Narrative Change

How Changing the Story Can Transform Society, Business, and Ourselves

Hans Hansen

Columbia Business School Publishing

Narrative Change

Pub Date: July 2020

ISBN: 9780231184427

224 Pages

Format: Hardcover

List Price: $27.95£22.00

Pub Date: July 2020

ISBN: 9780231545488

224 Pages

Format: E-book

List Price: $26.99£22.00

Narrative Change

How Changing the Story Can Transform Society, Business, and Ourselves

Hans Hansen

Columbia Business School Publishing

Texas prosecutors are powerful: in cases where they seek capital punishment, the defendant is sentenced to death over ninety percent of the time. When management professor Hans Hansen joined Texas’s newly formed death penalty defense team to rethink their approach, they faced almost insurmountable odds. Yet while Hansen was working with the office, they won seventy of seventy-one cases by changing the narrative for death penalty defense. To date, they have succeeded in preventing well over one hundred executions—demonstrating the importance of changing the narrative to change our world.

In this book, Hansen offers readers a powerful model for creating significant organizational, social, and institutional change. He unpacks the lessons of the fight to change capital punishment in Texas—juxtaposing life-and-death decisions with the efforts to achieve a cultural shift at Uber. Hansen reveals how narratives shape our everyday lives and how we can construct new narratives to enact positive change. This narrative change model can be used to transform corporate cultures, improve public services, encourage innovation, craft a brand, or even develop your own leadership.

Narrative Change provides an unparalleled window into an innovative model of change while telling powerful stories of a fight against injustice. It reminds us that what matters most for any organization, community, or person is the story we tell about ourselves—and the most effective way to shake things up is by changing the story.
This is a smart and eminently readable treatment of a novel approach to social, organizational, and personal change through the analysis and alteration of embedded—and often unrecognized—cultural narratives. Practical applications of Hans Hansen’s thoughtful approach to narrative change are provided throughout the book highlighted by an impressive, first-hand account of how a small team of social justice advocates was able to change the way the death penalty operates in Texas. The writing is lively and enthusiastic, and carries readers along a storyline that rests on solid scholarship and considerable social science research. A must-read for those interested in the role our narratives play in maintaining or transforming the status quo. John Van Maanen, emeritus professor of organization studies, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and author of Tales of the Field
The way Hans has changed the death penalty in Texas has been miraculous! If his narrative change methods can work on that inexorable institution, they can work anywhere. If Hans says this is the way to change something, just do it! Sister Helen Prejean, author of Dead Man Walking
Hansen shows us how narrative theory can be used for social change in a way that is both theoretically simple and eminently practical—an unusual combination in modern approaches to change. He does this by telling the story of how he inadvertently got involved with fighting the death penalty in Texas and the surprising success they had when they used these ideas. This is not only a must-read for anyone interested in social change, it is a great story that is nearly impossible to put down. Steven S. Taylor, professor of leadership and creativity and dean ad interim, Foisie Business School, Worcester Polytechnic Institute
Hans Hansen has produced a brilliant, thought-provoking, and inspiring book on how narrative models can influence organizational change. Drawing on compelling institutional and organizational examples, the book scores highly for logic of argument and clarity of exposition. Rich in concepts, it offers a unique perspective on change management; every page has something fascinating and important to say. John Hassard, Alliance Manchester Business School
I started out thinking this was the best business book I have ever read. I was wrong. It’s the best book I’ve ever read. Period. LoNita Sharp, global HR professional

About the Author

Hans Hansen is associate professor of management in the Rawls College of Business at Texas Tech University, where he is also the director of the Center for Innovative Organizations, and an Embrey Human Rights Fellow at Southern Methodist University. He is coeditor of The SAGE Handbook of New Approaches in Management and Organization (2008).