2019 Presentation to ISEOR Doctoral Students

Why is SEAM’s
self-correcting ‘storytelling science’
better than Appreciative Inquiry at Conserving the Virutal Water of the Planet?

David M. Boje

Professor, Aalborg University (Denmark)

Emeritus & Regents Professor, New Mexico State University

Director, European School of Governance


        It is time to do 'storytelling science' that does refutation of organizational theories rather than just 'appreciative inquiry' into ad hoc and post hoc confirmations of what corporations are telling us.Appreciative Inquiry collects 'positive stories' and affirms the grand corporate narratives of positivity. Some water corporations are doing bluewashing of the global water crisis that they themselves are creating in order to make more money. For example, it is ironic that Goldman Sachs is ditching single-use plastic water bottles (source) while at the same time buying up fresh water land with aquifers, lakes, water rights, water utilities and shares in water engineering and water technology companies.  They are making 'bets on the future (what I call 'antenarratives) that by controlling the supply of water (& water engineering services) that water demand will exceed water supply, and the price of fresh water will increase astronomically. This is no time to let Appreciative Inquiry be the methodology of choice of multinational water corporations unapologetically justifying the privatizing and commodifying the world's fresh water resources. I propose here a critical 'storytelling science' of self-correcting that can help to avert a global water catastrophe. People need to understand that 97.5% of the planet's water is saltwater, leaving 2.5% fresh water, and most of that is inaccessible (too deep in the ground, or in glaciers and snow packs). By 2050, if not sooner, some 4 billion people (most of the population of planet earth) will be in severe water scarcity (no fresh water to drink), while the rest of humanity pays higher and higher prices for a shrinking supply, that is hoarded in fewer and fewer hands.

        We need to be preparing in advance to avert a fresh water apocalypse. Today and everyday, 6,000 children die of preventable water-borne illnesses, and entire cities are running short of water, and some have no tap water, and no water sanitation, and no toilets. People need to become aware of where water comes from, who owns it, and who is engaged in water speculation markets, and manipulating available water supply, to increase demand, and affect water prices, so they can increase their multibillionaire profits by even more billions of dollars, and to what end? T. Boone Pickens' new company, Mesa Water, has been buying up ground water rights in Roberts County, Texas - 200,000 acres in all. He says that over a 30-year period, he expects to make more than $1 billion on his investment of $75 million (source).

        Not just Goldman Sachs understands the plastic pollution pandemic of the planet, but also the new 'water barons' of Wall Street banks (JP Morgan Chase, Citigroup, UBS, Deutsche Bank, Credit Suisse, Macquarie Bank, Barclays Bank, the Blackstone Group, Allianz, and HSBC), plus elitist multbillionaires such as T. Boone Pickens, former President George H.W. Bush and family (buying water in Paraguay and the
Guarani Aquifer System in Columbia), Hong Kong's Li Ka-shing, Philippines' Manuel V. Pangilinan, and other mutlibillionaires are buying up as many acres of land with aquifers, lakes, reservoirs, their water rights, and water utilities, plus as many shares in water engineering and water technologies as they can get their greedy hands on, all around the world (source). For every narrative there is a counternarrative. For example, the counternarrative is the the Bush and family aquifer in Columbia is being controlled by multiple countries and Nestle, Coke, and PepsiCo (source), and the Bush family cannot possibly control it: " Following a six-year study of the aquifer — led by the World Bank — Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay and Argentina agreed to a first-of-its-kind management plan governing the use of an aquifer by multiple countries that follows the principles set out in the United Nation’s Law of Transboundary Aquifers"(source). Somehow I am not convinced the World Bank has the well being of people and planet as their number one priority (source).

" Representatives of [Nestle and Coca-Cola] have held meetings with government authorities to formulate procedures for exploitation by private companies of water sources, especially in the Guarani Aquifer, in concession contracts for over 100 years — [the senior official] added” (source).

        We have to ask these water barons to respond to Judith Butler's (2005) request, 'Giving an Account of Oneself.' This means asking each water baron, Nestle, Coca-Cola, PepsiCo to give a moral account of oneself, to serious be self-reflexive about the hidden costs of life on planet Earth from hoarding water for speculation, taking water out of the public domain, and placing it by privatization and commodification, into the hands of water speculators.

