Antenarrative is a story concept invented by David Boje in 2001, Narrative Methods for Organization and Communication Research. London, Sage. In ‘antenarrative’ (Boje, 2001), storytelling is no more than a bet, a scrawny pre-story. Antenarrative is defined as “non-linear, incoherent, collective, unplotted, and pre-narrative speculation, a bet, a proper retrospective narrative with Beginning, Middle, and End (BME) can be constituted” (Boje, 2001: 1). Antenarratives are “in the middle” and “in-between” (Boje, 2001: 293) refusing to attach linear BME coherence. Whereas, most BME narratives and narrative fragments are retrospective (backward-looking) antenarratives are more often prospective (forward=looking. BME Narratives must achieve coherence, developmental plots required by narrative theorists (Gabriel, 2000:20, 22; Czarniawska, 1997: 79, 98; 1998: vii, 2).

Antenarratology - is defined as the study of antenarratives in interplay with stories and narratives. Whereas retrospective narratives typically have beginnings, middles, and ends (BMEs) stories are more part of the living fabric of the social, more co-created, unfolding in the present moment of Being, and prospective into the future of the social. Critical antenarratology is a method to trace and deconstruct an ongoing interweaving antenarrating this is always composing and self-deconstructing.

Antenarratives have five dimensions (Boje, 2001: 3-5). 1. Antenarrative is about the Tamara of storytelling. Tamara is a play where ten characters unfold their stories before a walking, sometimes running, audience that fragments into small groups to chase characters and storylines from room to room. 2. Antenarrative is a collective (prospective) memory before it becomes reified into the organization story, or consensual (official) narrative. 3. Antenarrative directs our analytic attention to the flow of storytelling, as lived experience before the narrative requirements of beginnings, middles or endings. 4. Antenarrative gives attention to the speculative, the ambiguity of sensemaking and guessing as to what is happing in the flow of experience. 5. Antenarrating is both before story and a bet of prospective-transformation through supplements, dropping and picking up meaning in each successive context, and remaining unfinalized.

The value of antenarratives is that they occur in social networks. Their arcologies are only beginning to be charted. In prior work antenarratives have been thought to pick up and jettison context, morphing over time, as them move through social networks.

Antenarrative in Management ResearchEdit

The first ever use of the term antenarrative is Boje (2001a) Narrative Methods for Organization and Communication Research (London: Sage). In 2001 Boje delivered two papers in Europe on antenarrative (Boje, 2001b,c). In 2002, he also developed the theory in a keynote address to the Discourse Conference in a paper delivered on Enron antenarratives, that became the basis for a co-authored article in Organization Studies Journal (Boje, Rosile, Durant, & Luhman, 2004).

There has been increasing interest in antenarrative theory and research since Boje's theory building and research on antenarrative (Boje, 2001a,b,c, 2002) and subsequent collaborative work 2005, 2007a, b, c, 2008, forthcoming) and my work with colleagures (Boje & Rosile, 2002, 2003; Boje, Rosile, Durant, & Luhman, 2004; Boje, Rosile & Gardner, 2007), such as important work done with the initial our formulations (Barge 2004; Collins & Rainwater, 2005; Vickers, 2005; Yolles, 2007).

Walter Benjamin's (1936) Illuminations examines the rise of the novel and the decline of storytelling. Benjamin found industrialization and standardization as well as a decline in the value of experience as the likely culprits in this unfortunate trend. The differences between stories and novels are highlighted along with some salient examples. In Benjamin's estimation, Paul Valery, epitomizes the qualities of a storyteller. Benjamin expands upon Valery's observations about the decline of the idea of eternity: "It has been observable for a number of centuries how in the general consciousness the thought of death has declined in omnipresence and vividness." Benjamin also comments on the decline of the ability for people to listen and a loss of the value of craftsmanship, essential elements of a culture of storytelling.

This three-ness of time is the essence of storytelling (narrative, living story, & antenarrative). Currie (1998) makes the point that narrative is a bit too eager to put storytelling into the past, and claims this is happening at an accelerated rate. If this is true, then narrative transforms present of living story networks to the past without much noticing, and in its future perfect sense, narrative looks back from the future in a linear path (BME).

See alsoEdit


Barge, J.K. (2004) `Antenarrative and Managerial Practice' , Communication Studies 55(1): 106-27.

Boje, D. M. 2001a. Narrative Methods for Organizational and Communication Research. London: Sage.

Boje, D. M. (2001b). Flight of Antenarrative in Phenomenal Complexity Theory, Tamara, Storytelling Organization Theory. September 20th, paper to honor Professor Hugo Letiche and his work on Phenomenal Complexity Theory, for the September 24th and 25th Conference on Complexity and Consciousness at Huize Molenaar (Korte Nieuwstraat 6) in the old center of Utrecht, Netherlands. [1]

Boje, D. M. (2001c). “Antenarrating, Tamara, and Nike Storytelling.” Paper prepared for presentation at “Storytelling Conference” at the School of Management; Imperial College, 53 Prince’s Gate, Exhibition Road, London, July 9th, 2001. On line at [2]

Boje, D. M. 2002. "Critical Dramaturgical Analysis of Enron Antenarratives and Metatheatre". Plenary presentation to 5th International Conference on Organizational Discourse: From Micro-Utterances to Macro-Inferences, Wednesday 24th - Friday 26th July (London).

