Webinar – The power of story in a world on fire: Reflections on the transformational power of narratives

5th June 2020, 6 pm CEST

Objective of the Webinar
Drafting ideas for a narrative analysis of the ecological crisis and potential solutions

Expected outcomes
Understanding the meaning of narrative and how it can create a new vision for driving societal change

Target audience
Researchers, practitioners and policy shapers


Talk 1 title The power of story in a world on fire: Reflections on the transformational power of narratives


Main contents How do societies change? While this question might have been interesting only for historians in the past, the ecological crisis has made it one of the most urgent questions to answer. In fact, it might be that the survival of humankind as such depends on finding the right answers. The Enlightenment had established the firm belief that humanity advances through an individual (Kant) or societal (Hegel) learning process based on reason. At the beginning of the 21st century, this belief turns out to be overly optimistic. Reason is under pressure on various frontlines: Postmodern philosophy has deconstructed the idea of truth and the climate emergency has demonstrated the motivational limits of abstract reason(s). Scientists pile up study over study on the emergency of climate action and assume that people (and societies in general) react to these new environmental conditions and adapt their behavior and processes. However, most people simply don’t care. Established routines of production and consumption do not only not change, they even keep accelerating the crisis: Half of the CO2 that humankind ever produced, was emitted after Al Gore’s first book on the environmental crisis over only the last 30 years. How do societies change? How can we actively transform them towards economic practices that are better aligned with the limits of the planet? I will investigate one path that since Plato already has been systematically devaluated: Societies follow narratives, not reason. Those narratives include the values and beliefs that guide behavior unconsciously. If we want to transform society, we have to understand our current (eroding) narrative and examine, how we can create a new vison based on a new set of values and beliefs. Going back to the work of Alexander von Humboldt’s on nature and Wilhelm von Humboldt’s work on language, I will propose a potential direction for a new narrative.


Speaker Shot bio

Guido Palazzo is Professor of Business Ethics at HEC, University of Lausanne, Vice Dean for programs and student affairs and director of the executive education of HEC. He studied business administration and philosophy at the University of Bamberg (Germany) and wrote his PhD in political philosophy at the University of Marburg (Germany). In is research he investigates corporate responsibility in global supply chains, the mechanisms of (un)ethical decision making in organizations, the fight against organized crime and the impact of storytelling on behavior. He is one of the most cited business ethics scholar in the world. His articles have been published in journals such as Academy of Management Review, Academy of Management Journal, Journal of Management Studies, Business Ethics Quarterly and Journal of Business Ethics. He is associate editor of the Business Ethics Quarterly and sits on the editorial boards of the Journal of Management Studies, the Academy of Management Review and Business & Society. One of his recent papers on Cosa Nostra in Sicily was one of three finalists of the prestigious Academy of Management Journal best paper award 2016. Guido Palazzo has received the Max Weber Award for his research on multinational corporations by the German president.


The webinar is free of charge for both THA members and non-members

Registration link

If you are not a THA member, join us today and get the right to attend all our webinars, and much more!