The ‘Damore Memo’: what is the value of antenarrative in organizational communication?

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Abstract

In 2017, (former) Google employee James Damore shared with colleagues a 10-page memo which ruminated over and rearticulated normative assumptions about gender equity in the technology sector. The memo contested Google’s pro-diversity narrative with ‘fragmented speculations’–or antenarratives–about alternative organizational futures (Boje, Haley, and Saylors 2016, 391). The memo was subsequently leaked to an online news site and a ‘new media event’ formed from the reflexive circulation of discourse of the ensuing controversy Fu (2018). We analyse this corpus of texts in terms of ‘antestories’ being told about Google and we consider how these storytelling episodes align with or challenge the company’s preferred pro-diversity future. We consider the material-discursive conditions which influenced the storytelling episodes and the stories which were ultimately heard (Jorgensen, Strand, and Boje 2013). We argue that ‘Damoregate’ serves as a cautionary tale for organizational communication, particularly the implications of alternative progress narratives in employee ‘antestories’ and the limitations of relying on organizational (ante)narratives in a digital era.

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Sandham, S., & Fuller, G. (2020). The ‘Damore Memo’: what is the value of antenarrative in organizational communication? Continuum, 34(3), 431–447. https://doi.org/10.1080/10304312.2020.1724881

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