney is all one story of the "happy kingdom" a place of synergy, imagination, and family fun. Recent storytelling by religious fundamentalist objecting to Disney movie making and theme parks moving away from "family values" that Walt sustained points to the transorganizational struggle among multiple storytellers. The problem for the historian as well as customer and investor and the PR department is whether to make a grand story of CEO history or many stories of everyone's history. Great CEO stories become for many organizations the totalized and universal history for everyone. Fairhurst and Putnam (1999) review Taylor and colleagues work on the relation between narrating and organizing.


Ways of Mapping and Displaying Collective Dynamics in Storytelling Networks involving Multiple Organization Arenas

Collective Memory Dynamics in TD Networks - Storytelling organization theory suggests that as multiple storytellers, including multiple organizations, interact, they memorialize and selectively forget history. Barry and Elmes (1997) argue that storytelling is fundamental to corporate strategy. Strategy-as-storytelling seeks to round out "topographical" mapping of stakeholders with a narrative understainding of the political economy (p. 430). Strategic stories "make the political economices of strategy more visible (cf. Boje, 1996; Barry & Elmes, 1997: 430). Storytelling, unlike expert mapping of a system of organizations raises questions of "who gets to write and read strategy? How are readings and writings linked to power? Who is marginalized in the writing/reading process?"

From a collective transorganizational dynamics view, efforts to fashion multi-organizational strategy also involve storytelling. In transorganizational networks of storytelling organizations, there are many centers of history. Centered networks rally around particular narratives of leaders or organizations, but for the most part the story networks giving identity to a collectivity are poly-centered and poly-narrated.  In grassroots approaches to TD networking the focus is on collective authoring of strategies (poly-narrated). In aggregated approaches to strategy an "implied author" speaks for the collective of stakeholders (monological strategy formation). In a monological strategy-as-story we might for example follow the Hero's Journey of an epic-CEO like Steven Jobs or a romantic company like the expolits of Apply computer and the launch of the MacIntosh.  Berry nd Elemes (1997:437) argue that SWOT analysis allows companies to portray themselves in romanticists plots of CEOs overcoming weaknesses and exhibiting strengths and corporations moving around threats to find opportunities in the environment.  The problem with such "monolithic identities: is who decides, who is the expert reader to decide what is strength and what is a weaknesses or what is a threat and what is an opportunity? Such questions and expert-driven recipes are answered differently from different network positions.
     TD1 tends to focus on what Barry and Elmes (1997: 439) term "technofuturist genres" of strategy-as-story.  The technofuturist genres is part of an epic narrativeof using "quasi-science" network mapping appraoches such as temporal sequencing of who consults whom, who sends email to whom, who trades how much with whom?  These are transactional and transmission level positivist data maps where the domain of strytelling is at a very abstract and aggregate level.  Usually the content in terms of human feelings, history, and thought is not being explored in the technofuturist simulation studies and abstract model topographical maps of TD1 consulting firms.    Another way to keep the strategy-as-story at a high level of abstraction is to use what Barry and Elmes (1997: 440-1) term "urist narratives."  Porter's "cost leaders" and "focusers" and Miles and Snow's "defenders" and "prospectors" are abstract characterizations of antagonists and protagonists that universalize and essentialize (Boje, 1995) system actor behavioral profiles into simple frameworks, typologies, and mappings. Spoken accounts of grounded stakeholder behavior can be avoided in favor of abstractions.

