There is a multiplicity of plots to be analyzed in this second SEPTET element. The plots change over time, they enroll and disenroll the cast of characters and the spectators to Enron Metatheatre. The plots are scripted orally and in writing in the dialogs of Enron. And the plots are embedded in ideological frames; in short, plots are expressed in all seven SEPTET dimensions.
Plots are defined by Boje (2001a: 108) as "not just a chronology of events: but rather each plot "connects... the chaining of cause and effect or stimulus and response into a pattern, structure or network. Plot also relates to tracing the microhistory and textuality of relationships between obstacles to human intentions, antecedents, behavior, contexts and outcomes in webs of other events." No, plot is not chronology. Plot "links events together into a narrative structure" (p. 108). We usually think of plots as a typology of romance, satire, comedy, and tragedy. But there is more to it than that. Paul Ricoeur (1984) in Time and Narrative, refers to "emPLOTment" the grasping together of some events from chronology and some time episodes with some Characters crafted into a meaningful storyline that (re)configures chronological time into fictive story (See Boje, 2001a: 114). In Ricoeur's emplotment, the plot is the second of three moments in a hermeneutic circle. The first moment is all the preunderstanding and prestory (what Boje calls antenarrative) that is needed to make a plot communicable. The second moment, plot, grasps together some chronological events and some characters into a narrative structure, a storyline that is built upon antenarrative. In the third moment, the plot contextualizes into the material conditions, emplotment into the experiential and into the phenomenology of time. And this spiral continues in feedback loops back to the first and second moment, in cycles of contextualization and decontextualization, in plot revisions, and in changes in the cast of characters. In this way there is a preunderstanding (you have to know the language & context meaning to make a plot communicate) and a followability (you have to be able to follow the story) to plots that situate into what Rosile and I call the Metatheatre of capitalism. Now we can move to the antenarrative preunderstanding of the plots that had greater and lesser followability for investors, regulators, politicians, business professors, students, and employees.
Plots come in webs of inter-plots, extending from distant causes to proximate ones. I think many plot analyses of Enron focus on the proximate causes (Boje, 2001a), but do not see the more distance causes, the rhythmic vibrations, there from the get go. To understand rhythms is to trace the inter-weave of necessary, contributory, sufficient, remote, proximate, psychological, successionist, and antenarrative causal strands (Boje, 2001a). An analysis of this kind would interweave chronology of Enron's rise and fall with plot patterns of cause and effect, noting the different types of causal assertion used by various stakeholders:
Necessary causes - must be present for an effect to occur.
Contributory causes - may lead to an effect but not not produce it by this strand alone.
Sufficient cause - a strand that can produce an effect all by itself e.g. bankruptcy will collapse a stock price).
Remote causes - a rhythm quite distant from an effect. In chaos on complexity called Butterfly Effect.
Proximate causes - located close in time and space ot the effect.
Psychological causes - Enron, for example, is said to be the result of hubris, greed, and a lack of MBA ethics training. But this may be illusory correlations (two events with no connective rhythm).
Successionist causes - Rhythms that are not 'rea' phenomenon, but somewhere between a fiction of the theatre of the mind and a coincidence of occurrences (e.g. illusory correlations). Henri Bergson, for example, contends life is not bound by exact causal sequences. Max Weber said we know events are correlated, but it is difficult to trace causality. Frederick Nietzsche says it may be we have an effect and set out in search of the cause (See Boje, 2001a: 99).
Antenarrative causes - in the Whirlwind theory of antenarrating, tracing the trajectories of narrative constructing, and the recovering the storied circumstances of causal maps is mighty difficult. The challenge is to trace the situated assertions as they traverse and construct relationships in an interpersonal [or inter-institutional] network" (Boje, 2001a: 107).
A variety of narrative and antenarrative causal assertions and attributions connect Metatheatre to the economic plots and inter-plot webs of Enron.
NEXT - See Plot and Emplotment by David M. Boje (June 7, 2001; revised July 29, 2002). Here I build upon Ricoeur (1984) to develop a theory of emplotment. Emplotment covers the three mimetic (imitative) moments of emplotment in the hermeneutic spiral (see also Boje, 2001a). Here is a brief summary of the spiral of emplotment as it moves through three moments:
M1 MIMESIS ONE - Plot in this first mimesis is defined as the ordering of action events, symbolism, and temporality. And there are pre-narrative experiences that refuse to be narrated (antenarrative).
