The Birth of Big Story Conference and the Death of Sc’MOI after 25 years of its life – blog post by David M. Boje, 31 Aug 2015

The Birth of Big Story Conference and the Death of Sc’MOI after 25 years of its life

Celebrating 25 Years of Storytelling25th Annual Meetingsc’MOI 2016April 14th – 16thWyndham Independence MallPhiladelphia, PASc’moi stands for ‘Standing Conference for Management and Organizational Inquiry.’ It is about to die after 25 years of being a lively community of scholars. No more meetings after April 2016, not even its website will remain. See history of sc’MOIIn 1991, I was rejected by the Academy of Management, even though I had just published my third Administrative Science Quarterly journal article, and the power even more visible was that I scored 5 out of 5 on my paper submission, so I headed to Detroit to International Academy of Business Disciplines conference, to the ‘Organization Theory’ track. I went to the assigned room at the assigned time, and I was alone there too.  I asked the conference organizer, Abbas Alkhafaji, what do I do now?  Abbas, said, ‘you can be the track chair. They other guy never shows up.’ I said, “OK” and invited my friends, and for a long time it was a good arrangement. The international born people rejected by the Academy of Management because their names did not fit Western diction, aligned with the critical postmodernists of organization theory, and then in 2003 I was elected in-coming conference president. But, I was too radical, to much the resistor to war, and so I was deposed before I arrived in 2004, and did not know it. Our theatrical performance, somehow got moved from a track performance to the Conference dinner, and their I was dressed as Ronald McDonald, an actor in-character for the play “McDonald’s goes to Iraq.”Read about the Decapitation of David Boje in 2004, and how sc’MOI went out on hits own.Boje_the_Clown_of_IABDExhibit 1: Boje (Ronald) and IABD conference founder, executive director, and good friend to us all, Abbas Alkhafaji Inquisitor 1: Bøje did dress as a clown and perform an anti-corporate play (McDonald’s goes to Iraq), and at the formal dinner no less. We were trapped there, It is so very inappropriate for an in-coming President to do this, to dress as a clown.Bøje: Are we not all clowns? Board Member 1: (rising to his feet) “I am not a clown, what an insult to the conference leaders!”Board Member 2: (also rising to his feet): I am not a clown.”

IABD, then sc’MOI were all about creating a ‘caring capitalism’ one that is actually a sustainability of caring in the radical manner of Quantum Storytelling.  Quantum Storytelling qua care, and the lack of authentic care in capitalism, means we must noted “every Interpretation has its fore-having, its fore-sight, and its fore-conception” and I will add the fore-structure and the fore-care to this list (Heidegger, # 232)

“The totality of Being-in-the-world as a structural whole has revealed itself as care” (Heidegger, # 231), in what I call ‘fore-care.’  This coming-to-the-fore of spacetimemattering ahead-of-itself is what I mean by antenarrative.

This is a depiction of the 5 B's of Antenarrative assignment process, with Heidegger (1962) fore- concepts.

This is a depiction of the 5 B’s of Antenarrative assignment process, with Heidegger (1962) fore- concepts.

The problem of living story webs is our own living story can become a barrier to storytelling-listening, to the living stories of Others.  The Dominant Narrative problematic is that the urge to generalize, the will to coherence, the wish of linear plot results in a simplistic Beginning-Middle-End (BME).

Capitalism is free to be either authentic or inauthentic care, but the Academy of Management is almost totally addicted to logical positivism (to the bridging of the epistemic naive ‘idealism’ with the ontic-positivism of naive ‘realism’).

The tool of choice is ‘Structural Equation Modeling’ the capstone methods course of all the tier-one Ph.D. programs in Management, and the end all and be all of Academy science. Independent latent variables, dependent latent variables, and the estimation of errors in measurement.

“Over time this model has evolved in several directions. Perhaps the most popular general SEM that takes account of measurement error in observed variables is the LISREL model proposed by Jöreskog and Sörbom (1978). This model simplifies if measurement error is negligible as we will illustrate below” (Source, p. 2).

“A researcher who possesses causal knowledge of the domain may express this knowledge by bringing stronger causal assumptions to the model and by drawing their logical consequences. Or a researcher who wants to examine the implications of or plausibility of a set of causal assumptions can impose them on the model and test their compatibility with the data” (IBID., p. 6).

8 Myths of SEM are presented, and this is my personal favorite

‘Myth # 7 — SEM is not appropriate for mediation analysis Mediation analysis aims to uncover causal pathways along which changes are transmitted from causes to effects. For example, an investigator may be interested in assessing the extent to which gender disparity in hiring can be reduced by making hiring decisions gender-blind, compared with say eliminating gender disparity in education or job qualifications. The former concerns the “direct effect” (of gender on hiring) and the latter the “indirect effect” or the “effect mediated via qualification”. The myth that SEM is not appropriate for mediation analysis is somewhat ironic in that much of the development of mediation analysis occurred in the SEM literature” (IBID., p. 24).

