Exploring the material discursive production of organisational learning within the storytelling performances of merger and acquisition practitioners

Etieno Enang

Research output: Thesis (awarded by external institution)Doctoral Thesis


How do entangled reconfigurings of spacetimematter-ing co-constitute organisational learning within the storytelling performances of M&A practitioners? This thesis explores how we might consider this question theoretically while engaging with it empirically. In engaging with this theoretically I read insights from Boje’s storytelling theory and Barads agential realism paradigm through one another. Framed within an agential realism paradigm, this study employs a qualitative, post-humanist approach that considers storytelling as a material-discursive practice co-constituted by humans and non-humans, and explores how learning is enacted within storytelling practices. The empirical material with which to think from and with this question was mainly drawn from 58 conversations enacted over a threeyear engagement with 9 M&A practitioners located across 5 different countries and several tools used in their day to day M&A practices. These practitioners were undergoing changes to their core tasks and work processes. The conversations with the practitioners were enacted mainly through Skype and Zoom. In addition to the more formal conversations, the study draws on conversations with practitioners via WhatsApp chat and email exchanges. This thesis tells a number of entangled stories, and explores how dis/continuous learning is enacted within the storytelling practices of M&A managers and how this learning enables changes to their existing organisational M&A practices. In particular it examines how embodied storytelling informs and guides how actors approach learning. The literature review examines prior publications in the field of M&As from both functionalist and interpretivist paradigm. The research account tells stories about production of learning within conventional narrative apparatus, living story apparatus and intraview apparatus. The study explores how different apparatuses allow different opportunities for learning, therefore learning is about response-ability, becoming attuned to agential cutting as they occur within storytelling practices. In the discussion chapter, insights from the storytelling of M&A scholars, M&A practitioners and the researcher are then read through one another. The primary contribution of the thesis is methodological, as it provides an in-depth longitudinal exploration of the process of dis/continuous learning within M&As, thus addressing the limited presence of storytelling perspectives of learning in M&As. Additionally, the thesis advances an 4 ontoepistemological approach to investigating storytelling and learning. Drawing on insights from quantum physics this study illustrates that storytelling occurs through diffraction and learning is about bodymind attunement to agential cutting as they occur within day to day practices. The study argues for the significance of space, time and matter-ing to learning, and the need for practitioners to become more attuned to the affective flows between human and non-humans within their day to day practices. More generally, the thesis has argued for the value of material-discursive storytelling for understanding how managers learn during complex events, while identifying limitations to conventional narrative, living story and intraview apparatuses for the production of learning.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • University of Strathclyde
  • Sminia, Harry, Supervisor, External person
Award date25 Mar 2020
Publication statusPublished - 25 Mar 2020
Externally publishedYes


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