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Drinking water from flower vases : the story of a crisis in the NHS

The present study examines the storytelling surrounding the organisational crisis at the Mid-Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust over the period from March 2009 to November 2010, based on the data collected from twelve sources and 1274 documents relevant to the case. The study addresses three core questions: How does storytelling relating to one event unfold into multiple stories? How do the roles of storyteller and audience change over time? How does the evolution of storytelling bring about the unintended consequences? The study is grounded in the critical management studies and “managerialist” literatures on stories and storytelling in organisation and derives from these three main elements of its theoretical framework: ante-narrative, poetic delivery, and message simplification. The study suggests that these elements share a unifying notion of speculation. Speculation here is seen as an antidote to the potential stultification of the relationships between the storyteller and the audience in the accounts of storytelling. To counteract such stultification, the study brings the dynamic nature of storytelling to the fore and examines the evolution of storytelling over time using the methodology of frame analysis. Frame analysis identified and traced seven frames that emerged as the storytelling surrounding the crisis evolved. The study found the role of the storytellers and audience became mutually dependent and blurred as the events unfolded. The storytellers and audience were intertwined through a need to maintain a shared account of the events at MSFT. They were bound together through their speculative storytelling in order to answer the questions of “did it really?” and “so what?” The analysis has also identified two unintended consequences of the storytelling surrounding the crisis: sacralisation and memorialisation. Together, these consequences have produced a shield (metaphorically speaking) that has served to protect the organisational structures of the NHS from a more radical questioning.
Date January 2014
CreatorsEvans, David Russell
ContributorsSuhomlinova, Olga; Fitchett, James
PublisherUniversity of Leicester
Source SetsEthos UK
Detected LanguageEnglish
TypeElectronic Thesis or Dissertation

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