Lee, L.-P., Liu, H.-W., Shi, D.-M., Khoo, C.S.G., & Pang, N. (2013). Developing a framework for analyzing organizational stories. In The 5th International Conference on Asia-Pacific Library and Information Education and Practice (A-LIEP 2013): Proceedings (pp. 260-271). Khon Kaen City, Thailand: University of Khon Kaen, Faculty of Humanties and Social Sciences. [PDF]


Stories are becoming an increasingly important knowledge management and knowledge sharing tool to communicate ideas, values and experiences both to internal organizational members and to external stakeholders. This paper reports an initial effort to develop a framework for the analysis of organizational stories. The framework has two major parts: the story framework comprising six elements, and the interaction/communication framework.

The six elements of a story are:

  1. Background to the story—the context in the story itself, the prior situation and events leading up to the story.
  2. Core of the story—the essence or summary of the story, the story in its shortest and simplest form.
  3. Type of story—the story is classified under a category in a typology.
  4. Structure of story—how the story is structured in terms of context, build up, climax, action, reversal, resolution and learning.
  5. Knowledge embedded in the story—the message or knowledge conveyed, the moral of the story.
  6. Function of the story—the purpose for which the story is told.

Underlying these six elements is the Organisational Context in which the story is told. An organisational story is told within a certain context to deliver a message relevant in the context.

Based on the story framework’s six elements, a story analysis instrument was constructed. For each element, there is a series of questions to be answered by the analyst.

Eight selected organizational stories were analysed to assess the utility of the framework, inter-coder similarities and differences, and areas that need improvement. Relations between story type, knowledge embodied and story purpose were explored, and recommendations for crafting organizational stories are made.

Further research is needed to answer the following questions:

  • How are different story backgrounds important? Are there additional elements that are important?
  • What is the core of a story, and how can this be identified? We expect the story core to be a graded concept, i.e. some details of a story will be more core than others. We are carrying out a study to identify the core aspects of sample stories through user recall and recognition. We are also analyzing different versions of the same story to identify the core aspects.
  • In the analysis instrument, we have listed the types of stories, elements of story structure, types of knowledge embodied and types of functions. However, it is not known how complete the categories are, and whether the listed categories are a good way to identify similar and different kinds of organizational stories.
  • What is the effect of stories delivered through different media and communication channels. A story delivered in verbal, written and video form may elicit different interpretations and have different impact.