The article “Relaaax, I remember the recession in the early 1980s . . .”: Organizational storytelling as a crisis management tool” (Kopp, Nikolovska, Desiderio, & Guterman, 2011) discusses organizational storytelling as an efficient tool to alleviate stress and to increase resilience of employees during economic decline. The main thesis of the authors is that organizational storytelling should be a component of crisis management programs at various business organizations. The authors identify sensemaking as the process, which lies at the foundation of organizational storytelling, distinguishing between here-and-now and prospective sensemaking. Defining crisis as inherently narrative, Kopp, Nikolovska, Desiderio, & Guterman (2011) hypothesize that storytelling with its success images and mottoes can be effective way to mitigate the consequences of crises. Relying on the organizational storytelling typology developed by O’Neill, the authors recount the characteristics of descriptive, anecdotal, script and epic stories in the context of their functions in companies. It is observed in the article that crisis management and HRD disciplines have much in common in the area of organization behavior and it is thus proposed that storytelling should be implemented as HRD’s learning and prevention toolkit before, during and after recession.

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The purpose of the article is to persuade the readers that organizational storytelling should be used as one of the central crisis management tools, as well as to inform them on different types of stories and their implications. The informative goal is achieved through recounting of O’Neill’s typology in detail. To prove their main thesis, the authors refer to the bulk of empirical research that has demonstrated positive effects of organizational storytelling on the performance and knowledge sharing among employees. Also, the article mentions bright examples of Hewlett Packard and Federal Express where stories are used to inspire and reinforce the morale of employees. The authors demonstrate the power of organizational storytelling as a crisis management tool with the example of the 1953 speech “Checkers” by then-senator Nixon, which resonated with his addressees due to its symbolism and values. Moreover, they refer to the narratives created by Ronald Reagan and by Trinity Broadcasting Network. Procter & Gamble is used as an example of a storytelling company that not only survived but thrived during the Great Depression. Therefore, the authors use multiple narrative examples to prove that storytelling has more implications in business setting than it is traditionally believed. The article is effective to persuade the readers that storytelling should be used in organizations during recession, while it does not provide precise instructions on how it should be implemented.

  • Kopp, D.M., Nikolovska, I., Desiderio, K.P. & Guterman, J.T. (2011). “Relaaax, I remember the recession in the early 1980s . . .”: Organizational storytelling as a crisis management tool”. Human Resource Development Quarterly 22(3): 373-385.