Source This article is about Disneyland in California. For other similarly named Disney parks and resorts see here. Disneyland is your land.
Abstract Walt Disney enterprises are theorized as a storytelling organization in which an active-reactive interplay of premodern, modern, and postmodern discourses occur. A postmodern analysis of these multiple discourses reveals the marginalized voices and excluded stories of darker side of the Disney legend.
Tamara, a play that is also a discursive metaphor, is used to demonstrate a plurivocal multiple story interpretation theory of competing organizational discourses.
Subsequent sections address storytelling organizational theory, analyses of official accounts of Disney enterprises, and less well-known, even contrary, accounts. The implications for postmodern theory and future storytelling research projects are discussed. Walt Disney enterprises is a storytelling organization par excellence.
The happy stories organization members tell about themselves are as artfully constructed and as carefully edited as their legendary characters.
But just as the question of the Wicked Witch in the film Sleeping Beauty "Mirror, mirror on the wall who is the fairest of them all? My purpose was to form a theory about this storytelling organization, use postmodern analyses to resituate the excluded stories and voices, and then analyze their relationship to the dominant legend of an official, happy, and profitable Disney studios.
This research goes behind the artful and managed happy constructions of the Disney storytelling enterprise to reveal a darker side: In the past, management theorists have written stories without attention to plurality and economic context.
In the "management of writing and writing of management," the construction and choice of the happy story over competing voices is less a search for the truth than a naive political and economic complicity that marginalizes alternative stories.
I demonstrate plurality here by describing Tamara, a play that is a discursive metaphor of the storytelling organization. Discursive metaphors "read" story plurivocality -- the potential for multiple interpretation -- back into the constructions that organizations collectively "write" as their histories.
Therefore, the research question here is, What are the collective and historical dynamics of the storytelling organization, viewed as a Tamara, as it writes its story onto the employees and the public?
Previous research has not explored the multiplicity and contentiousness of collective storytelling processes. This question also speaks to important and timely concerns that organizational theorists are raising regarding the need to craft organization theories on the basis of linguistic e.
Use of a plurality of stories, voices, and realities, as well as a multiplicity of ways to interpret stories, appears in experimental fictions that the French term nouveu roman Heath, ; Zeraffa, The aim of a nouveau roman is to provide multiple forms of discourse.
By discourse, I mean the infinite play of differences in meanings mediated through socially constructed hegemonic practices, especially in stories Boje, a: In this infinite play of differences, some discourses are more hegemonic than others and thus marginalize the other discourses.
Tamara enacts a true story taken from the diary of Aelis Mazoyer. It is Italy, January 10,in the era of Mussolini. Instead of remaining stationary, viewing a single stage, the audience fragments into small groups that chase characters from one room to the next, from one floor to the next, even going into bedrooms, kitchens, and other chambers to chase and co-create the stories that interest them the most.
If there are a dozen stages and a dozen storytellers, the number of story lines an audience could trace as it chases the wandering discourses of Tamara is 12 factorial , As they completed their scene, they each wandered off into different rooms, leaving the audience, myself included, to choose whom to follow.
As I decided which characters to follow, I experienced a very different set of stories than someone following another sequence of characters. No audience member gets to follow all the stories since the action is simultaneous, involving different characters in different rooms and on different floors.
At the play, each audience member receives a "passport" to return again and again to try to figure out more of the many intertwined networks of stories. Tamara cannot be understood in one visit, even if an audience member and a group of friends go in six different directions and share their story data.
Two people can even be in the same room and -- if they came there by way of different rooms and character-sequences -- each can walk away from the same conversation with entirely different stories.
Finally, there is also an indeterminacy about each character. One thinks one is following a chauffeur, who in one discourse changes the rules and becomes a spy disguised as a chauffeur and who then becomes an aristocrat pretending to be a spy pretending to be a chauffeur.
Now, in his love affair with the maid, is he indeed in love with the maid, is he using her to spy on the aristocracy, or is he toying with her as an exploitable subject? Pondy and Mitroff asked the field of management to theorize beyond mechanistic frameworks, clockworks and organic blueprinted growth systems to language-based organizing models symbol-processing, multi-brain systems.
Gephart, in a study of leader succession, conceptualized the storytelling organization as "constructed in the above succession stories as a tool or program for making sense of events" In sum, the storytelling organization as seen in Tamara is a wandering linguistic framework in which stories are the medium of interpretative exchange.
At one extreme, the storytelling organization can oppress by subordinating everyone and collapsing everything to one "grand narrative" or "grand story. By a story, I mean an oral or written performance involving two or more people interpreting past or anticipated experience Boje, a: In this definition, stories do not require beginnings, middles, or endings, as they do in more formal and restrictive definitions Bruner, Stories are referenced with a nod of the head, or a brief "You know the full story," or with a code word or two:THE DISNEY BLOODLINE.
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