Relaxing the Taboo on Telling Our Own Stories: Upholding Professional Distance and Personal Involvement

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Relaxing the Taboo on Telling Our Own Stories: Upholding Professional Distance and Personal Involvement

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Title: Relaxing the Taboo on Telling Our Own Stories: Upholding Professional Distance and Personal Involvement
Author: Anteby, Michel J.
Citation: Anteby, Michel. "Relaxing the Taboo on Telling Our Own Stories: Upholding Professional Distance and Personal Involvement." Organization Science (in press).
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Abstract: Scholars studying organizations are typically discouraged from telling, in print, their own stories. The expression “telling our own stories” is used as a proxy for field research projects that, in their written form, explicitly rely on a scholar's personal involvement in a field. (By personal involvement in a field, I mean a scholar's engagement in a set of mental activities that connect her to a field.) The assumption is that personal involvement is antithetical to maintaining professional distance. In this paper, I argue that the taboo against telling our own stories stems in part from an epistemological misunderstanding. Learning from the field entails upholding both distance and involvement; the two dimensions should not be conceptualized as opposite ends of a continuum. Moreover, I suggest that the taboo has become too extreme and stifles our collective capacity to generate new insights. To make this argument, I start by discussing the general taboo against telling one's own stories. Second, I focus on the rationale set forth to justify not only the taboo but also its limitations. Third, I examine what distance entails and how involvement, far from lessening distance, creates opportunities for generating potentially strong theoretical insight. Fourth, I showcase several areas of theoretical development that might benefit from revisiting the taboo. I conclude by reviewing key practical implications of such a shift for our profession and by arguing that organizational scholarship could gain a great deal from relaxing the taboo.
Published Version: http://orgsci.journal.informs.org/content/early/2012/09/10/orsc.1120.0777.abstract?sid=5f76f73c-9de8-4c58-b01e-c7e6f6d61401
Terms of Use: This article is made available under the terms and conditions applicable to Open Access Policy Articles, as set forth at http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:dash.current.terms-of-use#OAP
Citable link to this page: http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:9549822

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