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A story's impact on organizational‐culture change

Elizabeth Briody (Cultural Keys LLC, Troy, Michigan, USA)
Tracy Meerwarth Pester (Consolidated Bearing Company, New Vernon, New Jersey, USA)
Robert Trotter (Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff, Arizona, USA)

Journal of Organizational Change Management

ISSN: 0953-4814

Article publication date: 10 February 2012




The purpose of the paper is to explain the successful implementation of organizational applications, and ensuing organizational change, based on a story from a GM manufacturing plant.


The approach involved collecting and analyzing the Hoist Story as part of a multi‐year ethnographic research project designed to identify the key attributes in an ideal plant culture. Through a cooperative process of co‐production, the authors worked in tandem with organizational members on issues related to organizational‐culture change.


The findings emphasize both the Hoist Story's process impact and outcome impact. The Hoist Story was a catalyst for the change process, resulting in a high level of buy‐in across the organization; as such it contrasts with much of the management literature on “planned change.” It also led to the development of several “packaged products” (e.g. a story script, video, collaboration tools) which propelled GM manufacturing culture closer to its ideal – a culture of collaboration. Using employee stories as a means to understand and drive culture change is a largely underdeveloped area of scholarship.


This paper provides value by bridging the gap between theory and praxis. It includes the documentation and cultural analysis of the story, but illustrates how the story evolved into specific organizational‐culture‐change applications. This “soup‐to‐nuts” approach can serve as a model for organizational researchers and change agents interested in spearheading or supporting organizational‐culture change.



Briody, E., Meerwarth Pester, T. and Trotter, R. (2012), "A story's impact on organizational‐culture change", Journal of Organizational Change Management, Vol. 25 No. 1, pp. 67-87.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2012, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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