“Structural equation modeling (SEM), which entails factor models and structural models, definitely specifies cause and effect relationships (Hoyle, 1995)” (source, p. 15).

“If logical positivism is not the underlying philosophy of quantitative methodology, then what philosophy can it fit into? As mentioned in the beginning, several philosophical foundations such as critical realism, critical multiplism, and post-positivism have currently been proposed …In other words, in critical realism the first part (critical) is about epistemology and methodology while the second part (realism) is concerned with ontology. Obviously, tensions exist between post-positivism and critical realism. Post-positivism tends to pull researchers away from asserting an objective reality while critical realism tends to push researchers towards the assertion of a real world. Nevertheless, critical multiplism does not necessarily view the world as a linguistic description or a reality that is independent of our language” (IBID., p. 25-26).

(Heidegger, 1963 #234 ) ontology is moving along a different critique of logical positivism (and its newest stepchild, SEM). Beneath SEM is a revealing, a disclosability of care, in the existential condition of spacetimemattering. Here  and now, our focus is how Quantum Storytelling is grounded in temporality.  When John Dewey read Werner Heisenberg’s (1927) Observer Effect article, which I have only seen in German, Dewey (1929) produced his own ontological turn, just two year’s later. “Dewey switched paths, and started looking at how the Observer Effect, and the Uncertainty Principle meant new pragmatic ways of intelligent action not just for education, but all forms of organization” (Boje, 2014).

“Quantum Storytelling ‘Space’ is all possible places of co-location of a Waveform-matrix that when collapsed by ‘Observer Effect,’ the possibilities become probabilities of just a few manifesting actualities of our organizing. A Waveform-matrix is defined as all possible outcomes. The Observer Effect, collapse the waves of potentiality into few actualities. Those waves are infinitesimally small, energy vortices, what I call energy vibrations ‘or vibes, for short’ that are assumed to be influenced in subtle ways by the storytelling” (Boje, 2014). By contrast, Bohr’s Principe of Complementarity. The Principle of Complementarity says the quantum observer effects of our sense experiences are complementary to classic physics. At some point the many possible futures collapse into one enacted course of action” (Boje, 2014).

What is important, for me, is that John Dewey’s ontology does not divorce theory form practice. “For Dewey, the observer effect, meant theory and action are not separated. For James, plurality was a way to move beyond closed systems thinking (see chapter on 12 pragmatic paths)” (Boje, 2014).

I issue with SEM is that it divorces theory from action, and does not account for the Observer Effect, and in its search for causal explanations, it forgets those are correlation matrices, not time series data. From an ethnostatistics (Gephart, 1988, 2006) method, it is time to study the SEM statisticians, and discern, what it is they think they are doing. For an example of ethnostatistics, see the Enron Storytelling (Boje, Gardner, and Smith, 2006).

OK, so here is the summary. I used to go to Academy of Management, but it turned logical positivist, and eventually banned art and theater, so I moved along to form sc’MOI, but with the collapse of the world economy, the East coast conference market also collapsed, so after 25 years, we are declaring the death of sc’MOI. Meanwhile The Quantum Storytelling Conference, after 4 years, decided to change its name to Big Story Conference, and move from Las Cruces to California, each December.

Now I work in a department of management, that spends most of its pedagogic hours on SEM, yet also has the distinction of still teaching qualitative methods, in two courses Mgt 661 (qualitative) and Mgt 655 (systems) and an elective every other year Mgt 685 (storytelling consulting, where we do focus on quantum storytelling).

So why not come to Big Story Conference, Dec 17-19 in LA in 2015, then go to the funeral, the death of the sc’MOI conference in April 2016 in Philadelphia. Death is a “mode of temporality” a “reckoning” with death that arises in the “everyday understanding of time” and in the “ontological meaning of care” (Heidegger, 1963 # 235-236). Maybe a caring capitalism could emerge out of the corpse of sc’MOI and the birth of Big Story Conference.


Boje, D. M., Gardner, C. L., & Smith, W. L. (2006). (Mis) using numbers in the Enron story. Organizational Research Methods, 9(4), 456-474.Dewey, J. (1929). The quest for certainty. Chicago.

Gephart, R. P. (1988). Ethnostatistics: Qualitative foundations for quantitative research (Vol. 12). Sage Publications, Inc.

Gephart, Robert P. “Ethnostatistics and Organizational Research Methodologies An Introduction.” Organizational Research Methods 9.4 (2006): 417-431.

Heisenberg, W. (1927). Über den anschaulichen Inhalt der quantentheoretischen Kinematik und Mechanik. Zeitschrift für Physik A Hadrons and Nuclei, Vol. 43(3), 172-198. Online at

Heisenberg, Werner. (1958). Physics and Philosophy: The Revolution in Modern Science. NY: Harper & Brothers Publications.