     The more polyphonic strategy-as-story approaches involve more dialogical and mutlual authorship of strategic understanding of networking dynmaics.  This can mean "surfacing, legitimizing, and juxtaposing differing organiztaional stories" as well as differing stakeholder logics (Barry & elmes, 1997: 444). Postmodernist and critical theory perspectives on collective narration and expert narration of strategy-as-story focus on how people are central to or martinal to the strategic discourse that dominates a given context. The approach is to use deconstructive anlaysis of the on-going story exchanges that map a particular network.   The postmoderists in particular look at more polyvocal (many voiced) and polysemous (many meaning) explorations of storytelling-as-strategy.  This is a move away from purist narratives of Porter or Miles & Snow as well as the monologicial narratives of a SWOT expert-recipe story of strategic choice making behaviors that involve collective dynamics.  My own work on Tamara organizations as storytelling networks (1995) and as networks of stortyelling organiztions fits here.  Instead of a mono-voice reading of that Tamara Organization or network of multiple Tamara Organizations looks at rapidly changing readings as wandering audience chase and trace a multitude of simultaneous storytelling events on many performance stages. In and among storytelling organzitions, the currency of the relationship is the stories, but like so many exchanges we do not know exactly where the story originated, how it is retold and restoried as it traverse the many stages, and whose storytelling enactment will become more fashionable.  Instead of a centralized and monolithic account of strategy athe Tamara model focuses upon the storytelling networking of mutltiple stakeholers engaged inmultiple transorganiztional relationships.

Stories collected out of their performance contexts, can be sifted and sorted, classified and rendered into abstract taxonomy by expert-academics, but the stories' meaning has been obliterated without its grounded context investigation. What I would like to do is look at the various ways of mapping stories and storytelling networks over time that move beyond abstract, monolithic expert modeling to grassroots explorations of collective storytelling dynamics.  And then I want to propose a middle ground where we can oscillate between the two approaches to network consulting.

Story mapping analysis seeks to understand the complex dynamics of storytelling among the ties of people across their social networks. The basic assumption is that social network and stories have a mutual influence.

There are several network-mapping variations that relate to stories. This first approach was very popular in the late 1970s when I did my dissertation work. The idea is to map centraly and differentiations of exchanges using simple linking data such as who talks to whom or how many times they talk to whom.  There is no analysis of the storied content of those exchanges or of shifts in transmission patters over time.

Figure One: Time-bound Transaction Mapping of Network Exchanges

The nodes (e.g. the numbered circles in Figure One) can be names (of people, places or organizations) and the links (lines in Figure One) connect stories among the nodes. The dotted lines are clusters within the network.

Some alternative approaches suggest themselves. First, stories can be mapped as nodes to other stories by their linking themes. Here each node in Figure One would be a story. Second, stories can be connected in time sequence to other stories, past, present, and future. For example S1 could come before S2 and S3 after them both. Third, contexts can be nodes and linking stories can connect them. The microstorians traces embedded stories in their historical context without using a contemporary lens or bagging them together in decontextualized collections. Fourth, there are multidimensional mappings of story networks. Venn diagrams can be used that make nodes and lines bigger or smaller, use color schemes, and multiple symbols to depict and map story networks.

In the 1980s I began to map storytelling dynamics of complex storytelling exchange and story consulting patterns using ICEND.

Story Network and TD Consultation - The ICEND Model ICEND - stands for Interactive, Communicative, Experiential, and Network Development.

I - Interactive - Share stories around issues

C- Communicative - Stories of the collective

E- Experiential

N- Network

D- Development

ICEND is a term that David Boje and Michael Jones coined in 1982 to develop a story-based model of TD (Boje, 1982). The ICEND theory is that by convening grasroots people to interact, communicate their stories, and form common experience, a network for action and change develops around their collective storytelling (See Boje, 1981, 1982). Three subsystems are formed (See Exhibit I).  

Exhibit I shows the relationship between the three subsystems. The network process consultant helps Subsystem Two stakeholders identify critical issues that will bring people to together in a search conference. The idea wos to put people into experiential and dialogic workshops where they could work out their networking dynamics. This means facilitating the location of stakeholders from different sectors of the economy and community so they can develop strategies in focus groups that will convene a temporary organization. The temporary organization will work to create cycles of network involvement and diffusion in the extended network that would consist of hundreds or thousands of other organizations. Members of the temporary organization are drawn from relevant sectors of the environment of the extended network (Subsystem Three).


An example of sectors is presented in Figure 1 (above). [Source of Figure 1. (Boje & Wolfe, 1987: 738)].

