Using Traditional Narratives and Other Narrative Devices to Enact Humanizing Business Practices.



Date of this version


Document Type



Humanizing Values, Narratives, Storytelling, Business Practice


This study examines how organizations may embed humanizing narrative devices and related activities in their management control systems to enact humanizing business practices. As defined here, narrative devices include complete stories as well as story fragments that may under certain circumstances invoke a shared narrative context. Humanizing narrative devices respect a person’s dignity and capacity for personal growth, respect human rights, promote care and service for others, and improve an organization’s ability to serve the common good rather than only narrow special interests. The first section discusses the sense-making and action-guiding properties of narrative devices, and then discusses principles for applying them in a manner that respects others in a diverse

workplace. The second section adapts Simons’ (Levers of control 1995) management accounting and control framework to trace interdependencies among an organization’s narrative devices and related activities. The third section applies the combined narrative devices and systems framework to illustrate how an actual company has articulated, debated, revised, and enacted its core values over time. The concluding section discusses the analysis, its contributions to the literature, and implications for future research.

Published in

Journal of Business Ethics

Citation/Other Information

139(1), 1-19

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.