        I am a storytelling researcher. I study the storytelling dynamics between corporate narrative, counternarratives of activists, the living stories of 'real people' who can only live three days before dying of thirst, and the antenarrative processes (the before, beneath, between, becoming, and those risky bets on the future of humankind and all living species). Antenarratively, this means T. Boone Pickens, G. H. W.. Bush, and other water market speculators are making 'bets on our future, not just their own greed) and are taking water out of the hands of citizens to do it, making water a trade commodity, a game of water casino, gambling with the lives of humanity and all species on planet earth.  Equally disturbing is the collaboration of state and national governments prohibiting citizens from becoming self-sufficient by (1.) prohibiting rainwater harvesting into ponds or rain barrels, (2.) appropriating water rights of individual citizens and separating water rights from land ownership, (3) while granting multinational water corporations (Nestle, Coca-Cola, & PepsiCo) almost free well pumping rights, (4) granting agriculture rights to withdraw as much surface water from (lakes, rivers, and reservoirs as they need, and (5) the increase in plastic, chemical, and pharmaceutical (medications) contamination and pollution of fresh water globally. We know the secret formula of both Coca-Cola and PepsiCo: its caffeine, sugar, and salt so that your mouth and stomach neurons are not connected to your brain neurons that tell you this is a beverage that 'makes you thirsty' and is anything but 'refreshing.' Big Sugar, Big Salt, and Big Caffeine industry money pays lobbyists, buys the complicity of politicians, to keep a beverage in schools, colleges, restaurants, and public buildings that actually is unhealthy, resulting in obesity, diabetes, heart failure, and so on.  The plastic industry profits, but its plastic leaches toxicity, conveys in nanoplastic particles the toxins, the solvents, the insecticides, and every imaginable toxic particle into the food chain, into the once fresh water, so there is less and less really fresh water available for life on planet earth.  It is a time for critical storytelling, to get at the whole storytelling dynamics, in all its complexity, and what my colleagues and I call 'True Storytelling' and no more Fake Storytelling.

        The water speculation of elite multibillionaires, Wall Street banks, and multinational water corporations,  is creating long-term, and perhaps permanent destruction of the global water cycle because it is a closed system, in which, we have exactly as much total water, as at the time of creation of planet Earth, but the amount of fresh water (2.5%) that is sanitary and drinkable, becomes marginally less and lass due to its pollution, and its privatization, speculative market appropriation, and its commodification by multinational water corporations (See
Boje's Storytelling and Water Book)

Boje's (2019a) Storytelling in the Global Age:THERE IS NO PLANET B

         These trends ins water speculation markets, water privatization of water utilities, and water commodification of public water into business water products is creating and exacerbating a downward spiral of longer and longer-term global water crises resulting not only in the destruction of marine and land species, but in the death of most of human kind, by the end of this century.
Let D
wi mean the effective Demand for Water for Period i, expressed unity of multinational water corporation's income for the period (1-I) to the Swi supply of water.

                  Ew0/Sw0 x Dw1/Sw1 x . . . x Dwi/Swi x Dwn/Swn

The Dw exceeds Sw in year 2030 by 40%. At the same time and globally, the multinational water corporations as they privatize and commodify water will dramatically increase the price (P)  to consumers of water utility services, and increase as well prices of bottled water, bottled juice, bottled energy drinks, and bottled soda. This will in turn create a long term cycle of water speculation as multi-billionaire investors buy up water rights around the world, thereby further escalating the price (P) to consumers of fresh water utility bills and bottled sorts of water, soda, juice, and energy drinks.
"Thus, global demand for water in 2030 could prove close to double what it was in 2005— exceeding existing capacity by 40 percent" (McKinsey Report, p. 77).

Socio-Economic Approach to Management (SEAM) can help the global water crisis by doing 'hidden cost' calculations of the 'true' cost of virtual water, and by doing scientific methods of intervention and experimental projects that change multinational corporation water behaviors in their total supply and distribution chains. Virtual Water is defined as the total water it takes in the supply chain to produce a given product or service. When people drink a bottle of Coca-Cola, or Nestle brand of Bottled Water or a PepsiCo Energy Drink, they can stop and think about just how much TOTAL WATER (or virtual water it takes in the entire supply and distribution chain, including the energy, the oil and gas it takes for machinery, offices, vehicles, and so on.
"The water footprint of an individual, community or business is defined as the total volume of freshwater that is used to produce the goods and services consumed by that individual or community or produced by the business" (source).

These are the Predictions:
2030 global water demand will be 40% greater than it is today (McKinsey Report).

By 2030 40% of world’s population will lack access to safe, sanitary water.

In 2030 there will need 60% more fresh water to support demand than we have today in the water cycle.

