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The purpose of the picnic: using Burke’s dramatistic pentad to analyse a company event

Robyn Walker (Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand)
Nanette Monin (Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand )

Journal of Organizational Change Management

ISSN: 0953-4814

Article publication date: 1 June 2001


Uses Kenneth Burke’s “dramatistic pentad” as an analytical framework to analyse a company event that in New Zealand became symbolic of social responsibility in action. Presents the event in which the staff of an Auckland food processing operation was flown to Western Samoa for a weekend “picnic”. Explores the act – what happened; the scene the physical, geographic and cultural milieu of the action; the agent – managing director Dick Hubbard’s individual identity and the role he played out in terms of the action; the agency – the means by which Hubbard was enabled to accomplish this action, and his role in initiating, approving and funding the staff picnic; and finally, the purpose – the intended effect of the action and a consideration of perceived outcomes. Considers the usefulness of the dramatistic pentad to other organisational contexts. Concludes that it provides a useful model to guide the analysis of diverse organisational texts.



Walker, R. and Monin, N. (2001), "The purpose of the picnic: using Burke’s dramatistic pentad to analyse a company event", Journal of Organizational Change Management, Vol. 14 No. 3, pp. 266-279.




Copyright © 2001, MCB UP Limited