M2 MIMESIS TWO - or emplotment, the grasping together of selected events, characters, and actions into a plot line. Emplotment, then, can be defined as the grasping together of characters, plot, scenes, etc., that plays its mediating role between time and narrative.
M3 MIMESIS THREE - In the Circle of Mimesis the end point (temporality) leads back to (or anticipates) the starting points, our pre-understandings (semantic structure of action, resources for symbolization, or temporal character) across the mid-point (emplotment).
From a critical postmodern perspective, I have one challenge to Ricoeur (1984). That is, the M3 does not take into account the critical aspects of the system. For example, a system without integrity, as in the case of Enron is spiraling out of control, within capitalism whose checks and balances are fictives of the Theatres of Capitalism (Boje, 2002c).
Plots are strategic to business enterprises. Plots are realized in antenarratives and some become narratives; most are just committee and consulting documents. Barry and Elmes (1997), for example, have applied the concept of narrative plot to organizational strategy; its possible plot lines, characterizations, and themes. For more background on this topic, See Plot and Emplotment by David M. Boje (June 7, 2001; revised July 29, 2002).
What are the em-plot-ments of Enron? Enron plots are multiple and inter-connected. They are revised with each new chronological situation (acts and scenes) and with each emergent pre-understanding that re-plots the chronology. In short, the plots undergo historical revisionism to accommodate emerging events and possible exposure of the alleged fraud of off-the-balance-sheet raptors (e.g. LJM, Chewco, Condor, OB-1, etc.) as well as the political influence ties between Enron and WB, IMF, and WTO, as well as to democrat and republican politicians and administrators (linked by money, contracts, and Enron consulting and board appointments). If you are serious about plots, then go to the Nexus-Lexus on line archive and lay out the plots of Enron in chronological order as they are reported; then note the re-plots as a network of institutions from the Business College to the Whitehouse re-plot Enron to distance their own complicity.
Our point is quite simple. Enron is Theatre. Enron accomplishes its theatre to persuade and seduce employees, investors, and students into the willing suspension of disbelief through its plots. We live in what Boje (2002c) calls Theatres of Capitalism, in what Guy Debord (1967) calls the Society of the Spectacle and what our friends A. Fuat Firat and Nikhilesh Dholakia call the Political Economy of Theatres of Consumption (1998).
Barry, David & Michael Elmes (1997) “Strategy retold: Toward a narrative view of strategic discourse.” Academy of Management Review, 22(2) 429-452.
Boje, David M. (2001a) Chapter 7: Plot Analysis. In Narrative Methods for Organizational and Communication Research. London: Sage.
Boje, D. M. (2002a). Critical
Dramaturgical Analysis of Enron Antenarratives and Metatheatre. Plenary
presentation to 5th International Conference on Organizational Discourse: From
Micro-Utterances to Macro-Inferences, Wednesday 24th - Friday 26th July
Boje, D. M. (2002b) Enron
Metatheatre: A Critical Dramaturgy Analysis of Enron’s Quasi-Objects. Paper
presented at the Networks, Quasi-Objects, and Identity: Reintegrating Humans,
Technology, and Nature session of Denver Academy of Management Meetings. Tuesday
August 13, 2002.
Boje, D. M. (2002c) Theatres of Capitalism. Book being published by Hampton Press (San Francisco). Available until publication, on line, at http://business.nmsu.edu/~dboje/theatrics/index.htm (password is required).
Boje, D. M. & G. A. Rosile (2002a). The Metatheatre Intervention Manual. To be published by ISEOR Research Institute of University of Lyon 2, France. http://business.nmsu.edu/~dboje/theatrics/index.htm (password is required).
Boje, D. M. & G. A. Rosile (2002a). Theatrics of SEAM. Paper to be
published in Journal of Organizational Change Management Special Issue on
Socio-Economic Approach to Management (SEAM), guest edited by Henri Saval.
Ricoeur, P. (1984). Time and Narrative, Volume 1, Translated by K. McLaughlin and D. Pellauer, Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.
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|1. Characters||1. Characters|
|2. Plots||2. Plots|
|3. Themes||3. Themes|
|4. Dialogs||4. Dialogs|
|5. Rhythms||5. Rhythms|
|6. Frames||6. Frames|
|7. Spectacles||7. Spectacles|