Boje. D. M. 2005. Empire Reading of Manet's Execution of Maximilian: Critical Visual Aesthetics and Antenarrative Spectrality. Tamara Journal. Vol 4 (4): 118-134. [3]

Boje, D. M. 2007. "The Antenarrative Cultural Turn in Narrative Studies" in Mark Zachry & Charlotte Thralls (Eds.) Communicative Practices in Workplaces and the Professions: Cultural Perspectives on the Regulation of Discourse and Organizations.

Boje, D. M. & Rosile, G.A. 2002. "Enron Whodunit?" Ephemera, 2(4), pp. 315-327.

Boje, D. M. & Rosile, G.A. 2003. "Life Imitates Art: Enron’s Epic and Tragic Narration". Management Communication Quarterly, 17(1), 85-125.

Boje, D. M. (2007a). Chapter 13 Living Story: From Wilda to Disney, pp.330-354. Handbook of Narrative Inquiry: Mapping a New Methodology. Edited by Jean Clandinin, London: Sage.

Boje, D. M. (2007b). "The Antenarrative Cultural Turn in Narrative Studies" in Mark Zachry & Charlotte Thralls (Eds.) Communicative Practices in Workplaces and the Professions: Cultural Perspectives on the Regulation of Discourse and Organizations.

Boje, D. M. (2007c). Globalization Antenarratives. Pp. 505-549, Chapter 17 in Albert Mills, Jeannie C. Helms-Mills & Carolyn Forshaw (Eds). Organizational Behavior in a Global Context. Toronto: Garamond Press. [4]

Boje, D. M., Rosile, G.A., Durant, R.A. & Luhman, J.T. 2004 "Enron Spectacles: A Critical Dramaturgical Analysis". Special Issue on Theatre and Organizations edited by Georg Schreyögg and Heather Höpfl, Organization Studies, 25(5):751-774.

Boje, D. M. & Grace Ann Rosile (2002). Enron Whodunit? Ephemera. Vol 2(4), pp. 315- 327. [5]

Boje, D. M. & Rosile, G.A. (2003). Life Imitates Art: Enrons Epic and Tragic Narration. Management Communication Quarterly. Vol. 17 (1): 85-125.

Boje, D. M., Rosile, G.A., Durant, R.A. & Luhman, J.T. 2004 "Enron Spectacles: A Critical Dramaturgical Analysis". Special Issue on Theatre and Organizations edited by Georg Schreyögg and Heather Höpfl, Organization Studies, 25(5):751-774. Available on line at [6]

Boje, D. M.; Rosile, G. A.; & Gardner, C. L. 2007. "Antenarratives, Narratives and Anaemic Stories" Chapter 4, pp. 30-45, Storytelling in Management, Editors: Ms. Nasreen Taher and Ms. Swapna Gopalan, Publisher: The Icfai University Press, India, First Edition: 2007 (Note: was based upon Paper presented in Showcase Symposium, Academy of Management,. Mon Aug 9 2004 in New Orleans). See conference version [7]

Collins, D. & Rainwater, K. 2005. "Managing change at Sears: a sideways look at a tale of corporate transformation". Journal of Organizational Change Management, 18(1): 16-30.

Czarniawska, B. 1997. Narrating the Organization: Dramas of Institutional Identity. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Czarniawska, B. 1998. "A Narrative Approach to Organization Studies". Qualitative Research methods Series Vol. 43. Thousand Oaks, Ca; Sage Publications, Inc.

Czarniawska, B. (2004). Narratives in social science research: London: Sage

Currie, M. (1998). Postmodern narrative theory. NY St. Martin’s Press Czarniawska, B. (2004). Narratives in social science research: London: Sage

Dalcher, D. & Drevin, L. 2003. "Learning from information systems failures by using narrative and antenarrative methods". Proceedings of SAICSIT, pages 137-142.

Deleuze, G. & Guattari, F. 1987. A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia. Translation by B. Massumi. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

Gabriel, Y. 2000. Storytelling in Organizations: Facts, fictions, and fantasies. London: Oxford University Press.

Gardner, C. 2002. "An exploratory study of bureaucratic, heroic, chaos, postmodern and hybrid story typologies of the expatriate journey". Dissertation in Management Department of College of Business Administration and Economics.

Vickers, M. H. (2005). Illness, work and organization: Postmodernism and antenarratives for the reinstatement of voice. Tamara Journal of Critical Organization Inquiry, 3 (2): 1-15.

Yolles, M. (2007). The dynamics of narrative and antenarrative and their relation to story. Journal of Organizational Change Management. Vol. 20, No. 1: 74 – 94.

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