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Contesting the dominant narrative: expanding the multistory cultural change approach

Martijn van Ooijen (Faculty of Social Science, Department of Organization Science, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Amsterdam, Netherlands)
Antonie van Nistelrooij (Department of Organization Sciences, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Amsterdam, Netherlands)
Marcel Veenswijk (Department of Organization Sciences, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Amsterdam, Netherlands)

Journal of Organizational Change Management

ISSN: 0953-4814

Article publication date: 20 February 2020

Issue publication date: 22 April 2020




The purpose of this paper is to expand the theory on multistory cultural change by showing how a dominant narrative on construction safety dynamically interrelates and is contested on multiple intertextual levels in an organizational field of organizations contributing to the recovery of houses in an earthquake region.


An ethnoventionist research approach was adopted in which interpretation of data to find narratives and designing interventions went hand-in-hand.


We found four distinctive composite narratives besides the dominant narrative to which five actors refer in their accounts, thereby contributing to three types of story patterns. These narratives disclose the taken-for-granted ideas and beliefs that characterize the challenge of changing organizational culture. One intervention, which intended multiple stories to touch the surface, was highlighted as a multistory intervention.

Research limitations/implications

Further research could extend the knowledge on other change interventions that contribute to multistory cultural change processes.


Adopting an ethnoventionist approach to provide deep insights on an unfolding cultural change process for both scholars and practitioners.



This research received no specific grant from any funding agency in the public, commercial, or not-for-profit sectors. However, three students from Rijksuniversiteit Groningen that have performed interviews have received an internship compensation for their efforts.


van Ooijen, M., Nistelrooij, A.v. and Veenswijk, M. (2020), "Contesting the dominant narrative: expanding the multistory cultural change approach", Journal of Organizational Change Management, Vol. 33 No. 2, pp. 217-228.



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