Storytelling as a Qualitative Method for IS Research: Heralding the Heroic and Echoing the Mythic

Julie E Kendall, Kenneth E Kendall

Abstract


Storytelling in organizations has long been overlooked (and sometimes derided) as a qualitative research method. However, we propose the use of storytelling as a powerful approach for information systems (IS) researchers. We conceptualize stories within the framework of the social construction of technology, using an interpretivist perspective. Each story serves an intended purpose, which corresponds to the functions of classical myths. We recommend that researchers characterize stories as performing one of four functions we classified as the experiential, explanatory, validating, or prescriptive identified. We emphasize complete stories, rather than narrative fragments. Stories possess many common elements. We provide caveats and limitations to the use of storytelling as a qualitative research method. We reveal the usefulness of storytelling for IS researchers as distinct from other favored qualitative methods such as interviewing, metaphors, observation, and the use of analysis software packages.

Keywords


qualitative research methods, organizational storytelling, social construction of technology, information systems research, narrative

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3127/ajis.v17i2.697

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ISSN: Online: 1326-2238 Hard copy: 1449-8618
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