Community Action and Organizational Change: Image, Narrative, Identity

Faber, B.D. (2002). “Organizational Change as Community Action.” Community Action and Organizational Change: Image, Narrative, Identity. Carbondale, IL: Southern Illinois University Press: 166-196.


In this book, Brenton Faber weaves an argument through stories, narrative, and academic prose to present a compelling case about the status of organizational research. To Faber, all organizations are characteristic in that they embody both narrative and image. To Faber, narratives are the internal stories told within organizations, whereas images relate to the way others outside of that organization relate to it. When image and narrative clash, it creates a discord for that organization’s identity, causing issues in leadership, vision, morale, and ethics.  I’ve found Faber’s book to be most useful because of the concept of a researcher’s choice to study either genres (stable patterns of communication) or change (temporal, fleeting forms of communication) is very much a political one with its own set of implications. To Faber, researchers interested in organizational change must be engaged in acts of change to truly understand that process.


There are two primary forms through which researchers can enact change and do work beyond the walls of the university: action research and service learning. These takeaways from Faber’s text speak to me because I’m very much interested in researching organizational change, particularly though uses and practices with communication technologies. As I move forward with this work, it is vital for me to acknowledge the political stance of my positionality and the need to be thoroughly engaged in change processes as a participant.  Further, it is important for me to always be conscious of how research and pedagogy can work from and off each other to enact change in communities.