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Managerial identity work in action: performative narratives and anecdotal stories of innovation

Sergeeva, N. and Green, S. D. ORCID: (2019) Managerial identity work in action: performative narratives and anecdotal stories of innovation. Construction Management and Economics, 37 (10). pp. 604-623. ISSN 0144-6193

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1080/01446193.2019.1566625


Innovation is invariably accepted as a central component of construction sector competitiveness. Yet there remains a paucity of empirical research which explores the gap between the way innovation is promoted in the policy discourse and how it is interpreted in practice. We follow the ‘narrative turn’ in organisation studies to explore the ways in which senior executives in the UK construction sector ascribe themselves with informal roles while advocating the cause of innovation. Empirical data is derived from narrative interviews with 32 senior executives who self-identify as ‘innovation champions’. When talking about innovation the respondents were found to oscillate between performative narratives of innovation and more personalised stories derived from their own experience. The narratives were invariably pre-rehearsed often to the point of being monotonous. In contrast, the personalised stories tended to be engaging and emotionally laden. The tendency for senior executives to oscillate between narratives and stories is seen as an important means through which they search for meaning while at the same time legitimising their self-identities as ‘innovation champions’. Of particular note is the way in which senior managers self-ascribe themselves with informal roles which are notably at odds with those described in more formalised narratives.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Science > School of the Built Environment > Organisation, People and Technology group
ID Code:81457
Publisher:Taylor & Francis


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