Six Antenarrative Questions Behind Storytelling

6 Antenarrative Questions Behind Storytelling BOJE Nov 24 2019.png

  1. WHO BENEATH plots our abstracting narrative roles? We have an example in New York Times Nov 24 2019. “Every one is playing their assigned role in a  drama where the ending seems knowing in advance as the House of Representatives heads toward a likely party line vote to impeach the president, followed by a Senate trial which will not convict him.”  This is the usual dialectic of narrative-counternarrative playing out in US politics. It’s two monologics in opposition See Bakhtin (1973, p. 12) “…narrative genres are always enclosed in a solid and unshakable monological framework. ”Theoretic narrative posits mono-system-wholeness, mergedness, representational coherence, and finalizedness. His counter-move is to treat story as a dialogic; what he terms the “polyphonic manner of the story” (Bakhtin 1973, p. 60).”
  2. WHICH BETS are futuring now? The futures are arriving, several at once, and we can prepare in advance for ones we want to help manifest.
  3. WHEN future’s REHISTORICIZING BEFORE?  My theory of time is with each bet on the future, a prism of diffracting opens to shine light on a history to justify it.
  4. WHAT lies BEYOND flashes of intuition? For Kant the Beyond was in the universal hereafter, but for Hegel the spirit manifests in-the-world. Marx ignored spirit for the material conditions. Me I am a shamanic apprentice, so there are many lower and upper world spirits that manifest.
  5. WHERE’s the grounding BETWEEN living stories? Living stories are, for me, always indigenous ways of being (IWOB) and indigenous ways of knowing (IWOK). Some poststructuralists such as Mikhail Bakhtin noticed the polyphonic dialogism of [living] stories and how narratives are always monologic. We are between other dialogisms: stylistics, chronotopic, and architectonic (has ways of moving beyond Kant’s cognitive architectonic).
  6. WHY we’re all BECOMING answerable to Heart-of-Care?  As a young man Mikhail Bakhtin wrote about the difference between the bystander (special) answerability and a moral answerability to intervene in wrong-doing when we are the person there in the once-occurrent event-ness of Being.

These six antenarrative questions help get us to all that is pre-narrative and pre-story, out of which the grand narratives and the living stories become constituted. At Cabrini University we worked on an Iceberg way of developing the 6 B’s of Antenarrative.

iceberg REVISED of the b's.png

Grace Ann and I just returned from France. Here are some slide sets from France: Continue reading

Constellation Storytelling Revolutions

What’s your living story? Most people don’t know their own living story. We grow up learning to recite our career narrative, but that’s not a living story. A living story has a place, a time, and a mind (an aliveness all its own). A living story exists in a web of living stories, each interrupting the other’s telling, and always unfolding in the middle, without the usual narrative beginning-middle-end linear time concept (Jørgensen & Boje, 2010).

Storytelling Constellations Our ‘living stories’ are part of ‘storytelling constellations’ that are not usually in a translatory motion.  The stories are not moving in one common direction. We can move beyond the translatory motion concept. We can also move beyond the “rectilinear time concept” (Arendt, 1963: 19), and this brings us into storytelling patterns of today’s super wicked complexity: climate change, climate denial, global warming, peak oil, peak water, plastic pollution, and the awareness sixth extinction is happening (Boje, 2019a).

Does your living story move within a constellation of living stories? In Tamara-land (Boje, 1995) I theorized storytelling organizations that were outside the rectilinear time concept. In storytelling organizations, we are not all in the same time, engaging the matters at hand (Boje, 2008).


Figure 1: Tamara-land, chancing living stories from room to room

For example, in the Disney corporation, people are in different rooms, in different buildings, in different countries. Storytelling is simultaneous, and you cannot be every place at once. So you are chasing living, unfolding stories, from place to place, and rely on digital technology, hallway catchup storytelling conversations, and so on, with those who were in other places or in touch with those in other places.

How do Spirals of Storytelling Constellations Work?

Is your living story moving about the same axis of the storytelling constellation? One of the earliest multi-directional spiral theories was proposed by Plato. Plato describes a twisted double spiral, with multiple whorls being spun by three Sirens: Atropos, Clothos, and Lachesis. (Boje, 2019b) They are spinning whorls to weave each person’s life line in Plato’s conception of time.  Atropos turns the inner whorls of the future. Clotho turns the middle whorls of the present. Lachesis turns the outer whorls of the past.

“…singing of past, present, and future, responsive to the music of the Sirens; Clotho from time to time guiding the outer circle with a touch of her right hand; Atropos with her left hand touching and guiding the inner circles; Lachesis in turn putting forth her hand from time to time to guide both of them” (Plato, p. 119).

Depending on the spinning they do, this is your life story, your destined path. The lower part of the spiral, is where the unjust are punished, then renewed, reincarnated to try it all over again.


Figure 3: Double Twisted Spiral in Plato’s The Republic (drawing by Boje)

Storytelling organizations keep trying to convince themselves and spectators that they are moving in one direction. They keep trying to brand themselves with a petrified beginning-middle-end narrative, and then letting people go who have a different story to tell. On flip day, if those who worked for an acquired community bank could not stick to the contrived Well Fargo script, they no longer had a job.

One has to ask if we are moving about a spiral axis, like a rope tied to a May Pole.  Is the rope at a fixed length so we move in perfect rotations around the axis, in cycle after cycle of some job, doing the same thing day in, day out?  More likely the spiral is shorting , so the rope attached to the May Pole gets shorter, or unravels, getting longer.


Figure 4: Spiral of Growth of Neoliberal Capitalism in Anthropocene 

Neoliberal capitalism has the monologic of the growth spiral that actively resists any other logic, such as zero growth. The problem with the growth spiral is it keeps extracting more and more planetary resources, and exceeding planetary boundaries.


Figure 5: Planetary Boundaries being Exceeded (

As the growth spiral of neoliberal capitalism continues, more planetary boundaries are exceeded, such as fresh water availability, chemical pollution, etc. We need some storytelling beyond the Anthropocene (Nelson, 2013).

We need a Revolution Not Just a Rebellion 

A revolution shoes aim is freedom in order to usher in a new error is not the same as a rebellion.  We have been unwinding the growth spiral since the industrial revolution and now there is growing awareness of the global warming, and some efforts to keep average global temperature increases to 1.5 degrees Celsius. But the spiral growth of late modern capitalism has crossed so many planetary boundaries that puts multispecies storytelling ahead of humancentric storytelling (Haraway, 2016), so all our survival is not at risk.  I joined Extinction Rebellion. I hope that politicians will want to avoid traffic sit ins and declare climate emergency. Still I am a skeptic at heart.  The dice are loaded in favor of neoliberal growth spiraling. The political game is rigged in favor of the oligarchy who funds political campaigns to prevent the Extinction Rebellion from prompting a shift in economic policy. Maybe its time to have Corporate Extinction Rebellion. 100 corporations are responsible for over 70% of CO2 emissions, but they are resisting, funding the climate denial, financing the political campaigns.  I want to be optimistic, and believe that Extinction Rebellion will change all that.

In constellation storytelling, the motion of all living stories is considered in their constitutive relational patchers. One force wants to curtail the planetary boundary crossing, and the other wants to cross at every revolution (every whorl).


Figure 6: Double Twisted Spiral (Source)

Spirals have their revolutions, and their evolutions. In the above image of a double twisted spiral, my telling is the resources or earth are being drained to feed the ever-expanding neoliberal capitalist growth of fossil fuel production and plastic consumer products. As the course of history suddenly begins anew, there is potential emergence for a new story to begin “entirely new story, a story never known o told before” and is about to “unfold” and never was known prior to this revolution (Arendt, 1963: 23): “none of the actors had the slightest premonition of what the plot of the new drama was going to be.”  Where does the novelty story develop its innermost meaning, its plot, and how does it manifest to actors and spectators? (p. 21).

What forces are causing the constellation storytelling movements and motions?

There are elements of “novelty inherent in all revolutions” (Arendt, 1963: 19) including the spiral revolutions in the storytelling constellation. Unique novelty event change a linear pattern into a cyclic, and novelties in the cyclic events, prompt a spiral to emerge, and then as the axis of the spiral ceases its centering power, there are rhizomatic patterns (Boje, 2011).


