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Once upon a time in Africa: a case study of storytelling for knowledge sharing

Peter K.J. Tobin (Gordon Institute of Business Science, University of Pretoria, Sandton, South Africa)
Retha Snyman (Department of Information Science, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa)

Aslib Proceedings

ISSN: 0001-253X

Article publication date: 21 March 2008




The purpose of this paper is to report on research conducted into the use of stories and storytelling to share knowledge in a large mining company based in South Africa. The paper shows how the use of oral methods combined with other media can be used to support a number of different objectives and yield a wide variety of benefits.


This paper presents the results of a case study which used a largely qualitative approach to gather data on a specific community of practice within the case study company.


The research identified an innovative approach being used to combine a number of approaches to sharing knowledge through the use of stories and storytelling, in particular graphical representation of the stories and the use of graphics in conjunction with oral storytelling methods.

Research limitations/implications

This research was conducted in only one company, in one country. Further research would be necessary to further test the effectiveness of the approaches identified in this case.

Practical implications

The innovative approach of combining media and methods for sharing knowledge through stories and storytelling represent an opportunity for other organisations to use similar techniques in their efforts to improve knowledge sharing.


This is the first time that a case study exploring the use of stories and storytelling in the South African mining industry has used empirical research findings to evaluate the use of stories and storytelling. Significant value may be gained by others seeking to understand how best to use stories and storytelling to share knowledge.



Tobin, P.K.J. and Snyman, R. (2008), "Once upon a time in Africa: a case study of storytelling for knowledge sharing", Aslib Proceedings, Vol. 60 No. 2, pp. 130-142.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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