The topic of fiction is in itself not new to the domain of organization studies. However, prior research has often separated fiction from the reality of organizations and used fiction metaphorically or as a figurative source to describe and interpret organizations. In this article, we go beyond the classic use of fiction, and suggest that fiction should be a central concern in organization studies. We draw on the philosophy of fiction to offer an alternative account of the nature of fiction and its basic operation. We specifically import Searle’s work on speech acts, Walton’s pretense theory, Iser’s fictionalizing acts, and Ricoeur’s work on narrative fiction to theorize about organizations as fictions. In doing so, we hope that we not only offer an account of the “ontological status” of organizations but also provide a set of theoretical coordinates and lenses through which, separately or together, the notion of organizations as fictions can be approached and understood.
- Paul Ricoeur