Narrative Theory

… a core concept in Communication Skills and Atlas 109

StorytellingConcept description

Narrative theory starts from the assumption that narrative is a basic human strategy for coming to terms with fundamental elements of our experience, such as time, process, and change, and it proceeds from this assumption to study the distinctive nature of narrative and its various structures, elements, uses, and effects.

The is a growing body of scholarly work in the field of narrative theory, where for example Ohio State University has nine professors who serve as core faculty members of Project Narrative (at, accessed 20 January 2016).

Narrative is defined by the Free Dictionary as a “a story” and as “a presentation of real-world events that connects them in a story like way.” For most purposes in public management, narrative and narration can be considered synonymous with Storytelling.

The term narrative is widely used in political journalism. Indeed, commentators like Mark Leibovich believe that it is overused. (See, for example, When the ‘Narrative’ Becomes the Story, New York Times, 8 December 2015).


Project Narrative, at, accessed 23 January 2016.

Normed topic and synthetic course with which the concept is primarily associated

This concept is primarily associated with the core normed topic Persuading and is included in the synthetic course outline Atlas109 Leadership and Communication.

Page created by: Ian Clark, last modified on 12 February 2016.

Image: Let’s Plant a Library, at, accessed 23 January 2016.