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Organizational remembering as a trigger for cultural change: exploring the episodic memories of a financial scandal

Garcia-Lorenzo, Lucia (2020) Organizational remembering as a trigger for cultural change: exploring the episodic memories of a financial scandal. Scandinavian Journal of Management, 36 (1). ISSN 0956-5221

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Identification Number: 10.1016/j.scaman.2019.101089


Organizational memory research has developed from the 'storage bin' model of memory towards emphasizing collective remembering. We advance this view by proposing organizational remembering not just as the process of evoking past events to reproduce traditions but also as a projection into the future using imagination. Empirically this is illustrated through the qualitative analysis of 27 episodic interviews with employees of a global financial institution, documents and the media coverage of the organization’s involvement in two well-publicized financial scandals. We explore the impact of the episodic memories of those events on employees' readiness for the cultural change programme launched by management after the scandals. The analysis shows how the negative media coverage of the organization generated a powerful dis-confirmation of its working practices among employees and how this was amplified by the strong emotional reactions remembering those events provoked. Management used both to re-frame the past in a narrative used to increase receptiveness to change. Yet the past was brought differently into the present by different organizational groups depending on the future each group imagined, counteracting the impact of the generic management narrative. The findings illustrate the collective, emotional and imaginative qualities of organizational remembering and provide new insights into the process of cultural change through the lens of memory showing how while memories may be shaped by management to respond to crisis, they can also become part of prospective and transformative change processes.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2019 Elsevier Ltd
Divisions: Psychological and Behavioural Science
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
H Social Sciences > HG Finance
Date Deposited: 26 Nov 2019 16:00
Last Modified: 27 Nov 2021 00:07

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