In Exhibit II, work of the Second Subsystem is shown over its seven time phases as it works with the extended network involvement cycle until the temporary organization disbands having effected its changes. The example is taken form a proposal I wrote to the Department of Commerce in Washington D.C. for a network development model to bring stakeholders together from two industries, Automobile and the Hi Tech, following a massive lay off of automobile workers. The plan was to do a series of search conferences including focus groups, mini-conference, and teleconferencing to build extended network cycles of involvement across the two industries and various public and private training programs. Out of the conferencing we anticipated that a High Tech Advisory Council would form to facilitate the on-going retraining efforts by developing communication and resource support linkages that were not there in the early phases.

The ICEND approach was offered to the Department of Commerce to make fashion a government strategy to respond to the escalating lay offs in the Auto industry as plants were transferred to Canada and Mexico.  Grace Ann Rosile and I use the approch currently in work we do with complex trasnaction and storytelling patterns at White Sands.  Our current work is to look at ways to use dynamic modeling of transmission and transaciton data to form simulations of network dynamics.  This can give the consulting and temporary organization time series maps of network configuration. Our aim is to juxtapose those abstract maps with storied readings of human relationships at each time phase.  In this way we can begin to populate the simulation studies with storied readings by multiple stakeholders.  And we can look for shifting logics over time to ascertain, we hope, just when a new networking dynamic caught on in an extended networking pattern. This allows us to look for chaos and complexity patterns by triangulating simulation modeling with ethnographic storytelling maps.

Story relationship between Nike, Stockholders, and Consumers Figure Four (can not be displayed here) is an example of Story to Name Network Mapping using my studies of Nike to study relations among six storytelling organizations (STOs): Nike Inc., Activists, Media, Workers, Consumers, and Studiers. There are other STOs such as government (e.g. President Clinton's No Sweatshop Campaign), other sports wear manufacturers such as Reebok, Puma, Fila, New Balance, etc. which are not part of the present study . The possible links to analyze in Figure two are numbered 1 to 15. The stories I collected involve several stories to name relationships:

Nike names a number of 3rd party contacts in its web documents including phone numbers of long lists of organizational spokespersons. Nike invites consumers and stockholders to call to verify Nike's stories (e.g. the Andrew Young Report name list). One analysis is to contact the named individuals and get their side of the story that Nike portrays. For example, Vidette Mixon, a major shareholder and representative for the Methodist church is on this list. Her speeches and motions at stockholder meetings in 1997 and 1998 have resulted in major concessions by Nike in terms of allowing third party monitors of Nike labor practices. Activists, however, claim that names are being listed that were not part of the Andrew Young study and that Nike is engaged in disinformation. Nike counters with charges that Activists have an ax to grind and that the methodologies of Activist studies can not be trusted. Both accuse the other of spin doctoring which makes story analysis particularly appropriate to this interorganizational field.

My purpose is to use this model to trace the ways in which the network of multiple storytelling organizations (Nike, Media, Activists, Studiers), workers (domestic and Third World), and consumers (including stockholders and retailers) circulate and spin stories to influence one another. The point of the model is to be able to say something about the system as a whole.

                                         Figure Four Can Not be Displayed 

 Summary of Figure Four

Nike (Phil Knight, Subcontractors, Niketowns, Stars)

Media (Paper, Web news services, TV, Film, Editorials Cartoons)

Workers (Domestic U.S, Third World, especially Asia)

Consumers (Stockholders, Retail Outlets, Governments)

Studiers (Academic researchers , Consulting studies, Auditors such as E&Y)

Activists (Dedicated Web, Associated-Religious, Union activists, and boycott Nike web sites)

