Appreciating the power of narratives in healthcare: A tool for understanding organizational complexity and values

Amanda C. Taylor*, Orit Karnieli-Miller, Thomas S. Inui, Steven Ivy, Richard M. Frankel

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Storytelling and narrative analysis have become increasingly popular in organizational research as a means of uncovering the human dimensions of organizational life. We present a case study in which employee narratives were used to uncover the values of 150 high-performing employees in a large healthcare organization. We provide a detailed description of our analytic methods, focusing on value-affirming situations in which actions and values were fully aligned, and value-challenging situations in which one's own or others' actions were not aligned with values. We utilized snowball sampling to select and interview high-performing employees from housekeeping to administration, purposefully excluding physicians, whose stories are the subject of a parallel study not reported here. Our approach was based on Appreciative Inquiry (an organizational change strategy that focuses on what works well and how to get more of it rather than what's wrong with an organization and how to fix it). Our analysis focused on the core values mentioned in each story (the plot), the characters (e.g., self, patient, organization), and how they were positioned (i.e., employee connected to the patient or organization?) Lastly, we discuss the importance of the presentation of findings and describe the implications of this approach for narrative research studies.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHandbook of Communication in Organisations and Professions
PublisherDe Gruyter Mouton
Number of pages24
ISBN (Electronic)9783110214222
ISBN (Print)9783110188318
StatePublished - 29 Aug 2011
Externally publishedYes


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