Figure 7: Ron Finley’s Pool Art in Los Angeles (source)

At the Big Story conference, Ron Finley ( showed me his pool art, a painting of the cyclical, rhizomatic, cyclical, and linear antenarrative patterns. I have been trying to sort out how all four are entangling in storytelling constellations.

Here I want to focus on peaceful revolution, with some Extinction Rebellion, whose aim is liberation from oppression of the multispecies, in order to usher in a new story of freedom, beginning a new story as year one.  We are caught up making revolutions around the axis of neoliberal capitalism growth spiral, when the new story, to begin its year zero, needs to unfold in zero growth, that is unknown in the history of capitalism. Arendt asserts that liberation and freedom are not the same thing.

  1. Liberation from fossil fuel capitalism may be the condition of freedom to do something else, but we are still in big trouble if its done in the growth spiral of every-expanding neoliberal capitalism.
  2. Not everyone has a desire for freedom from the business-as-usual growth spiral of oligarchy having power over democracy, power over tyranny, and power over socialism. There is money for the .1% to make by keeping the game of business-as-usual in play.
  3. For others, liberation from neoliberalism looms large as the very foundation of freedom to create a green capitalism
  4. Is a path of freedom just non-existent in the powerful whorls of neoliberal growth spiral momentum? It seems political leaders of the U.S>, Australia, France, UK, and so on are not concerned with moving along to a post-carboniferous capitalism
  5. Does neoliberal capitalism sell us on triple bottom line (3BL) and circular economy (CE) as two ‘greenwashing’ plots to keep the business-as-usual growth spiral turning out more useless production for mass consumption? See critique of CE on Wikipedia).
  6. Perhaps the buzz over stop using plastic straws, and carrying your own refillable water bottle on planes is another greenwash, the same old reduce, reuse, recycle that does not change underlying systems of natural resource consumption.

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Figure 8: Two Storytelling Strategies 

We need both strategies. 1. Extinction Rebellion to encourage politicians to declare ‘climate emergency’ in nation after nation. 2. Break away from the Business-As-Usual Growth Spiral, and get liberated and free for ‘new story’ to emerge, which as Hannah Arendt says is the “power of locomotion” to “arrive at a place where freedom rules” and “our decider for liberation, to be free of oppression ends, and the desire for freedom as a political way of life begins.”


Figure 9: Storytelling Constellation Transformation (source)

We need a new storytelling constellation, an entire field of Extinction Rebellions and break aways to create ‘new stories’ that have never existed before.

How do you change storytelling constellations? It’s a Tamara-land question. Its understanding that there are a multiplicity of stories, and we have to step up and deal with the storytelling multiplicity in all its complexity dynamics. We have to get beyond trying to force everyone onto the monologic of Business-As-Usual Growth Spiral, what is called in neoliberal discourse, the ‘There Is No Alternative’ (TINA) Narrative. Rather than TINA Narrative, we can start to study the whole storytelling constellation and address transformative change.

We are doing a GAIA STORYTELLING FOR GAIA LEADERSHIP – WEIMAR, VILLA INGRID, 15-18 APRIL 2020: An event hosted by the European School of Governance (EUSG). Join us there.  Find out more about it.


Arendt, Hannah. (1963). On Revolution. NY: The Viking Press.

Boje, D. M. (1995). Stories of the storytelling organization: A postmodern analysis of Disney as “Tamara-Land”. Academy of Management journal, 38(4), 997-1035. [PDF]

Boje, D. M. (2008). Storytelling Organizations. Sage.

Boje, D. M. (2011a). Storytelling and the Future of Organizations: An Antenarrative Handbook.London: Routledge.

Boje, D. M. (2019a). Storytelling in the global age: There is no Planet B. World Scientific.

Boje, D. (2019b), “The Future of the “Spiral Paradigm” in Climate Action”, Boje, D.and Sanchez, M. (Ed.) The Emerald Handbook of Management and Organization Inquiry, Emerald Publishing Limited, pp. 253-261.

Boje, D. M., & Adorisio, A. L. M. (2008). Living between Myths at Wells Fargo Bank. Pp. 127-138 in Monica Kostera (ed.) Mythical Inspirations for Organizational Realities. NY: Palgrave Macmillan. 

Haraway, Donna J. (2016). Staying with the trouble: Making kin in the Chthulucene. Duke University Press.

Jørgensen, K. M., & Boje, D. M. (2010). Resituating narrative and story in business ethics. Business Ethics: A European Review, 19(3), 253-264.

Nelson, Ilka Blue (2013). Storytelling Beyond the Anthropocene.

Plato. The Republic. Accessed Sep 11 2019 at

Call for Elemental Storytelling beyond the Multispecies Storytelling

It’s time for the Storytelling Revolution. We need to go beyond humancentric storytelling. Donna Haraway (2016) has called for ‘multispecies storytelling.’ I support it, and want to call for something beyond it, an ‘Elemental Storytelling’ of water, air, earth, and fire elements. Why? Because ‘True Storytelling’ has to be more than humancentric, and more than multispecies. Neoliberal economics of market capitalism is pushing ‘greenwashing’, the myth making of ‘triple bottom line’ that is just the profit bottom line, and the ‘circular economy’ that is just the growth economy of elemental resource extraction.

The decline of elementals has played a supporting role in the history of philosophic and religious thought, and all that humancentric storytelling. The Industrial Revolution, and the Post-industrial Service Revolution and the Digital Revolution are not leading us to the green revolution to deal with emergencies of the Anthropocene . I joined Extinction Rebellion, but I am not convinced rebellion will get politicians to make policy changes, or prompt the monarch, the oligarchy, or the democracy-archy to make the systemic changes needed to keep average global temperature to the 1.5 degree Celsius jump since the Industrial Revolution. As Hannah Arendt (1963: 22-23) put it its time for “No-rule” no-archy, no single rule monarchy or tyrant, no corporate rule oligarchy, and no majority rule demos (democracy).  I was born in the U.S. and it demos has elected the tyrant, who installs fossil fuel executives and climate deniers in the institutions. Brexit is making its exit, and Australia and Brazil are setting the Earth on fire.

I have been teaching university classes and facilitating workshops in Europe, US, and down under, in the relation between ‘True Storytelling’ and the United Nations 17 Sustainable Development Goals as their problem-based-learning experience.


Figure 1: True Storytelling and the 17 UN SDGs 

Teaching at the universities around the world, I noticed ‘Climate Change Is Conspicuously Absent From College Textbooks’ (see Marlene Simons, 2018). This is certainly true of the business-as-usual texts used in core courses of the world’s management schools. As partial remedy, I assign Rachel Carson’s (1962) Silent Spring, Schumacher’s (1973) Small is Beautiful, and Paul Ekins (1993) Limits to Growth.

If only the UN and EU Agenda 2030 would work. The problem is becoming widely known. Agenda 2030 has been colonized, co-opted, and corrupted by business storytelling, by the business modeling myth making in the plots of triple bottom line (3BL) and circular economy (CE).

Triple Bottom Line (3BL) has the core drivers (greed, growthmania, and fear) and manifests visions spirals of waste, pollution, degradation, depletion, exploitation, poverty, corruption, deprivation, and increasing inequalities of Globalization mythology.

3bl slide as it is

Figure 2: Triple Bottom Line (3BL) always put Profit on top of the pyramid, overpowering Planet and People

The Circular Economy (CE) is another version of TBL, one that is always about pursuit of economic growth, by reusing, repairing, remaking, reusing (material recycling, aka remanufacturing), as if that circularity would actually result in consuming less and less of the Earth’s natural resources. CE is bing pushed by McKinsey & Company. (2014) and a flock of consultants colonizing the EU and UN Agenda 2030.

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Figure 3: The Circularity Logic of the Circular Economy (CE), adapted from Ellen MacArthur Foundation (2016) & Zink & Geyer, 2017)

“The concept of the circular economy is intended to align sustainability with economic growth – in other words, more cars, more microchips, more buildings. For example, the European Union states that the circular economy will “foster sustainable economic growth” (see How Circular is the Circular Economy?).

My colleagues Francisco Valenzuela and Steffen Böhm have an excellent critique of CE. And the Guardian (2017) put it this way “Circular economy isn’t a magical fix for our environmental woes“.  It’s no wonder the EU and UN are so enamored with CE:

“Little wonder. The circular economy model – which aims to use closed-loop production to keep resources in play for as long as possible – is presented as a pragmatic, win-win solution; an almost magical fix for our environmental woes… But this vision ignores the fact that on a finite planet endless economic growth is not an option. And it fails to see that solving our ecological crises means diluting the power of global corporations – not propping them up” (Guardian 2017 by Micha Narberhaus and Joséphine von Mitschke-Collande).

