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date: 14 November 2019

Abstract and Keywords

We explore and extend an emerging interest in understanding the relationship between language and history in organizational identity work. Recent research has focused attention on the role of “temporal talk” in creating identity—that is, how discourse about the past, present, and future constructs identification. These studies understate the degree of agency in temporal talk and fail to capture the importance of history as a competitive resource. We introduce the term “rhetorical history” to draw attention to the high degree of deliberate and strategic use of persuasive language to construct historical identity narratives in corporations. We also elaborate the understanding, within organizations, of history as critical resource that can be deployed to manage membership with a broad range of organizational stakeholders.

Keywords: history, identity work, identification, language, rhetorical history

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