Developing nations are increasing water withdrawals by 50% and 18% in developing nations.

In short, the fresh water system, if it were a bank, has more withdrawals than deposits, and is bankrupt!
Virtual water by every corporation is now answerable in a socially responsible capitalism.

How is the SEAM method related to Karl Popper and to Charles Sanders Peirce?

Virtual Water is Not Understood by the General Public. Every product and service requires 'virtual water.'

        Virtual water trade refers to the hidden flow of water if food or other commodities are traded from one place to another. For instance, it takes 1,340 cu
bic meters of water to produce one metric tonne of wheat.

How SEAM can calculate Hidden Costs of
                            Virtual Water source

        SEAM can help every organization on Earth to develop Hidden Cost accounting of Virtual Water in their supply and distribution chain. How does water capitalism become socially responsible using SEAM's self-correcting storytelling methodology?

See Boje & Rosile's  Book: 'Doing storytelling science'

        A 'storytelling science' uses self-correcting abduction-induction-deduction to get at closer approximations to 'True Storytelling' of the hidden costs of water, and the Whole Storytelling of the Water Situation Globally.

        SEAM is a scientific method that converts the downward spiral of Virtual Water's Hidden Cost into the Upward Spiral Momentum of Socially Responsible Capitalism. SEAM has a scientific methodology for socio-economic interventions into the behavior of multinational corporations.

SEAM uses scientific methodology in its
                      intervenor research

DPIE sprial for
                      Conserving Virtual Water in Every Organization

        With SEAM's Hidden Cost Diagnostic, and DPIE's done to conserve Virtual Water, a self-correcting storytelling science methodology becomes possible.

What is self-correcting storytelling science BOJE

Problems of France and the World that SEAM 'storytelling science' can address:

1.For Karl Popper it is Zigzag between intuitive hypotheses and testing theories by disconfirmation, not by confirmation
2.For C. S. Pierce it is self-correcting induction by four tests to get closer to Truth
3.For Henri Savall it is self-correcting by ’Agile’ intervention using Peirce’s Abduction-Induction-Deduction in Scientific Method of unleashing human potential

SEAM is already about storytelling science:

SEAM already
              uses storytelling science


2018 Presentation to ODC Conference in Lyon, France

Contriubtions of Savall

At this year's ODC International Meeting my paper and slides make these points:

  1. Grounded Theory has ‘no ground’ and ‘no theory’! (Boje, 2018a, in press)
  2. Action Research has ‘no action’ and ‘no research’! (Boje, 2018b, in press); see 2016 paper ("SEAM’s ‘Storytelling Dialectical Method’ and the
    Failure of Appreciative Inquiry as a Scientific Method of Organizational Development and Change
    ") and slides from 2016 Boje presentation to Organizational Development and Change (international Academy of Management Conference, Lyon).
  3. ODC and SEAM are the minority compared to the 10 Giants of Consultancy $65.5 billion industry! (Boje & Sanchez, 2018a, in press)
  4. Parker (2018) is right! It is time to ‘bulldoze’ 13,000 business schools to make room for IAELyon PRME and True Storytelling (http://truestorytelling.org), Enough Fake (Boje, 2018a, in press).

The solution to these four problems is to be found in Savall's Contributions to scientific consulting and to a new business school model.

ABSTRACT Savall and colleagues contribute a management science of intervenor-research experimentation that goes beyond the inductive fallacy of ‘no ground’ and ‘no theory’ in Grounded Theory (GT) and the ‘no action’ and ‘no research’ in Action Research (AR). Savall’s 1975/2010 double spiral and Savall and Zardet’s trilectic, hidden cost, and qualimetrics approaches are explained in this presentation. Their contribution can become a new methodology and praxis of Organization Development and Change (ODC) that needs to be embraced by the 10 consultancy firm giants that make both SEAM and ODC in Academy of Management (AOM) the little David’s facing Goliath. A viable alternative is the IAELyon PRME business school model that implements the 17 UN sustainability goals.

Keywords: Dialectic, Savall, Spiral, Change Management, Action Research, Grounded Theory, ODC

If ODC is to change the world, it must overtake the dominant form of consulting by the 10 consultancy giants, that are totally infected with and disseminating the TFW virus throughout US Fortune 500.

10 consultancy giants ruining the world

Table above from Boje 2018 presentation on Savall contributions

Abbreviated Chronological Reading List on Savall Contributions:

Savall, Henri. (1975/2010). Work and People: An Economic Evaluation of Job-Enrichment. 1975 book "Enrichir le trail human dans les enterprises et les organizations". 2010 English version is Translated from French by M. A. Woodhall. Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing, Inc.