The network mapping display traces storytelling behavior among these six "Tamara" storytelling organizations (i.e. N - M - W - C - S - A network relations). There are weak ties between N and A since their communication is mediated through the M, S, C, and W. There is also a weak tie between W and S. S and A maintain stronger ties. N has a 1,000 person PR office to work with M, W. C, and on occasion S. The purpose of the display (you do not get to see) is to show how storytelling behaviors impact the networking dynamics over time..
       Story relationships between Nike and various Activist organizations. Nike's web documents list some of the most outspoken activists (e.g. Medea Benjamin of Global Exchange and Thuyen Nguyen at Vietnam Labor Watch). Nike and activists keep files of press releases, stories and counter stories on each other on web sites. Tracing the stories between the named individuals and organizations can reveal moves and counter moves of the storytelling organizations in Figure Two. For example, former Ambassador Andrew Young's reports on labor practices were a response to the highly critical report of Thuyen Nguyen of Vietnam Labor Watch.

    The study I am doing now with Nancy Landrum is to figure out how story patterns and network alignments shift with the release of key Nike-stories over time. For example, when stories of women being marched in the sun or hit about the head with Nike shoes was released in the Vietnamese press, the story took several months to draw media attention in the U.S. Robert Baskins eventually took a CBS film crew to Vietnam to observe and interview a Nike factory. This cause a good deal of consumer attention and activists rallied consumer sentiments into boycott actions at Niketown and campus sites.  Nike responded by dispatching its 1,000 member Labor Process Department members in small teams to those sites to issue count-stories more favorable to Nike. After the release of the Vietnam Labor Watch report, Nike responded by sending former Ambassador Andrew Young on a whistle stop tour of Asian Nike plants. But, Doonsebury got into the storytelling act, and so did activist commentators on the methodlogy of the Young study.  Nike issued counter stories in press releases and web site posting.  The point I am making that it is possible to use strytelling to assess how media coverage, activist engagement, and Nike spin control happens over time period across a varity of triggering key story events. And tracing these storied relationships and counter-tactics allows us to study the overall patterning of netowork dynamics in an arena where multiple storytelling logics and strategies are being enacted over time.

 I assume that it is possible to use simulation to capture network patterns and dynamics that are not so easy to map in for example, the Nike-Activist-Media, etc. storytelling configuratons just described.

Control by two centers in a network -The following is an example of Inter-System Penetration developed by Lothar Krempal (press here). The idea is to develop network graphic approaches to depict organizational domains and industrial access to those domains. "Policy today is made in a process involving a plurality of both private and public organizations." The example is one of interpenetrating networks across system boundaries. In this example between research and industry as two groups of government agencies take action (fitted to two lines on the top while the controlled organizations are fitted to a circle). Below the two government lines there are two central advisory bodies, which grant funds or give recommendations about the future development of the organizational system below (whose participation in these committees is not shown). The degree of control (measured by the number of government seats) may be read from the size of the white spheres. The graphic procedures involved allow a researcher to add additional constraints to the fitting procedures, which open the road to varying forms of quasi experimentation in TD. For example, the visualization below shows access to different parts of a network using a graphic method to illustrate the potential importance of a specific actor. Here we illustrate access of an industrial organization to various parts of a network of state sponsored research laboratories.

(Press here) for two more examples.


In this paper I have reviewed major system change approaches as being TD1, TD2 or some middle range positioning. I have also attempted to show how network dynamics can be mapped by using a combination of storytelling processes including story sharing in search conference approach to network involvement cycles. Through different approaches to network mapping, the story of the network's development and intervention cycles can be displayed to participating stakeholders. This would improve consultation involvement, problem diagnosis, strategy formation to change network patterns, and the evaluation of consolation activities. Through network graphics the problem solving network systems and extended network invovlement cycles can be visualized and evaluated. Storytelling is important in several ways. First it is through story sharing that participants crystallize their experiences in the network being change, formulate visions of possible futures, and form alliances. Second, the consultant can facilitate story sharing between the temporary organization that undertakes network change initiatives by diffusing stories throughout the extended network. As the extended network gets involved in the stories of the unfolding initiatives, the development of networking options continues. Storytelling is therefore the currency by which network development achieved and large systems change is realized. In the collective dynamics of TD storytelling plays a critical role in facilitating change and in understanding he changes that are unfolding throughout complex networks.