Research by Zink and Geyer (2017: 593) questions the CE engineering-centric assumptions.

“However, proponents of the circular economy have tended to look at the world purely as an engineering system and have overlooked the economic part of the circular economy. Recent research has started to question the core of the circular economy—namely, whether closing material and product loops does, in fact, prevent primary production.”

There are a growing set of critiques of CE (from my critique of CE on Wikipedia). For example, Allwood (2014, 446) discussed the limits of CE ‘material circularity’, and questioned the desirability of the CE in a reality with growing demand. Does CE secondary production activities (reuse, repair, & remake) actually reduce, or ;displace,; primary production (natural resource extraction)?  The problem CE overlooks, its untold story, is how displacement is governed mainly by market forces (McMillan et al., 2012). It’s the tired old narrative, that the invisible hand of market forces will conspire to create full displacement. of virgin material of the same kind (Zink & Geyer, 2017). In the Journal of Production, the critique of Korhonen, Nuur, Feldmann, and Birkie (2018) is that “the basic assumptions concerning the values, societal structures, cultures, underlying world-views and the paradigmatic potential of CE remain largely unexplored.” 

How can Multispecies and Elemental Storytelling Help? Humancentric storytelling is insufficient to the task of responding to the growing catastrophes of the Anthropocene era. A multispecies  storytelling (Haraway, 2016) takes us closer to understanding the nature of living systems of Earth.  It can help us begin to deconstruct the fallacies of 3BL and CE myth making. We need to start Gaiadialogues, storytelling conversations with Gaia. My colleagues and I are working with several labs at European School of Governance on such an initiative (read about it here).

I want to take it a step further by suggesting Elemental Storytelling as a Gaiadialogue. As you know I have been writing about the element water, and how its being colonized and co-opted, even corrupted by water capitalism, by the privatization and commercialization of water.

cover water book Boje.png

The book is in review at World Scientific Press. It can be downloaded here until it is published. As global warming happens, Gaia’s water on the surface, in the atmosphere, heats up, and since water is life, less life will exist on Earth. A hotter ocean water kills fish and the coral reefs. Hotter climate meals the ices sheets and glaciers, raising the sea levels, and putting coastal communities at risk. With hotter oceans and atmospheric vapor there are more hurricanes that are more intense. The global warming heats the ocean water and it becomes more acidic. As global warming occurs more of the water is retained in the atmospheric water vapor, and less falls to earth, so there is less fresh water in the hydrological cycle. If and when the average global temperature exceeds 4 degree Celsius increase since Industrial Revolution, growing food will happen near the poles, and most of humanity will find the Earth very, very inhospitable, as will most all living species. This is what multispecies storytelling is telling us.

There was several thousand years ago a reverence and respect for the elementals: water, air, earth, and fire. Now the elementals are treated as less important than humans and all the species.  We have to find a new path to a zero-growth capitalism (Ekins, 1993), to small is beautiful (Schmacher, 1973), or we are in for a very silent spring (Carson, 1962) for our grandchildren’s children.


Allwood, J. M. 2014. Squaring the circular economy: The role of recycling within a hierarchy of material management strategies. In Handbook of recycling: State-of-the-art for practitioners, analysts, and scientists, edited by E.Worrell andM. Reuter. Waltham, MA, USA: Elsevier.

Arendt, Hannah. (1990). On Revolution. 1963. New York: Viking Press.

Carson, R. (1962/2009). Silent spring.

Ekins, P. (1993). ‘Limits to growth’and ‘sustainable development’: grappling with ecological realities. Ecological Economics, 8(3), 269-288.

Haraway, Donna J. (2016). Staying with the trouble: Making kin in the Chthulucene. Duke University Press.

Korhonen, J., Nuur, C., Feldmann, A., & Birkie, S. E. (2018). Circular economy as an essentially contested concept. Journal of Cleaner Production, 175, 544-552.

McKinsey & Company. (2014). Moving toward a circular economy. Accessed Sep 8 2019 at

McMillan, C. A., S. J. Skerlos, and G. A. Keoleian. (2012). Evaluation of the metals industry’s position on recycling and its implications for environmental emissions. Journal of Industrial Ecology 16(3): 324–333.

Schumacher, E. F. (1973). Small is beautiful: a study of ecomonics as if people mattered. Vintage.

Valenzuela, Francisco;  Böhm, Steffen. (2017) Against wasted politics: A critique of the circular economy Organizing for the post-growth economy Ephemera Journal. 17.1: pp. 23-60.

Zink, T., & Geyer, R. (2017). Circular economy rebound. Journal of Industrial Ecology, 21(3), 593-602.

Critique of Circular Economy as Delusional Storytelling Discourse


Antenarrative Blog Post by David M. Boje Aug 1 2019

Why the Circular Economy Narrative is Delusional Storytelling? It is delusional storytelling discourse because circular economy assumes that economic growth can happen while exceeding the nine planetary limits of life support systems. Sadly, the circular economy narrative and the logic of circularity that needs to be challenged as ‘circular reasoning’ have colonized both the United Nations Agenda 2030 and the European Union Agenda 2030.

What is the circular economy? “A circular economy (often referred to simply as “circularity” is an economic system aimed at minimizing waste and making the most of resources. In a circular system resource input, and waste, emission, and energy leakage are minimized by slowing, closing, and narrowing energy and material loops; this can be achieved through long-lasting design, maintenance, repair, reuseremanufacturing, refurbishing, and recycling” ( The advocates of ‘circular economy’ are consulting firms such as McKinsey, attempting to convince their clients: “a sustainable world does not mean a drop in the quality of life for consumers, and can be achieved without loss of revenue or extra costs for manufacturers.”

I just put in this critique of circular economy in the wikipedia webpage.

Critiques of circular economy (posted as change Aug 1 2019) t

“The logic of the ‘circular economy’ narrative and discourse: business can be as profitable as it has been in the linearity model of grow now, clean up later (focus on short-term gains at expense of long-term externalities). While it is possible to somewhat reduce, reuse, and recycle, in its circularity the circular economy is all about sustainable economy, and sustainable development without limits to growth, that can keep placing more demands for additional natural resources, evermore growth, and does not account for exceeding nine planetary limits on the carrying capacity for all life on planet Earth. Circular economy uses the same logic as ‘triple bottom line’ and therefore merits the same critique. Triple Bottom Line (3BL) of people, planet and profit (aka economic prosperity or by the economic, equity and environment (aka, Triple Bottom Line or 3BL), puts profit/economic ahead of people/equity and planet/environment. As with 3BL, circular economy has robust measures of profit/economic variables but not much on the people/equity or planet/enironment. The premise of the Circular Economy is a set of boundary conditions that ensure all activity translates to contributing toward positive impact for the Triple Bottom Line (3BL) people, planet and profit (aka economic, equity, & environment)

‘Given the all too obvious social and environmental crises associated with out-of-bounds growth capitalism, the circular economy has been one of the main references for rebuilding and reforming a political economy of sustainable growth’ (Valenzuela & Böhm, 2017: 23)” (

I will elaborate by deconstruction of circular economy and put this consultant’s strategy to co-opt the EU and UN into historical perspective.

“In January 2012, a report was released entitled Towards the Circular Economy: Economic and business rationale for an accelerated transition. The report, commissioned by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation and developed by McKinsey & Company, was the first of its kind to consider the economic and business opportunity for the transition to a restorative, circular model” (

The fallacious logic is that circularity narrative is that business can be as profitable as it has been in the linearity model of grow now, clean up later (focus on short-term gains at expense of long-term externalities), which is pretty much status quo business model of late modern capitalism. My assessment is that the narrative self-deconstructs: While it is possible to somewhat reduce, reuse, and recycle, in its circularity the circular economy is all about sustainable economy, and sustainable development without limits to growth, that can keep placing more demands for additional natural resources, evermore growth, and does not account for exceeding nine planetary limits on the carrying capacity for all life on planet Earth. Two clients for circular economy (aka circularity) consulting are the United Nations and the European Union.

