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How Stories Can Be Used in Organisations Seeking to Teach the Virtues

The Contribution of Fiction to Organizational Ethics

ISBN: 978-1-78350-949-2, eISBN: 978-1-78350-948-5

ISSN: 1529-2096

Publication date: 12 September 2014


Our focus is on the use of narrative in ethics education in organisations. The effectiveness of stories as a basis for executive education and organisational development has been described in other chapters in this book and elsewhere. Many writers provide examples linking stories and ethics, but the examples are drawn most often from overtly ethical stories. We offer a more expansive and inclusive view, suggesting that all stories are valuable for teaching ethics. We use Booker’s (2004) finding that all stories belong to one of seven basic plots – overcoming the monster; rags to riches; the quest; voyage and return; comedy; tragedy; and rebirth – to show that no major category of narrative need be omitted from those which can provide examples or links to the development of virtue in organisations. We provide examples of how stories can be used to encourage the development of specific virtues including courage, integrity, hope, inquisitiveness, humour and prudence. Six further aspects are considered – whether only moral stories are useful, the value of complexity, the benefit of familiarity, stories of failure, the selection of appropriate stories and whether non-fiction can be included.



Illes, K. and Harris, H. (2014), "How Stories Can Be Used in Organisations Seeking to Teach the Virtues", The Contribution of Fiction to Organizational Ethics (Research in Ethical Issues in Organizations, Vol. 11), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 169-190.



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