Conversion stories as shifting narratives of organizational change

Melanie Bryant (Department of Management, Monash University, Churchill, Victoria, Australia)
Julie Wolfram Cox (School of Management, RMIT Business, RMIT University, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia)

Journal of Organizational Change Management

ISSN: 0953-4814

Publication date: 1 December 2004


This paper is concerned with how employees talk about their experiences of organizational change and focuses specifically on the construction of conversion stories. These are particularly positive narratives that consider change as a turning point in which individuals depart from an old way of life pre‐change to embrace a post‐change organization. In this study, employees seek conversion into management groups and report the values and philosophies of management in their narratives, thus highlighting the benefits of change while suppressing any negative aspects. This paper draws attention to the dramatic nature of the conversion story and explores the sharp distinction between the reporting of experiences prior to and after change. We also investigate the relationship between constructing conversion stories and gaining personal and career advancement at work and suggest that beneath the positive exterior of the conversion narratives lies a theme of silence, which may be related to career advancement. Our findings suggest that such stories of silence complicate the conversion story as an example of positive organizational change and discuss implications for both the theory and practice of narrative change research.



Bryant, M. and Wolfram Cox, J. (2004), "Conversion stories as shifting narratives of organizational change", Journal of Organizational Change Management, Vol. 17 No. 6, pp. 578-592.

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Copyright © 2004, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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