Agenda 2030 began with In June 1992, at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, more than 178 countries adopted Agenda 21, a comprehensive plan of action to build a global partnership for sustainable development to improve human lives and protect the environment.

The 8 Millennium Development Goals of the United Nations, initiated 2000, to reduce extreme poverty by 2015,spanned the period between 2000 and 2015.

United Nations gathered in 2015, in New York City, to adopt 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that rely on more than 150 specific targets. SDGs explicitly address the impact of a tidal wave of economic change, which we are witnessing at a global level.

The UN Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development was adopted by all United Nations Member States in 2015. It provides a shared blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and the planet, now and into the future. … The MDGs were replaced by 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) (  On 10 October 2018, ECOSOC and the Second Committee of the General Assembly of the United Nations held a joint meeting on Circular economy for the SDGs: From concept to practice.

The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is an action plan known as the Triple Bottom Line (3BL) of peopleplanet and profit (aka economic prosperity). There are 17integrated and indivisible goals, which balance the three dimensions of sustainable development: the economicequity and environment (aka, Triple Bottom Line or 3BL).

The premise of the Circular Economy is a set of boundary conditions that ensure all activity translates to contributing toward positive impact for the Triple Bottom Line (3BL) peopleplanet and profit (aka economic, equity, & environment). Therefore the 17 goals, and the associated 169 targets and 232 (non-repeating) indicators, represent a strategy plan framework to measure and evaluate the benefits and costs of the Circular Economy.


“Circular Economy for the SDGs: From Concept to Practice General Assembly and ECOSOC Joint Meeting  Draft Concept and Programme for the joint meeting of the Economic and Financial (Second Committee) of the 73 UN General Assembly and the UN Economic and Social Council” accessed Aug 1 2019 at

“In recent years, the circular economy has gained increasing prominence as a tool which presents solutions to some of the world’s most pressing cross- cutting sustainable development challenges. By addressing root causes, the concept of a circular economy, an economy in which waste and pollution do not exist by design, products and materials are kept in use, and natural systems are regenerated provides much promise to accelerate implementation of the 2030 Agenda”

The EU Agenda 2030 is a commitment to eradicate poverty and achieve sustainable development by 2030 world-wide, ensuring that no one is left behind (Transforming our World: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development” including its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and 169 targets was adopted on 25 September 2015 by Heads of State and Government at a special UN summit).

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At the heart of the UN 17 SDGs is the ‘circular economy’ strategy to give a new boost to jobs, growth and investment and to develop a carbon neutral, resource-efficient and competitive economy. According to the circular economy narrative, plotline, “Products and services designed in a circular way can minimize resource use and foster materials’ reuse, recovery and recyclability down the road”

The problem as I discussed in previous posts is that biosphere is the foundation of life on earth, not profit/economics. These SDG’s are fundamental to life on earth.

biosphere sdgs


These social SDGs are important and necessary

society sdgs

These economic ones are Not foundational to continued life on the planet.

economy sdgs

In short, circular economy puts SDGs 7, 8, 9, and 12 as the priority, when what needs to happen is deconstruct the whole narrative monologic that sustainable development is possible if the nine planetary limits are being transgressed (Rockström et al, 2009).

December 2015, the Commission adopted a Circular Economy Action Plan (REPORT FROM THE COMMISSION TO THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT, THE COUNCIL, THE EUROPEAN ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL COMMITTEE AND THE COMMITTEE OF THE REGIONS on the implementation of the Circular Economy Action Plan

COM/2019/190 final accessed Aug 1 2019 at

In the EU, “ In 2016, circular activities such as repair, reuse or recycling generated almost €147 billion in value added while standing for around €17.5 billion worth of investments” (

I would love it if circular economy were an actual plan to reduce plastic production and consumption, plastic pollution, and actual generate zero growth in the plastic production, distribution and consumption.  It is voluntary! It is oriented to the small and medium sized corporations, not the plastic giants, and to consumers volunteering to change their plastic consumerism habits and plastic lifestyle.

“The strategy also identifies key actions enabling multi-stakeholder engagement and collaboration along the value chain. For instance, the call from the Commission on stakeholders to make voluntary pledges triggered strong momentum in the industry to boost the uptake of recycled plastics in products. However, as identified in the accompanying document assessing these pledges, more efforts are necessary to reach the objective set out in the strategy, namely to ensure that 10 million tones of recycled plastics find their way into new products by 2025” (

For more critique of Circular Economy see the following:

Lazarevic, D., & Valve, H. (2017). Narrating expectations for the circular economy: Towards a common and contested European transition. Energy research & social science, 31, 60-69.

Milne, Markus J.(2005). “From soothing palliatives and towards ecological literacy: A critique of the Triple Bottom Line.” Accessed Aug 1 2019 at

Norman, W., & MacDonald, C. (2004). Getting to the bottom of “triple bottom line”. Business ethics quarterly, 14(2), 243-262.

Rockström, J., Steffen, W., Noone, K., Persson, Å., Chapin III, F. S., Lambin, E. F., … & Nykvist, B. (2009). A safe operating space for humanity. Nature461: 472-475.

Valenzuela, F., & Böhm, S. (2017). Against wasted politics: A critique of the circular economy. ephemera: theory & politics in organization, 17(1), 23-60.Accessed Aug 1 2019 at




An alternative to the failed method of semi-structured Interviewing in Business Storytelling Research: The self-correcting storytelling conversation

A version of this blog post has been accepted to appear in

Business Storytelling and the ‘Storytelling Science’ of Self-Correcting Research’. Accepted Aug 12 2019 LJRMB London Journal of Management and Business | Vol:19 | Issue:2 | Compilation: 1.

When it does appear, this post will be removed


Bury semi-structured interviewing as a failed business storytelling methodology and start doing ‘storytelling science’ of self-correcting storytelling interviewing

Antenarrative blogpost  by David M. Boje, Aug 1 2019

It is time to bury semi-structured interviewing as a failed business storytelling and social science methodology.The Hawthorne Studies were transformed, when in July of 1929, after 1600 interviews, they halted the project, and changed their interviewing method from semi-structured and structured interviews they had called the ‘direct approach to questioning’ to the new ‘indirect approach’ in which people told their accounts and stories, without interruption, without the interviewer trying to herd the [storyteller] back so some a priori topics and sub-topics (Roethlisberger, Dickson, Wright, & Pforzheimer: 1939: 203).  The indirect approach to what we (Boje & Rosile, 2019 in this book) now call ‘conversational storytelling’ was found to produce less social desirability effects. Instead of semi-structured interviews, the psychologists and psychoanalysts recommended a purposive conversation.

We (Boje & Rosile, 2019 in prep) propose an alternative to semi-structured interviewing. Our alternative a way of doing a ‘storytelling science’ methodology called, “self-correcting induction” rooted in the work of Charles Sanders Peirce (1933-1937, 5.580, which hereafter means Volume 5, section #580, boldness ours): “In an induction we enlarge our sample for the sake of the self-correcting effect of the induction.”  Just before (5.579) Peirce amplifies his enthusiasm, “So it appears that this marvelous self-correcting property of Reason, which Hegel made so much of, belongs to every sort of science, although it appears as essential intrinsic, and inevitable only the highest type of reasoning, which is induction.” (p. 50 Boje & Rosile in draft of this book you are reading).

What does all this mean to do storytelling conversational interviewing?

  1. It has to be a back and forth, or its an interrogation
  2. It has to be dialogical or it’s reducing of dialogism to monological narrative fallacy
  3. It has to be dialectical, not just TAS narrative-counternarrative explorations in the interviews, if that is even possible, but the N of N dialectic of multiplicity ensembles
  4. It has to be not just Induction, but include Abduction and Deduction.

In each self-correcting phase of storytelling science, there is a cycle of Abduction-Induction-Deduction. Each storytelling conversational interview begins with Abductions that are explored in the interview with Induction inference inquiry. Either form the getgo are after the first cycle, there is Deduction from theories and from theorizing, and adjustments and new Abduction, then second cycle, more Induction, and in each cycle of self-correcting.

