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When fiction meets theory: Writing with voice, resonance, and an open end

Writing Differently

ISBN: 978-1-83867-338-3, eISBN: 978-1-83867-337-6

ISSN: 2046-6072

Publication date: 24 April 2020


In this chapter, we explore genre-blurring writing, where fiction meets theory, following the argument that texts in management and organisation studies suffer from the ‘textbook syndrome’. The stories that we tell through textbooks not only influence, but also set boundaries for, the way understandings are developed through the eyes of the reader. Often textbooks are written in a way that lead the reader into an idealised linear understanding of an organisation – far from the problems, dilemmas and messy everyday life that managers experience. Our discussion builds on previous literature on writing differently and our own experiences of writing a textbook by involving a professional novelist. Engaging in genre-blurring writing opens up how we think not only about writing, fiction and facts but also in our role as scientists. By situating ourselves, as researchers, at the intersection of fiction and the scientific work, not only new ways of writing, but also of thinking emerge. We discuss three aspects through which fiction challenge and develop our writing and thinking, namely to write with voice, resonance and an open end. Through genre-blurring writing, we create opportunities both to learn and to engage students in learning.




The authors would like to thank their colleague, Lars Strannegård, as well as the novelist, Oline Stig, for the many and very helpful reflections about how to learn, behave and develop in the meeting of theory and fiction. We would also like to thank Jenny Helin and Peter Svensson for their insightful comments about the role of fiction within management education (at a panel discussion, October 2017). Finally, we would like to express our gratitude to the valuable and encouraging comments offered by the editors of this book.


Grafström, M. and Jonsson, A. (2020), "When fiction meets theory: Writing with voice, resonance, and an open end", Pullen, A., Helin, J. and Harding, N. (Ed.) Writing Differently (Dialogues in Critical Management Studies, Vol. 4), Emerald Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 113-129.



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