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Narrative Change Management in American Studies

A Pragmatic Reading

Series:

Silke Schmidt

Management means getting things done. How can research on the theory and practice of management help American Studies move forward? This book offers a pragmatic approach to bridging the gap between the humanities and business studies. Based on a critical reading of the disciplinary cultures of American Studies and Business School education, the book analyses narratives of U.S. management theorists and practitioners, including Peter F. Drucker, Mary Cunningham, and John P. Kotter. The stories help readers acquire effective management and leadership tools for application-oriented humanities in the digital age.

"With her outsider perspective on the discourse in management research and application, Schmidt proposes interesting questions that can turn into fruitful research issues in Business Studies and its interdisciplinary exchange with American Studies. I hope this book falls on open ears." – Evelyn Korn

"Schmidt did pioneering work by taking the risk of entering novel terrain to show new paths for the further development of American Studies." – Carmen Birkle

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5 The Culture of American Studies

Extract

There is a Taoist55 story of an old farmer who had worked his crops for many years. One day his horse ran away. Upon hearing the news, his neighbors came to visit. “Such bad luck,” they said sympathetically. “Maybe,” the farmer replied. The next morning the horse returned, bringing with it three other wild horses. “How wonderful,” the neighbors exclaimed. “Maybe,” replied the old man. The following day, his son tried to ride one of the untamed horses, was thrown, and broke his leg. The neighbors again came to offer their sympathy on his misfortune. “Maybe,” answered the farmer. The day after, military officials came to the village to draft young men into the army. Seeing that the son’s leg was broken, they passed him by. The neighbors congratulated the farmer on how well things had turned out. “Maybe,” said the farmer. (Greason 183)

Coaches56 like using stories like this one. It shows clients that there are always two sides to a situation. One’s response depends on the mind-set one has and the perspective one takes. Why start a chapter about American Studies with a story like this? Do ‘we’ need a coach? When reading the culture of American Studies, it turns out that the field has done a fair amount of self-coaching already. When it comes to the crucial aspect of methodology, the farmer image prevails. Maybe we should have our own method. ←123 | 124→Maybe not. As always in life, there are at least two ways...

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