Executive Storytelling

Research Project Overview

Storytelling is a fundamental way to organize and communicate important ideas. The project examines executive storytelling, focusing on executive’s interpersonal communication of strategy (enterprise, department, or project) with peers, superiors, and direct reports. The goals of this project are to understand the following questions:

  1. How does an executive view their organization’s strategic story?
  2. How does the story differ between executives within an organization and between organizations?
  3. What approaches and techniques are used for effective interpersonal communication of the story?
  4. What distinguishes effective from less effective strategies?
  5. How does current strategy relate to a company’s historic roots?

Narrative Theory Background

Although this project draws broadly upon many disciplines (strategy, marketing, organizational behavior) it is grounded in narrative theory. Narrative theory represents the structural characteristics that are common to all stories across genres (e.g., novel, film, ballet, music). Narrative theory explains why a given story is effective: it is paradoxically both universal and particular. For example, Shakespeare wrote the play Hamlet for a universal time and place, but each new rendition of the play was interpreted and contextualized to a particular time and place. Related to business strategy, an executive may tell a “waterfall” story: “treat our employees well” (employee treatment), in turn they will “treat our customers well” (customer treatment), and the customers will “reciprocate with loyalty and increased spending” (company benefits). This universal “waterfall” story is probably something all companies enact. Other stories such as low cost or differentiation may entail choices among universal themes. Although stories are universal, they are tactically enacted in particular ways that contextualize the story. For example, “treating customers well” may entail a smile for a retail clerk or a follow up phone call from an inside sales representative. In taking a narrative perspective we will examine the content of strategic stories (the universals and particulars) as well as the manner in which stories are communicated interpersonally.

Participation

  • Summer 2012
  • Scope: enterprise, department, or project strategy
  • Eligibility: executives with strategy development and implementation responsibility
  • Involvement: (a) one executive from a company or (b) an executive team
  • Time requirement: 45 minute interview per executive
  • No cost

Benefits

Participants will receive an analysis of their strategy and how it is communicated interpersonally. Additionally, benchmarking analysis within an organization and to peer organizations is provided. Feedback includes:

  • Executive Report
  • Executive Feedback Presentation

Researchers & Contact Information

  • Dr. Brian Glibkowski (linkedIn)
  • Dr. Lee McGinnis (linkedIn)
  • Dr. James Gillespie (linkedIn)
  • Abby Schommer, Stonehill College (class of 2013)

To inquire about participation, please contact Dr. Brian Glibkowski (e:bglibkowski@stonehill.edu; p:508.565.1415).

Sponsors