Narrative Rhetorics in Scenario Work: Sensemaking and Translation

by Zhan Li


With Jerome Bruner and Walter Fisher’s work on narrative as a starting point, this article presents a narrative-based approach to theory-building for scenarios—relevant for futures narratives broadly defined—that conceives of them as sensemaking and rhetorical efforts for organizations that seek to catalyze decision and action through futures work. The organizational sensemaking theories of Karl Weick are combined with the rhetorical and narrative perspective of Actor-Network-Theory from which the key concept of ‘translation’ is drawn. Weick’s work emphasizes the disruption of established and routine organizational certainties as occasions for sensemaking–that is, sites and opportunities for new accounts of reality that describe and enable options for action in the face of equivocality. Futures exercises fit well into this conception.(continue…)

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