Barry, David 1997 "Telling changes: From narrative family therapy to organizational change and development." Journal of Organizational Change Management. 10(1): 30-46. This article looks at ways that restorying is used in a change process.

Barry, David & Michael Elmes 1997 "Strategy retold: Toward a narrative view of strategic discourse." Academy of Management Review, 22(2) 429-452. Applied in general theory to strategic change.

Boje, David M.
1979 "The Change Agent as Revolutionary: Activist Interventions into Inter organizational Networks," Transorganizational Development Session of the Academy of Management Meetings, Atlanta, Georgia, August 1979.

1981 "Organization Lore in Transorganizational Praxis," Invited Paper for the Academy of Folklore Meetings," in San Antonio, Texas, October 22-24.

1982 "A Networking approach to the problem of securing Hi Tech jobs for unemployed minority autoworkers" This paper contends my first write up of ICEND model. December 31.

1991 ""The storytelling organization: A study of storytelling performance in an office supply firm." ASQ 36: 106-126. The article considers storytelling tactics of a manager named Doug surrounding corporate restructuring.

1995 "Stories of the storytelling organization: A postmodern analysis of Disney as 'Tamara-land'" AMJ 38 (4): 997-1035. See pp. 1014-1015 for family versus cast/theatrics metaphor discussion.

1997 "Radical transorganizational development theory and praxis: From Weber and Durkheim to Postmodern." Research Monograph (September).

1999a " Transorganizational Development and the death of Organizational Development." October 3rd (press here).

1999b " Holon and Transorganization Theory" September 30th (press here).

1999c " Who Rules Large System Transorganizational Development (TD) Consulting? October 6th (press here).


Boje, Rosile, Dennehy, and Summers 1997 "Restorying reengineering: Some deconstructions and postmodern alternatives" Communication Research (journal) Volume 24(6): 631-668 (press here).

Boje, D. M. and Wolfe, T.
1989 "Transorganizational Development: Contributions to Theory and Practice," 733-753 In Leavitt, H., Pondy, L. R., and Boje, D. M. Readings in Managerial Psychology, Chicago Press, Third Edition, 1989.

Boyce, Mary
1995 "Collective centering and collective sense-making in the stories and storytelling of one organization." Organization Studies. 16 (1). 107-137.

Culbert, Samuel A., James Max Elden, Will McWhinney, Warren Schmidt & Bob Tannenbaum.
1972 "Trans-organizational praxis: A search beyond organizational development," International Associations, XXIV (10, October). 1972. Still an excellent piece. This was the first piece I read that got me started in TD.

Czarniawska, Barbara 1997 Narrating the Organization: Dramas of Institutional Identity. Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago Press.

De Cock, Christian
1999 "Organizational Change and Discourse: Hegemony, Resistance and Reconstitution" Article published in M@n@gement Journal (press here).

Eisenberg, E. and Goodall, H.
1987 organizational Communication: Balancing Creativity and Constraint. NY: St. Martin's Press. See pp 38-39 for discussion of family metaphor and cast metaphor.

Fairhurst, G. T. & L. L. Putnam
1999 "Reflections on the organization-communication equivalency question: The contributions of James Taylor and his colleagues." The Communication Review. Vol. 3(1-2): 1-19.

Hollis, R & Sibley, B.
1988 The Disney Story. London: Octopus Books.

Koestler, Arthur
1967 The Ghost in the Machine Arkana, London.

Lang, Kurt & Gladys Engel Lang
1961    Collective Dynamics. NY: Thomas Y. Crowell Company.

Van Maanen, J.
1991 "The smile factory: Work at Disneyland" In Forst et al (Eds;) Reframing organizational culture. Pp. 58-76. Newbury Park, CA: Sage.

Wilber, Ken
1996a A Brief History of Everything. Boston: Shambhala.
1996b "Transpersonal art and literary theory." The Journal of Transpersonal Psychology. 28(1): 63-91.
Press to return to TD tables or to TD Game Board or  dfor a TD narrative.