Portsmouth Business School

22nd Organisational Storytelling Seminar

Leadership in the 'post-truth' era: Storytelling for good or evil?

Leaders can inspire through stories...

Hosted by Portsmouth Business School's Centre for Strategy and Leadership

Organisers: Dr Hamid Foroughi and Professor James McCalman

University of Portsmouth - Thursday 8 June 2017, 09.30 - 17.30

Keynote speakers: Professor Yiannis Gabriel, University of Bath, Professor David Snowden, Bangor University, Professor Monika Kostera, Durham University

Leaders can inspire others through stories. Their fables, adventures and achievements provide a rich narrative through which they frequently appear as larger than life characters, conquering heroes, devious schemers or immoral villains. In these scenarios, leaders use the medium of the tale to paint portraits of the future, "effective leaders put words to the formless longings and deeply felt needs of others. They create communities out of words. They tell stories that capture minds and win hearts.” (Bennis, 1996, p. 160). In this sense, stories become powerful means of communication and persuasion, imparting meaning to ambiguous events, disseminating moral (and immoral) messages and prompting action (Weick, & Browning, 1986, Gabriel, 2005).  Scholarship in this area has also delineated the functionality of stories in training and developing leaders (Morgan & Dennehy, 1997), facilitating change (Adamson, Pine, Van Steenhoven, & Kroupa, 2006; Brown, Gabriel, & Gherardi, 2009) and influencing culture (Schein, 2006).

While the literature is clear about the centrality and functionality of stories in leadership processes, it is also acknowledged that stories are uncertain and complex, and hence difficult to use as tools (see e.g. Boje, 2006; Parry & Hansen, 2007; Sintonen & Auvinen, 2009).  It seems appropriate to re-visit this literature in the light of the recent rise of ‘post-truth politics’ and the emergence of political and organisational leaders who are avid storytellers and willing to use (or abuse) the plasticity of stories.  Read the full call for papers.


We have accepted a number of papers for presentation at the seminar. You can also attend the seminar as a discussant in which case you do not need to submit a paper. However, if you are interested in submitting a paper to the special issue or to an edited volume on the leadership storytelling, please get in touch. You can discuss further at the conference with seminar organisers.

Selected papers will be considered for a special issue of Leadership. The submission date and process will be announced in the seminar. If you would like to know more please get in touch with the organisers.

Please do not hesitate to contact us in case of any questions.


  • Registration, Fees and Programme

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    Registration, Fees and Programme
  • SAMS Bursaries

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    SAMS Bursaries
  • Venue, Travel and Accommodation

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    Venue, Travel and Accommodation

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