Not just a bedtime story: NMSU professor applies storytelling to business management

August 7, 2008 by Justin Bannister NMSU News Center

Storytelling is not just for kids anymore. David Boje, a professor in New Mexico State University’s College of Business, will conduct three presentations related to storytelling in organizations. One presentation will include leading a prestigious all-academy showcase symposium, at the August 2008 annual national meeting of the more than 10,000 member Academy of Management in Anaheim, Calif.

“Every organization is a storytelling organization,” Boje said. “They tell stories through their marketing strategies and when they tell their founding story as part of their image management. For many, it’s a matter of noting their stories.”

Boje has been creating insights into organizational storytelling for more than 15 years. In a 1996 article, he showed how the Walt Disney Company, creator of some of our most well-know stories, is itself a storytelling organization. His articles appeared in the two most prestigious academic journals in the business management field, the Administrative Science Quarterly and the Academy of Management Journal.

During the Academy of Management meeting, Boje will join several other prominent Disney scholars for an all-academy showcase session titled “Questions We Ask the Disney Smile Factory.”

This year, Boje is a recipient of the NMSU Research Council’s Distinguished Career Award for Exceptional Achievements in Creative Scholarly Activity. His decades of “storying around” in organizations are culminating with his new book “Storytelling Organizations.” Boje’s other accomplishments include more than a dozen books, numerous book chapters, 117 journal articles, editorships, keynote addresses and more. This year alone, Boje has four books published or forthcoming where he is the author, co-author or editor.

Boje says he applies a more practical side of organizational storytelling, currently working with local artists groups to develop a more thriving art economy in Las Cruces. By getting out the story of the wealth of local arts talent, Boje believes these groups will attract not only customers but also more residents and businesses to this area. An arts convention will take place this September, as part of an initiative developed jointly with local arts groups, city officials of both Las Cruces and Mesilla, and Boje’s NMSU business students.

Boje is also well known for his storytelling slant on corporate ethics. His many articles on the bankrupt corporate giant Enron include “Enron: Whodunit?” written with one of Boje’s favorite co-authors who is also his wife and colleague Grace Ann Rosile. Both have individually and together authored many articles that have taken a narrative perspective on ethics. Each has chapters in Boje’s forthcoming edited volume “Critical Theory Ethics for Business and Public Administration.”

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