It is important because it is in Volume 5 section 580 that Peirce actually uses the term ’self-correcting effect of the induction.”  That said, it is only one part of the triad that Peirce is developing in his writing. By that I mean the cycle of abduction-induction-deduction, and includes four tests. Self-correcting ‘storytelling science’ conversational interviews involve enacting from 1 to 4 tests: (Boje & Rosile, p. 10):

“1.    Refutation test of self-reflexivity conversations,

  1. Critical cross-disciplinary conversations with others,
  2. Understanding scalability processes of nature, and
  3. Doing experiments and practice interventions to get closer to solutions to super wicked water and climate changes ushering in more and more crises are larger and larger scales.”

The four tests (as needed) are done in each cycle of self-correcting storytelling science. It is not the usual gather a bunch of interviews then transcribe them, and come up with a theme analysis to generate a typology. Rather, it’s a back-and-forth storytelling sharing, where you actually write down your Abductive hypotheses BEFORE the storytelling conversation (or participative immersion or experiment or intervention) and then do the Inductive inquiry of the co-sharing storytelling (back-and-forth), and Deductions from theory to local come BEFORE or AFTER each round of conversational interviews. It is therefore inadequate to stick to a protocol of semi-structured questions, since the theory assumptions (deductions), the inquiry (induction) and the propositional assumptions (abductions) change from round to round. The point we are making is to write it down, write out the abductions-inductions-deductions as you go, not post hoc, after-the-fact.For Popper what Peirce calls self-correcting is termed ‘trial and error’ of the scientific method, so we arrive closer to the truth (Popper, 1963: 318).

Keep in mind, semi-structure interviewing is not dialogical, it is interrogation, and it’s also not dialectical. To become dialogical and dialectic means doing ‘conversational interviewing’ where both parties are sharing stories, challenging stories, co-creating stories, in a back-and-forth, two-way exchange, not an interrogation ritual.

The dialogical (polyphony, stylistic, chronotopic, architectonic in Bakhtin, see Boje 2008 on this) is Bakhtin’s work. The four dialogisms are not separate. To have dialogical in a ‘conversation’ means recognition of the difference between what Bakhtin calls the narrative that he says is ‘always monological’ and the [living] story, which is always ‘dialogical.’ And there are the four kinds of dialogical relations in storytelling (polyphony, stylistic, chronotopic, architectonic).  They are entangled and inseparable in real life.

The dialogical is not independent or severed from the dialectical in storytelling conversation interviews, or in the semi-structured interviews.

The dialectical has several forms.  In all kinds of interviewing there are narratives in dialectical relation to counternarratives. This first dialectic is well known as thesis-antithesis-synthesis (TAS). The TAS interviewer has their starting narratives (implicit & explicit, many taken-for-granted) and tersely-told (Boje, 1991) in the questions posed, the inner dialogue, the body language, etc.).  The TAS semi-structured interviewer has an agenda of main questions, topics, follow-up, and probe questions. Each word, each terse construction of a question is embedded in the questioner’s dominant narrative (though much of it is unstated, yet constituted just the same).  The interviewee in TAS encounter with a questioner is trying to fathom the desired response being sought, and dodging the questions in order to embed their own counternarratives. Have you ever noticed people divert from the semi-structured interview protocol, and then the interviewer brings them back to the agenda topics. There is a grand assumption that synthesis between the interviewer and interviewer is resulting from effective communication. We know from the results of the Hawthorne studies that semi-structured interviews result in socially desired response, in interviewees withholding their truthing, their personal experience living stories, and instead obfuscate, dodge, deflect, and just keep silent about that so going on. That is why Hawthorne study brought in psychoanalysts and psychologists to assess all this, and recommended what we are now calling ’storytelling conversational interviews’ the back and forth.  My point in the first dialectic, is that it breaks down, and there is no synthesis, except in the mind of the interviewer, who writes up the transcripts, doctors the interpretation toward their own agenda, and tells a narrative different from the the interviewees (withheld) counternarrative. No synthesis as Adorno stresses in his book. Adorno, T. W. (1973). Negative dialectics, trans. EB Ashton (New York: Continuum, 1973).

The second form of dialectic is difficult to comprehend. It’s the ’negation of the negation’ (N of N) and is developed by Hegel, then redeveloped by Heidegger (1962, Being & Time) and by Sartre (1960).  Sartre, J. P. (1960). Critique of dialectical reason, vol I, theory of practical ensembles. London: New Left Review.  Notice that in the subtitle is the term practical ensembles. Sartre is critiquing Marxian dialectic (TAS) for ignoring the N of N dialectic processes.  Instead of splitting into a thesis and antithesis (or narrative and counternarrative) the N of N dialectic starts with ‘multiplicities’ and what Grace Ann and I call ‘ensembles of multiplicities.’  I try to develop this in Boje (2019). Boje, D. M. (2019). Organizational Research: Storytelling in Action. Routledge and in the text not yet published with Grace Ann. Boje and Rosile doing storytelling science with self-correction method (title not final) storytelling science of self-correcting storytelling conversations

Sartre ensembles multiplicities.png

Figure 2: Is from Boje & Rosile (2019, in prep) showing a sampling of a few of ways Sartre conceives of ensembles of multiplicities

If Hegel, Heidegger, and Sartre are onto something, then TAS dialectic by splitting thesis from antithesis and hoping for synthesis is too gross a move, and misses the N of N dialectic where I think that antenarrative processes are pre-constitutive of both narrative and story. Antenarrative works in the ensemble of diverse sorts of multiplicities. See above figure that gives a sampling of how Sartre uses ensemble in so many different ways.

dialectic and dialogical storytelling processes.png

Figure 1 is from essay Lundholt, M. W., & Boje, D. (2018). Understanding Organizational Narrative-Counter-narratives Dynamics: An overview of Communication Constitutes Organization (CCO) and Storytelling Organization Theory (SOT) approaches. Communication and Language at Work, 5(1), 18-29.

Above are dialectic (TAS) and dialogical processes together in the storytelling arena, without mention that negation of the negation (N of N) that is also part of the storytelling patterns.

Self-correcting ‘storytelling science’ is from work of C.S. Peirce and Karl Popper and several others listed below.  After a lot of reading of all the volumes of Peirce, I came up with this summary, which is extracted from p. 50 (Boje & Rosile):

“We propose a way of doing a storytelling methodology called, “self-correcting induction” from the work of Charles Sanders Peirce (1933-1937, 5.580, which hereafter means Volume 5, section #580): “In an induction we enlarge our sample for the sake of the self-correcting effect of the induction.” Just before (5.579) Peirce examples his enthusiasm, “So it appears that this marvelous self-correcting property of Reason, which Hegel made so much of, belongs to every sort of science, although it appears as essential intrinsic, and inevitable only the highest type of reasoning, which is induction.” (p. 50 Boje & Rosile book in process).


It is important because it is in Volume 5 section 580 that Peirce actually uses the term ’self-correcting effect of the induction.”  That said, it is only one part of the triad that Peirce is developing in his writing. By that I mean abduction-induction-deduction, and includes four tests. Self-correcting ’storytelling science’ conversational interviews involves enacting from 1 to 4 tests: (Boje & Rosile, p. 10):


“1.     Refutation test of self-reflexivity conversations,

  1. Critical cross-disciplinary conversations with others,
  2. Understanding scalability processes of nature, and
  3. Doing experiments and practice interventions to get closer to solutions to super wicked water and climate changes ushering in more and more crises are larger and larger scales.”


For Popper what Peirce calls self-correcting is termed trial and error of the scientific method we arrive closer to the truth (Popper, 1963: 318).


“We propose, a self-correcting abduction-induction-deduction semiotics, to get closer to approximations of ‘true’, knowing we are never arriving at ‘absolute truth’ because of our own fallibilism” (Boje & Rosile,2019 in prep to publish,  p. 8).


