2004
Volume 50, Issue 2
  • ISSN: 1384-6930
  • E-ISSN: 1875-7286

Abstract

Abstract

In 2019 it became clear that the Dutch tax authorities had wrongly reclaimed childcare benefits on a large scale, with major consequences for the parents involved. The benefits affair also meant a crisis for the tax authorities. Disruptive events in an organization can lead to what Karl Weick calls a ‘collapse of meaning’: a situation in which people no longer experience their (organizational) reality as logical, consistent and morally acceptable. In such a period people look for meaning, cohesion and identity. This study is about the role of narratives in an organization in dealing with an organizational crisis. We analyzed internal online narratives at the tax authorities about the allowance affair. Our analysis shows, among other things, how identity questions put other questions out of sight and how patterns in the interactions between administrators and employees reinforce certain dysfunctional narratives. Our findings show the importance of an active listening policy and the exemplary role that managers play in this.

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