The limits of the narratives of strategy: three stories from the history of music retail

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This paper examines the role of narrative framing in the perception of strategic success by exploring the construction of notions of strategy in relation to the perspective of different actors in the same historical episode. Our article is about the UK music retailing industry from the late 1950s until the present. We narrate three stories/accounts – one focusing on the perspective of larger firms in the industry, acting as a normative business history narration, one focusing on the perspective of the mass of smaller firms attempting to survive as larger competitors expand, and one–an epilogue–looking at the recent past in which some of the smaller firms managed to survive while many of the dominant firms from the 1980s and 1990s have failed. We use this both to construct a more diverse historiography of the music retail industry in Britain while advancing the theoretical contribution that narratives of strategic success and failure often favour conceptualizations of dominance over resistance, while failing to reflect on the extent to which historical research itself is an act of sense-making that is bounded by periodization and theoretical priors.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)273-296
JournalManagement & Organizational History
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 26 Jan 2021

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