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Abstract

In this conceptual paper, we consider organizational storytelling as a communications tool in which stories are used to reduce the stress and anxiety of organizational members during a crisis. While there is much consensus among organizational scholars detailing storytelling's active role in such processes as organizational learning and performance (Boje, 1991; Czarniawska, 1998), knowledge sharing and knowledge management (Denning, 2000), management development (Morgan & Dennehy, 1997), and normative organizational behavior (Poulton, 2005), the literature is still evolving on how the act of storytelling could facilitate not only how organizational members make sense of a crisis, but also how they adapt to the inevitable organizational changes following a crisis. In particular, storytelling—with its narrative process—can be utilized to manage how the organizational members react to the crisis by absorbing what Patriotta (2003) called “the discordance by constructing a plot around a disruptive occurrence” (p. 163). Indeed, making sense of a crisis follows Weick's (1995) disruption-transformation-solution framework. We argue that storytelling should be part of an organization's crisis-management program, per se. As human resource development and organizational crisis-management disciplines share great commonality and concerns in areas dealing with organizational behavior during crises, we propose that storytelling can be used as HRD's toolkit in leveraging human capital pre-, during, and post-crises.