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Narrative Change Management in American Studies

A Pragmatic Reading


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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11 Conclusion and Outlook


Image: The Three Cultures Change Committee. Source: Modified image based on Doppler and Lauterburg 65

This is a story about four people named Everybody, Somebody, Anybody and Nobody. There was an important job to be done and Everybody was asked to do it. Everybody was sure that Somebody would do it. Anybody could have done it, but Nobody did it. Somebody got angry about that because it was Everybody’s job. Everybody thought Anybody could do it but Nobody realized that Everybody wouldn’t do it. It ended up that Everybody blamed Somebody when Nobody did what Everybody could have done. (qtd. in Doppler and Lauterburg 65)

←397 | 398→The change management experts Klaus Doppler and Christoph Lauterburg employ this story and the original version of the image in their discussion of how continuous change will redefine leadership and managerial challenges. I took the liberty of modifying the image according to the topic at hand in my study. Just like corporations find themselves facing constant change, so is the university landscape. Like the members in a corporate boardroom who represent different functional divisions, universities combine different disciplines and subjects under their roof. Surely, there have been many changes as to what and how all of them do what they do. But one thing has not and will never change: The “what” and the “how” depend on the doing. I started the preface to this book with the quote by Pfeffer and Sutton according to which knowing “how” to...

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