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Telling stories and the practice of collaboration

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Purpose – Stories and the telling of stories constitute a major part of our daily life, yet how this happens is not clearly understood. The purpose of this paper is to focus on the ways in which stories challenge the notions of knowledge that are common in the “classical” scientific tradition. It also aims to focus on the function of stories in the collaborative, interpersonal and inter-organisational dynamics of the way knowledge is built up in daily life. Design/methodology/approach – The paper explores changes in the notion of knowledge (and what is considered scientific method). Firstly, it identifies various genealogies in which previous limitations on the experiences to be included as knowledge have been extended. Secondly, the paper will look at experiences that link to the telling of stories, and explore the way they challenge as well as link to previous notions and extensions of knowledge in collaborative contexts. Findings – A core characteristic of stories and their telling is an increase in people's awareness both of others as sources of intentional variation as well as of their cultural and human heritage. Originality/value – The paper initiates a much-needed discussion of the nature of knowledge as it relates to story telling. It links the experiences elicited by story telling to a genealogy of knowledge that identifies the difficulties of including experiences other than observations (e.g. uncertainty, intentionality). To study stories one needs to search for constraints on how individuals link to other individuals. The paper proposes how one might study stories by considering how they contribute to an extension of existing concepts of knowledge.

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