Organization Management Journal


With notable exceptions, the organization studies literature has tended to exclude a consideration of time from considerations of narrative identity. Building on the work of Ricoeur, and starting from the position that narrative identity is dynamic and rests on a temporal structure, it is suggested that narrative identity emerges from the poetic composition of one or many narrative texts. Drawing upon Ricoeur’s conception of narrative identity, an analytic framework is developed and encompasses a dialectic where narrative is described as the path of character, and character as the path of narrative. Narrative identity, in conclusion, is a reflexive consideration of a character’s ethical intentions: how a character aims to live a good life, with and for others, in just institutions. The paper suggests that there is value in developing a hermeneutics of narrative identity principally because the notion of narrative identity helps to clarify the relationship between character, plot, and ethics. In addition, the framework has value because it can be applied in the modest space of an organizational setting and to a collective or a community as well as to an individual. The limits of the framework are briefly explored and in closing the paper suggests ways of addressing the key questions that emerge from the study.