Quoting Boje & Rosile, pp. 8-9, boldness ours): “Self-Correcting ‘storytelling science’ with several metaphysical variations of dialectic, anti-dialectic, dialogic, antidialogic, antenarrative, anti-narrative from these sources:

  • Paulo Friere’s (1970/2000) oppositions of dialectical and anti-dialectical with dialogical and anti-dialogical
  • David Boje’ (2011) ‘antenarrative’ and ‘anti-narrative’ and colleagues’ (Boje ed. 2011; Boje & Sanchez, Eds., 2019a, 2019b; Boje, Mølbjerg Jørgensen, 2018) antenarrative and anti-narrative notions and implications for ‘quantum storytelling’ (Boje, 2014; Boje & Henderson, 2014; Henderson & Boje, 2016; Boje, 2016a; Boje, Svane & Gergerich, 2016)
  • Mikhail Bakhtin’s (1981, 1990, 1993) anti-dialectical approach to several dialogisms (Boje, 2008):
  1. Polyphonic
  2.      Stylistic

iii.     Chronotopic

  1. Architectonic
  • Charles Sanders Peirce’s (1933-1937) ‘self-correcting’ semiotics of triadic of Abduction-Induction-Deduction (Boje, 2014)
  • Gilles Deleuze’s (1990, 1991, 1994, 1997; with Guattari 1987, 1994) anti-dialectics and retheorizing Bergson’s (1960, 1988) multiplicities as assemblages of intensive, extensive and virtual multiplicities (Boje, 2019b)
  • Karl Popper’s (2008) ‘zigzag’ of scientific method in the dialectical (thesis-antithesis-synthesis) problem solving to get closer to correct solution without falling into inductive fallacy in a moral ontology of middle ground between pessimism (Marxism) and optimism (positivism), and ‘Metaphysical Realism’
  • Henri Savall and colleagues’ ‘socio-economic’ approach of dialectics (triadic of Peircean ‘abduction-induction-deduction’ and qualimetrics (triadic of qualitative-quantitative-financial) in moral ontology of socially responsible capitalism (Savall, Peron, Zardet, & Bonnet, 2018; Boje, 2018a)
  • Hannah Arendt’s (1978) series of dialectic cycles of thesis-antithesis-synthesis that become spiral of self-correcting
  • Jean-Paul Sartre (1960/2004) dialectics of ‘negation of the negation’ in a practical ensemble of multiplicities as applied by Rosile, Boje, and Claw (2018) to ensemble leadership
  • Judith Butler’s dialectics of ‘negation of the negation’ as a way of undoing gender, and as applied by Riach, Rumens, and Tyler (2016) to Boje’s (2001, 2008) ‘antenarrative’ and use of ‘anti-narrative interviewing method’ applied to Butler’s (2005) giving account of oneself and (2004) undoing gender

Slavoj Žižek’s (2012) dialectics of ‘negation of the negation’ as a way to resurrect Hegelianism in relation to the Lacanian psychoanalytic.”

Next Table p. 31, from Boje & Rosile (2019, in prep):

Table 1: Conscientização and relation of anti-dialectical and anti-dialogical to their opposite with conversational storytelling

Anti-Dialectical Dialectical
Anti-Dialogical Semi-structured interviews reduce concrete to the abstract confirmation of themes & subthemes.


It is the crisis Western Ways of Knowing (WWOK)

Not listening to the Other



WWOKers not entering space of co-sharing and co-inquiry


IWOKers remaining voiceless

Dialogical Domesticated dialectic


Listening without co-inquiry

Not braiding conversations between WWOK and IWOK


Disappearance of social structure and social conditions co-inquiry

Conversational storytelling Conscientização



Double movement of dialectical and dialogical

Māori kōrero

Indigenous way of knowing (IWOK) ‘Native Science’

Freeing the Pedegogy of both oppressor and oppressed


What does all this mean to do storytelling conversational interviewing?


  1. It has to be a back and forth, or its an interrogation
  2. It has to be dialogical or it’s reducing of dialogism to monological narrative fallacy
  3. It has to be dialectical, not just TAS narrative-counternarrative explorations in the interviews, if that is even possible, but the N of N dialectic of multiplicity ensembles
  4. It has to be not just Induction, but include Abduction and Deduction.

In each self-correcting phase of storytelling science, there is a cycle of Abduction-Induction-Deduction. Each storytelling conversational interview begins with Abductions that are explored in the interview with Induction inference inquiry. Either form the getgo are after the first cycle, there is Deduction from theories and from theorizing, and adjustments and new Abduction, then second cycle, more Induction, and in each cycle of self-correcting.

Actually it’s that there are both dialectic and dialogical relational storytelling discourses (interdiscursivities) in the phenomenon. Being dialogical is being conversational storytelling, by sharing your own accounts, not just interrogation. Both dialectic (Sartre) and dialogical (Bakhtin) have what Peirce has called self-correction, and can be done with triadic of abduction-induction-deduction in series of refutation tests.

We cannot arrive at absolute truth, but can get closer than the usual relative social constructivism of semi0structured interviewing by engaging in relational process ontology and the method of self-correcting storytelling science in doing conversational interviewing, in multiple rounds, recording our abduction-induction-deduction cycle understanding, as we go, instead of after-the-fact.


Adorno, T. W. (1973). Negative dialectics, trans. EB Ashton (New York: Continuum.

Boje, D. M. (2019b). Organizational Research: Storytelling In Action. London/NY: Routledge. has 10 Relational process ontology approaches All 10 are 4th wave alternatives

Boje, D.M and Rosile, G.A. (2019 in process). Doing storytelling science of self-correction as an alternative to semi-structured interviewing See draft at

Lundholt, M. W., & Boje, D. (2018). Understanding Organizational Narrative-Counter-narratives Dynamics: An overview of Communication Constitutes Organization (CCO) and Storytelling Organization Theory (SOT) approaches. Communication and Language at Work, 5(1), 18-29.

Peirce, C. S. (1931-1935, 1958). Collected papers of Charles Sanders Peirce. [Volumes I–VI, ed. by Charles Hartshorne and Paul Weiss, 1931–1935, Volumes VII–VIII, ed. by Arthur W. Burks, 1958, quotations according to volume and paragraph.]. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Popper, Karl R. (1963). Conjectures and Refutations: The Growth of Scientific Knowledge. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul.

Roethlisberger, F. J., Dickson, W. J., Wright, H. A., & Pforzheimer, C. H. (1939). Western Electric Company. Management and the worker: an account of a research program conducted by the Western Electric Company, Hawthorne Works. for more books and articles for the ANNUAL STORYTELLING CONFERENCE IN LAS CRUCES NEW MEXICO


Dark Side of Business Storytelling Discourses: Implications for United Nations Actually Meeting Sustainable Development Goals

This is part II of my post on Dark Side of Business Storytelling Discourses.

I want to combine storytelling with discourse because they are inseparable, thoroughly entangled, and cannot be dissevered. My solution is to look at how storytelling (narratives & stories) are constituted by what I call antenarratives (what comes before narratives & stories, and the various ‘bets on the future’). Right now the business storytelling ‘bet on the future’ is that the status quo scenario of business-as-usual will resolve the situation of Sixth Extinction (Boje, 2019a) and there is some kind of magical Planet B from which to get more fresh water as the global warming on Planet A, leaves it too dry to support most humans, especially poor and minority humans, and most other species as well. So what if the 1% survives the rise in temperature beyond 2 degrees Centigrade, or even finds a shelter from 4 or 6 degrees. Most coastal areas will have sea rise, and their fresh water aquifers will urn brackish, with the rising temperatures, more evaporation, but are retention of it in the vapor atmosphere, which means less rainfall, and when it does its storms and flash flooding. I life in the desert and I hear we had 15 inches of rain a year when we moved here in 1996, but now there is 10 inches, and next year less than that as the global warming continues.

I am focusing on the water catastrophes that are entangled with global warming. Water is life, and we humans can only live threes days before our organs shut down, and then we die.  You might think that is the dark side of storytelling, buy you’d be wrong. The dark side is how business storytelling does not tell it like it is, and instead tells unrealistic stories of how economy growth can keep happening with various sustainability development scenarios. The problem is continued economy growth is incompatible with sucking the planet dry of its water and other natural environment capacities to support life on Earth.

There are three peak water crises (renewable, non-renewable, & ecological peaks)  that Circular Economy and Triple Bottom Line (3BL) are blind too. My storytelling discourse research finds this is because we in the business school have reduced deep ecology to a watered-down, shallow approach known as ‘corporatized environmentalism’ that promises continued economy growth is compatible with continued sustainable development. The fallacy of the circular economy is it does not account for the fact that the small gains in recycling and reducing in the circular economy are grossly insufficient to deal with the outcomes of growing and expanding the circular economy each year, thereby increasing the CO2 emissions making it impossible to meet the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

peak water apocalypse.png

Figure 1: The Three Peak Water Events that Circular Economy is Not Accounting for Adapted from Boje and Mølbjerg Jørgensen 2018


The fallacy of Triple Bottom Line (3BL) is it assumes that there is or can be equality between Profit, Planet, and People metrics (Boje, 2016).

