Fiction and Organization Studies

Paul Savage, Joep P. Cornelissen, Henrika Franck

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Citations (Scopus)


The topic of fiction is in itself not new to the domain of organization studies. However, prior research has often separated fiction from the reality of organizations and used fiction metaphorically or as a figurative source to describe and interpret organizations. In this article, we go beyond the classic use of fiction, and suggest that fiction should be a central concern in organization studies. We draw on the philosophy of fiction to offer an alternative account of the nature of fiction and its basic operation. We specifically import Searle’s work on speech acts, Walton’s pretense theory, Iser’s fictionalizing acts, and Ricoeur’s work on narrative fiction to theorize about organizations as fictions. In doing so, we hope that we not only offer an account of the “ontological status” of organizations but also provide a set of theoretical coordinates and lenses through which, separately or together, the notion of organizations as fictions can be approached and understood.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)975-994
Number of pages20
JournalOrganization Studies
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Jul 1 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • communicative constitution of organizations (CCO)
  • discourse theory (metaphor narratives rhetoric etc.)
  • sensemaking theory
  • theoretical perspectives
  • theoretical perspectives
  • theoretical perspectives

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Strategy and Management
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management
  • Management of Technology and Innovation


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