Seminar 17

Researching personal and life stories:
Some Do’s and Don’ts for researchers


Rescheduled for 16 May 2011


A seminar aimed for researchers (including PhD students) interested in using stories and storytelling as part of a rich and rigorous research agenda in any field of the social sciences.

Organizer: Yiannis Gabriel, University of Bath

Professor Alexandra Georgakopoulou, King’s College, London
Professor David Sims, Cass Business School
Professor Yiannis Gabriel, University of Bath


To be held at the University of Bath,
Carpenter House,
Broad Quay,
Bath, Avon, BA1 1UD

The Storytelling Seminar brings together scholars, research students and practitioners who are interested in the nature of stories and storytelling in organizations and the use of stories in research on different aspects of organizational life, including politics, gender, culture, leadership and emotion. Now in its 10th year, the seminar has taken place in a variety of academic institutions including Imperial College, University of Exeter, University College Cork, The Free University of Amsterdam, the Humanistics University of Utrecht, Royal Holloway University of London, City University, Queen Mary’s College and the University of East Anglia.

The ethos of the seminar is to stimulate discussion and argument among people who share a fascination and love for stories and storytelling and believe that stories open valuable windows into the world of organizations and their members. To this end, the number of participants is limited to no more than 45 and the cost of participation is kept low.

Some Storytelling Seminars are aimed predominantly at PhD students who are interested in using stories as part of their research methodology. This upcoming seminar is aimed equally at seasoned researchers and PhD students using storytelling as part of their research. It is not intended for practitioners using storytelling in consulting.

Following earlier discussions, this seminar will look more closely at research into personal and life stories. The seminar will encourage all participants, irrespective of their experience and expertise, to discuss and develop scholarship in these areas that are crucial in organizational research.

Seminar Sessions

Session 1

David Sims, Cass Business School

Taking a life for a walk

Paul Klee described art as ‘taking a life for a walk’. I have been fascinated for a long time by the way in which people take a life for a walk. My academic interest has been more in storying than stories. How do I develop the next chapters of the novel which is my life? How do I manage the interaction between my own pre-casting of the story and the events which impinge on it, but which are outside my control? I have also been interested in the relationship between the research which all people carry out in order to develop meaning and understanding in their worlds (in the tradition of Kelly) and research by those of us who are professional researchers. People are engaged in investigating how they can develop their stories both by expanding their imagination about where they could go next (is that one of the motivations for reading novels?) and by trying to research the costs, likelihood, and return