The United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) have a narrative expectation of transformation, how the future of life on Earth will unfold, if and only if, CO2 emissions are contained so that global warming does not change the hydrological cycle. This overarching narrative of the UN SDGs is presented in gray.

orverarching UN SDGs narrative.png

Figure 2: The Overarching Narrative of the United Nations attempts to avert Apocalypse Doomsday Scenarios source

To avoid the catastrophes of the Sixth Extinction, various turgets and indicators have to be met by 2030, or the capacity of nature’s systems to support life on Earth will deteriorate.

All United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are Not Created Equal.

We need to deconstruct the ways economy SDGs Trump (yes its a pun) the society and the biosphere SDGs. How to relate the 17 UN SDGs to Business storytelling discourses. First sort the 17 UN SDGs into Biosphere, Society, Economy, and Partnering relationships. You will notice without the Biosphere there is no society and no economy.

BIOSPHERE is telling a story of Earth’s capacity to support life

biosphere sdgs.png

SOCIETY has problems and issues that are entangled with the life capacity of the biosphere. These are all important, but it takes Biosphere to support life.

society sdgs.png

ECONOMY growth is impacting not only society (the socio-economic nexus) but depleting the biosphere capacity to support life of all species. It’s not all about the economy. It takes a functioning Biosphere to support an economy.

economy sdgs.png

PARTNERING between the biosphere, society, and economy is necessary to keep the transformation from exceeding tipping points

17 SGG partnering.png

Yes, partnering between organizations is important to bring about changes in society SDGs and in Economy SDGs. However, without partnering with the Biosphere, living and doing economy within planetary capacity limits, it’s game over. There is No Planet B where we can draw more water, get clean air, and soil to grow food. Humans are not the only species. We are one among millions of species, all with rights to water.


Boje, D. M. (2016). Critique of the Triple Bottom Line. Pp. 181-198 in Grace Ann Rosile (ed.) Tribal Wisdom for Business Ethics. Bingley, UK: Emerald Group Publishing Limited.

Boje, D. M. (2019a). Global Storytelling: There is No Planet B. Singapore/London/NY: World Scientific.

Boje, D. M. (2019b). Organizational Research: Storytelling In Action. London/NY: Routledge.

Boje, D. M. (2019c, in process). Storytelling Interventions in Global Water Crisis.Singapore/London/NY: World Scientific.


What is the dark side of business ‘storytelling discourse’? Circular Economy, Triple Bottom Line…

Blog post by David M. Boje July 26 2019, revised July 30 2019, in preparation for keynote to the Dark Side of Communication conference, August in Denmark.

What is the dark side of business ‘storytelling discourse’? In this presentation I want to bring business storytelling and critical discourse analysis (Fairclough, 1992, 1995, 2005) together in order to understand why there are inadequate preparations in advance to avoid the 97% consensus among climate scientists about what will happen by 2100 if major reforms to capitalism are not enacted in the next decade. Storytelling (narrative and story) have been treated as a mode or element of discourse (Keenoy, Oswick & Grant, 1997; Oswick, Keenoy, Grant, & Marshak, 2000). I would like to suggest that storytelling is inseparable from discourse (Boje, 2014), so I will use the term ‘storytelling discourse’. My purpose is to get at what Grove-White (1993) calls ‘moral discourse’ of environmentalism in technological society, in particular the corporatized environmentalism discourse of the business college, I propose has colonized universities, and the entire ‘sustainability development’ movement with they mythic notion, making the economy circular, will avert global warming and as planet heats up, water heats up, and the ecological peak water event happens (which I will explain as I go).

We are in an existential crisis, but being colonized and co-opted to be bystander storytelling discourse instead of taking the necessary climate action. In 1962 Rachel Carson’s book Silent Spring, is a good example of the power of the dark side of storytelling discourse. She tells a story of the harmful effect of chemical, pesticides, including DDT polluting the land and water, resulting in contamination of the food chain, so there is a die-off.  The storytelling discourse brought about action, the Clean Water Act in 1972, the Clean Water Act in 1970, and the Resource Recovery and Conservation Act in 1976. But that was before the advent of corporatized environmentalism.

But something is wrong. We are not getting the climate action requisite to the climate science 97% agreement that global warming will be causing some major catastrophes if we stay on the business-as-usual course of inaction. We are colonized into inaction, distracted in 2019 by all the corporatized environmentalism, its storytelling discourse colonizes the ecological discourses, by quite shallow approaches to sustainability development, by conveying a growing number of climate myths that derail and deny the research results of climate science. Leading the way is the colonizing force of business storytelling discourses of the business schools I have work in 33 plus years, makes it seem as if continued economic growth is compatible with ‘sustainable development’ as if there is a planet B. I write about all this as Storytelling in the Global Age: There is No Planet B (Boje, 2019a, just published July 2019).

There is no planet B to bring freshwater to a dry planet. Business storytelling in the Global Age is how corporatized ‘fake storytelling’ of shallow sustainable development keeps the status quo fossil fuel industries, the plastic water bottle industry, and the water commodification and privatization industries from making the needed changes to avoid Sixth Extinction. Business schools’ ‘storytelling discourses’ have thoroughly colonized the university, resulting in rampant ‘academic capitalism’, displaced ‘real news coverage’ with ‘fake news’, turned public attention away from deep ecology, and co-opted the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), defanging them, so it is unlikely that CO2 emissions will be reduced in time to avoid Sixth Extinction, a prediction that most of humankind and most other species will die off from the global warming, its climate change, and of thirst in peak water crises (Boje, 2019c, in process).

With the predictable global warming, we are ill-equipped in business schools to prepare for when water is more valuable to business than oil. In other words, the neoliberal free market capitalism discourse and ideology of ‘business storytelling’ discourses (see https://davidboje.comfor Business Storytelling Encyclopediaproject), colonizes a Fake Storytelling (see that has co-opted the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals  (SDGs) with Corporatized Narrative Promises of Triple Bottom Line, Tale tales of Circular Economy, Schemes of Cap-And-Trade in Carbon Emissions, Financed Myths of ‘Climate Denial’ to slow down ‘Climate Science’, all in-order-to keep ‘Fracking Oil’, and prepare for when Water is more valuable than Oil, by ‘commodifying and privatizing water as if there is a Planet B, and the Sixth Extinction is not already unfolding here and now. It’s not just peak oil, and fracking and climate denial to keep the fossil fuel industry from accepting its complicity and accountability.

There is another set of peaks happening besides being on the downslope of peak oil. We are not just in global warming, our business practices have created three peak water crises. Our renewal water is on the decline, so is our non-renewable water, and the ecological water in the water cycle itself, more evaporation occurs, but too much of it stays in the atmosphere in vapor, and less falls to earth to replenish our thirst and the thirst of all living species for water.

peak water apocalypse.png

Figure 1: 3 Peak Water Catastrophes that Circular Economy is Blind to – Adapted from Boje and Mølbjerg Jørgensen 2018

My Storytelling Awakening in the Belly of the Beast Long long ago in a 1970s university far far away, I was an ‘organization and environment‘ major. In all the Ph.D. course I took, the ‘environment’ meant ‘other organizations‘ and had nothing at all to do with climate change and peak water shortages in the biosphere, or Gaia the living planet. I was unaware of how the discourses of natural environment, ecology, and biosphere had been purged from the business schools. My ‘organization and environment’ became combined with an interest in ‘storytelling’, as I moved to my first job at UCLA in 1978. There too, environment meant other organizations and had nothing to do with the biosphere in the Anderson School of Management. Then, at Loyola Marymount where I earned tenure and environment became a bit more, still pretty shallow, something to do with recycling, reducing, and reusing, but nothing about the living planet or planetary carrying capacity for living species. Students were amazing. They actually volunteered to in the university recycling program, turning plastic bottles starting to proliferate in the 1980s into T-shirts. The Academy of Management was a great bystander instead of heeding the call to do something about the current and coming eco-crises. The bright exception was becoming a cosigner for the formation of the Organizations And Natural Environment (ONE) division of the Academy of Management (AOM). It was an anchor for me, and place of awakening from the stupefied Business School reductionism of ecology to just ‘other organizations.’ I was also a co-signer to initiate Critical Management Studies (CMS) division formation. It gave space to faculty and students studying ecological crises such as Bhopal (2–3 December 1984) a disaster at Union Carbide India Limited. Here is where critical discourse and critical storytelling came together for me, in a critical storytelling discourse paradigm. The Bhopal gas tragedy of December 2nd 1984, brought out the need to change the bystander AOM paradigms. Bhopal killed 3,787 people. Sessions I attended in ONE and CMS in the 1980s gave me hope.  Here is an excerpt from the ONE constitution.To much of the AOM, ‘environment’ still meant just other stakeholder organizations.  It’s exciting to see ONE turn from ‘environment’ as just other organizations, to the ‘natural environment’:

“The Organizations and the Natural Environment Division is dedicated to the advancement of research, teaching, and service in the area of relationships between organizations and the natural environment … The pollution of air, water, and land, and the depletion of both renewable and non-renewable resources as a result of actions of formal organizations are the most obvious manifestations of these interactions and relationships” (ONE Division’s Constitution, AOM).


