Spirituality, Symbolism and Storytelling in Twentyfirst-Century Organizations: Understanding and addressing the crisis of imagination

Marianna Fotaki, Yochanan Altman, Juliette Koning

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article introduces the Special Issue concerned with organizational spirituality, symbolism and storytelling. Stressing the growing scholarly interest in these topics, the article makes a two-fold contribution. First, it critically assesses their development over time while identifying the emerging trends and new ways in which spirituality, symbolism and storytelling are taken up in management and organization studies. We make a case for utilizing their promise to transcend the epistemic boundaries and extend the scope of our academic practice beyond self-referential approaches or ‘fashionable’ topics. Second, it links them to what we term the current crises of imagination, calling into question extant institutional and organizational paradigms, as well as the theoretical frames we rely on in our teaching and research. The multiple crises we face – economic, financial, food, water, energy, climate, migration and security – we suggest, are partly due to the fragmentation of meaning that bedevils our scholarship and, implicitly, the failure of our collective imagination. Reaching across foundational disciplines and core methodologies, we bring into the conversation the interlocking fields of spirituality, symbolism and storytelling, highlighting their potential for addressing the cardinal challenges we face as citizens of this world as much as organizational scholars.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7-30
Number of pages24
JournalOrganization Studies
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2019.


  • anthropology
  • ethnography
  • imagination
  • metaphor
  • religion
  • spirituality
  • storytelling
  • symbolism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Strategy and Management
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management
  • Management of Technology and Innovation


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