Fostering learning-in-organizing through narration: Questioning myths and stimulating multiplicity in two performing art schools

  • Abma T
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Abstract

This article is organized around the concept of “learning-in-organizing” to capture the collective, dynamic, and relational nature of how groups of persons, moving together through space and time, can come to gain knowledge and appreciation of a given issue through “storying” their experiences. Learning is understood as an integral part of the process of organizing. I suggest that the character and modes of learning vary depending on the stage of organizing. These move through stages of relative stability (“gaming”) and change (“playing”). The learning that takes place during a relative stable period has the character of monitoring and is primarily problem driven. During change, more complicated learning occurs. Inherited myths and rules are called into question; situations and problems are redefined as a result of the conflicting stories told by social actors. This article covers considerable theoretical and practical ground in outlining and illustrating this dynamic narrative approach to organizational learning. It includes a case concerned with making self-care a public issue among the communities of two performing art schools. The example shows that in situations where inherited narratives are no longer adequate, it is possible to foster transformational learning through reflexive dialogues if participants are willing to share their experiences, to take each other seriously, and to acknowledge multiplicity.

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Authors

  • Tineke A. Abma

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