1979-1996, some 15 years in Los Angeles and with all its earthquakes, mud slides, fires, and smog, It dated on me that something weird was happening, but did not tie it to the courses I taught. 1996 I moved to the Chihuahuan Desert in New Mexico, which, where I live only gets 10 inches of water a year, Rio Grande river that since the 1990s does not have water in our lower reach during the hottest months, yet climate denial is in the storytelling discourses of the business school and the university. I have learned to appreciate the survival skills of the rattlesnakes, tarantulas, horny toads, scorpions, and centipedes of the Chihuahuan Desert.  I became part of the sustainability movement on the New Mexico campus, putting forward the senatorial motion for an Office of Sustainability and a Sustainability Council, I chaired twice. Our vision included developing a School of Sustainability. We got a Bronze, then earned a Gold Star from STARS twice.  Yet, I kept noticing that beyond a deteriorating, out-of-date, and stalled recycling of plastic bottles, aluminum cans, and some cardboard and paper, the bystander storytelling discourse of business school had infected, colonized, and dominated the academic capitalism of the university. Yes, pockets of climate science, but not enough climate action to slow the global warming or prevent the death by thirst from the peak water crises.

The Dark Side of Academy of Management Storytelling Discourses

I took a look at recent and current Management (Mgt), Organizational Behavior (OB), Organizational Development (OD), and Critical Management (CM) texts. I did a pilot sample of texts I had in my personal library. Clearly a random sample is needed. Here are my preliminary findings. I found in the Index of each book, there is still not that much about climate change or global warming, and nothing about the impact of increasing global temperature on the water cycle (see Table 1). Most mainstream texts in these disciplines do not address ‘natural environment’ at all, and some have a single or a few references to sustainability, ecology is here and there, but no full coverage of climate change or global warming in any of the texts I sampled.

Table 1: Comparison of ‘Natural Environment’ Coverage in OB, OD, OT, and Mgt textbooks

TEXTS ‘Natural Environ-ment’ ‘Ecology’ ‘Environ-mental


‘Sustain-ability’ ‘Climate Change’ ‘Global Warming’ All terms/

total pages


Mgt: Exploring Mgt Schermerhorn & Backrach 5th ed. 2007 0 0 2 0 0 2/354


OB: OB Robbins & Judge, 17th ed. 2017) 0 0 2 0 0 2/673


OD1: Managing Change, Creativity & Innovation (Dawson & Andriopoulos 2011, 2nded.) 0 0 0 0 0 0/412


OD2: Action Research Handbook (Reason & Bradbury 2008, 2nd ed.) 0 10 11 0 0 21/707


OD3: Handbook of Organization Development, Cummings 2008) 0 3 2 0 0 5/676



Mgt & Org: A Critical Text Linstead, Fulop & Lilley, 2009, 2nded.)

0 11 65 0 0 76/830



Mging & Orgs, Clegg, Kornberger & Pitsis 2005)

0 0 3 0 0 3/540


Key: Mgt= Management, OB= Organizational Behavior, OD = Organizational Development, CM = Critical Management

Looking at a count of the number of pages for all terms. One CM text (Linstead et al, 2009) had the most coverage in my non-random sample: 9.16% (76 out of 830 pages).

graph of books

Figure 2: Comparison of Coverage of ‘Natural Environment’ and related terms in OB, OD, and CM textbooks

My interpretation (an abductive hypothesis for others to check out in a complete random sample), there is in  the mainstream texts in mgt OB and OD have less coverage than the Critical Management (CM2) text by Linstead et al. This is a skewed distribution, since with the exception of the CM2 and OD2 texts, there is hardly any coverage (a page or two, or none at all for OD1). Mgt celebrates Patagonia and Unilever for its sustainability goals.” Not in the index, I searched and found single sentence about water, global warming and climate change. Using online searches of the sampled texts needs to be done.  For example in the 2 pages on ‘sustainability’ in the Schermerhorn and Bachrach Mgt text: (p. 76) The BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is mentioned as a front-page issue, but Scherhorn and Bachrack explain” business practices pose risks, present and footer, to humankind and the natural environment. And it should prompt you to be concerned about the event to which we are abusing versus protecting, and consuming versus conserving, the world’s resources.”  On p 77 of the Mgt text, sustainability is presented “as a priority of the times, affecting all of us and all institutions of our society… the rights of both present and future generations as stakeholders of the world’s natural resources…”

“Water is becoming scarce and global warming and climate change are accelerating” (p. 77). While this is accurate, one sentence is not adequate to the challenges. The business Mgt and OB storytelling presents CEOs as the heroes, implementing sustainability goals.

It is presented is if it is possible to meet the “needs of customers and protect or advance the well-being of our natural environment” without any sense of contraction of how “harmony with nature” and “exploiting nature” can happen at the same time.


The OB text (Robbins & Judge) uses 3M corporation as a positive example of sustainability (1 of its 2 pages), but does not explain further. Nor is there any critique of 3M for its role in C8 (aka GenX) teflon pollution of the ground water near its plant, and the resultant medical health consequences of teflon chemical ingestion.

I will argue that Mgt and OB has much less coverage of global warming and the peak water crises unfolding, thereby preventing concerted climate action, and this is perpetrated by texts deploying the storytelling discourse of ‘corporatized environmentalism’ which puts students into a bystander role, rather than what Bakhtin (1993: 3) calls ‘moral answerability’ for being there in the once-occurrent eventness of Being with an ethical responsibility to intervene, to prevent tragedy (See Boje, 2008 for Bakhtin’s dialogism, and Boje 2008b for distinction between bystander [special] answerability and ‘moral answerability).

Has mainstream Mgt, OB, OD, and much of CM avoided its own moral answerability and complicity for climate change, global warming, and the hydrological cycle of planet Earth?  After all, none of the texts is tackling the topics of natural environment, climate change, or global warming, though there is critique of sustainability greenwashing in CM1.  Most (with the exception of CM1) are laudatory about corporate sustainability programs, or in Mgt text mention climate change and global warming as a sustainability goal of Unilever’s CEO.

CM1: Mgt & Org: A Critical Text Linstead, Fulop & Lilley, 2009, 2nded.) Linstead, Fulop and Lilley (2009) in chapter 5 by Linstead and Banerjee  ask, “How does the natural environment impact a company’s business?” (p. 239). Linstead and Banerjee do some storytelling discourse, in a case of a transnational mining corporation. Rana Base returns from a European Union conference about some new environmental legislation that his mining company had worked hard to delay as long as possible. He returns to headquarters to find to his horror, the largest customer has returned $1.4 million product order because of ‘excessive packaging’ too much styrofoam and plastic. The customer wants to know about how much carbon is in the plastic and paper, and what is the company policy and strategy for natural resources, including an account of just where the wood for the packing crates is sourced. The case tells of Australian Aboriginal communities intensifying their protests of the mining operations, the discharges of effluents aristo the Pibara River are causing destruction of the water and will cost millions to create the waste water management, the emissions controls, to get the effluents under control. More and more environmental groups around the world are targeting the mining company, claiming water pollution, and asking tough questions about environmental strategies and practices. The case brings to the foreground the natural environment in which the transnational mining company is operating. It can no long play the bystander role, and its strategy of denial rhetoric is failing to persuade anyone.

In the next post I will address what can be done about business storytelling discourses colonizing the sustainable development goals of the United Nation’s attempts to keep humanity form dying of thirst in the Sixth Extinction.


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