Creating dialogue by storytelling

Anne Pässilä (Lahti School of Innovation, Lappeenranta University of Technology, Lahti, Finland)
Tuija Oikarinen (Lahti School of Innovation, Lappeenranta University of Technology, Lahti, Finland)
Anne Kallio (Lahti School of Innovation, Lappeenranta University of Technology, Lahti, Finland)

Journal of Workplace Learning

ISSN: 1366-5626

Publication date: 29 March 2013



The objective of this paper is to develop practice and theory from Augusto Boal's dialogue technique (Image Theatre) for organisational use. The paper aims to examine how the members in an organisation create dialogue together by using a dramaturgical storytelling framework where the dialogue emerges from storytelling facilitated by symbolic representations of still images.


The study follows the lines of participatory action and art‐based research. The data are collected from 13 dramaturgical work story storytelling sessions in four different organisations. The research design belongs to the tradition of research‐based theatre, which implies artful inquiry, scripting and performance in research.


The paper presents a model for organisational dialogue. The model illustrates the dramaturgical storytelling of work story which influences problem shifting in a positive way.

Research limitations/implications

The limitations of this study are related to the scope of the research. The Scandinavian cultural context facilitates an open, bottom up process. More case studies in different kinds of environments should be conducted. In the future it might be advantageous to conduct more longitudinal studies on how organisations can nurture continuous dialogue.

Practical implications

Work story as a dialogue practice facilitated members from the same occupational groups to share experiences with each other and construct common interests by investigating unstructured and uncertain social situations at work.


The paper combines research fields that explore art‐based initiatives within organisations, workplace learning and innovation research.



Pässilä, A., Oikarinen, T. and Kallio, A. (2013), "Creating dialogue by storytelling", Journal of Workplace Learning, Vol. 25 No. 3, pp. 159-177.

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