Narrative as a tool

Narrative as a tool - Texas Speech Communication Journal,...

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Texas Speech Communication Journal, Vol. 29, No. 2, Winter 2005, pp. 118-130 Narrative as a Tool in Organizational Socialization: Secular Sermonic Rhetoric in Employee Orientation Programs Julie Davis Organizational narratives can be useful as organizations socialize new hires. They are especially useful for imparting an organization's history, mission, goals, and values to organizational newcomers. Some of these narratives can function as secular sermonic rhetoric when (1) the rhetor takes the role of prophet, (2) the rhetor exhorts the audience to act on shared beliefs, (3) the audience participates in message creation, and (4) the discourse uses monologic narratives to illustrate morals and values. Along with a discussion of these characteristics, this essay also presents a brief discussion of narrative’s importance to organizational communication, especially in socialization situations and provides a case study of how an organization uses secular sermonic rhetoric in its new employee socialization program. Recent psychological research has examined the role that storytelling takes in socializing young children into their culture. It has found that adults tell children stories to teach them what to believe and how to behave. Although this research focuses mainly on the storytelling practices of middle class European American children, Miller and her colleagues’ (1997) findings extended that practice to include children in other cultural groups and people of all ages being socialized into a variety of organizations. For instance, Pribble (1990) examined the narrative based orientation program used by a pacemaker company to integrate new employees into the organization, much like children are introduced into their culture. Brown (1985) argues that "Organizational socialization consists of the methods through which members learn the behaviors, values, and norms appropriate to their positions with in the organization" (p. 27). Chao and her colleagues (1994) divide socialization research into two schools (p. 730). One of these schools focuses on the content, or actual information learned by newcomers (C. Fisher, 1986; Brown, 1985). Much of the research belongs to the other school, which examines the process of socialization, including the stages through which newcomers pass en route to becoming organizational members (Feldman, 1981; Louis, 1980) and the information seeking behaviors they use to pass through those stages (Miller & Jablin, 1991; Comer, 1991). Yet, surprisingly little research has examined the forms that socialization practices take to move organizational members through the stages of socialization and give them the information they need. Jablin (2001) comments on this gap in the literature: [A]lthough a considerable amount of research has been directed at testing typologies of socialization strategies and tactics, few studies have explicitly focused on unpacking the communication attributes and the specific kinds of messages associated with the enactment of the strategies and tactics… [The
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This note was uploaded on 02/02/2012 for the course COM 410 taught by Professor Jenniferwaldeck during the Spring '11 term at Chapman University .

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Narrative as a tool - Texas Speech Communication Journal,...

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