Savall, H. (1983). Germán Bernácer. La heterodoxia en la economía (No. halshs-00783092).

Savall, H. (2003). An updated presentation of the socio-economic management model. Journal of Organizational Change Management, 16(1), 33-48.

Savall, H. (2001). interview with the SEAM Faculty (Henri Savall, Veronique Zardet, Marc Bonnet and Michel Péron), conducted by Grace Ann Rosile and David M. Boje, taped and transcribed, from, 2.

Savall, H. (Ed.). (2004). Crossing frontiers in quantitative and qualitative research methods: first international co-sponsored conference, Research Methods Division, Academy of Management (USA); March 18-20, 2004, Lyon, France. 1 (2004). ISEOR.

Savall, H., & Zardet, V. (2005). Tétranormalisation: défis et dynamiques (No. halshs-00783085).

Savall, H., & Zardet, V. (Eds.). (2013). The dynamics and challenges of tetranormalization. IAP.

Péron, M., & Savall, H. (2007). Raising the Curtain on Business Operation Theatrics. Revue Sciences de Gestion, (58).

Savall, H., & Zardet, V. (Eds.). (2008). Mastering hidden costs and socioeconomic performance. IAP.

Savall, H., Zardet, V., & Bonnet, M. (2008). Releasing the untapped potential of enterprises through socio-economic management (No. halshs-00780720).

Savall, H., Zardet, V., Bonnet, M., & Péron, M. (2010). contribution of qualimetrics intervention-research methodology to transorganizational development (No. halshs-00749946).

Savall, H., & Zardet, V. (Eds.). (2011). The qualimetrics approach: Observing the complex object. IAP.

Savall, H., Zardet, V., & Péron, M. (2011). 22 The Evolutive and Interactive Actor Polygon in the Theater of Organizations. Storytelling and the future of organizations: An antenarrative handbook, 366.

Savall, H., Zardet, V., Péron, M., & Bonnet, M. (2012). Possible Contributions of Qualimetrics Intervention-Research Methodology to Action Research. International Journal of Action Research, 8(1), 102-130.

Worley, C. G., Zardet, V., Bonnet, M., & Savall, A. (2015). Becoming agile: How the SEAM approach to management builds adaptability. John Wiley & Sons.

Savall, H., Péron, M., & Zardet, V. (2015, September). Human Potential at the Core of Socio-Economic Theory (SEAM). In Decoding the Socio? Economic Approach to Management: Results of the Second SEAM Conference in the United States(p. 1). IAP.
Savall, H., & Zardet, V. (2015). Reflecting on SEAM in the 21st Century. The SocioEconomic Approach to Management Revisited: The Evolving Nature of SEAM in the 21st Century, 1.

Savall, H. (2016). TFW virus concept history. In Decoding the socio-economic approach to management: Results of the second SEAM conference in the United States.

Savall, H., Péron, M., Zardet, V., & Bonnet, M. (2018). Socioeconomic Approach to Management. Socially Responsible Capitalism and Management, 73 (90), 18.

Since Boje (2001) Antenarrative has evolved from 2 B's (before-narrative & bets on the future) to 5 B's.

                types of antenarrative

Antenarrative-storytelling not only allows us to make sense of the past, it perhaps more importantly allows us to draw conclusions about how current actions may create future outcomes. This future-orientation is especially relevant for ethical choices.World
                Wealth in a Margarita Glass - D. M. Boje 2018

Margarita Glass Globalization is rooted in a Naive Ethics of Monopoly Capitalism. We need a Dialogical Answerability ethics because the Naive Instrumental and the Kantian Categorical ethics are leading to 6th Extinction. Virtue Ethics using a True Storytelling Praxis is a way to proceed to a middle path.



It is possible to rein in 6th Extinction form of Globalization with implementation of the 17 UN Sustainability Goals. Here is a True Storytelling Method of implementation

True stroytelling UN project phase 1

What are the True Storytelling Principles?

    1. Truth: You yourself must be true and prepare the energy and effort for a sustainable future
    2. Make room: True storytelling makes spaces respecting the stories already there
    3. Plot: You must create stories with a clear plot creating direction and help people prioritize
    4. Timing: You must have timing
    5. Help stories along: You must be able to help stories on their way and be open to experiment
    6. Staging: You must consider staging including scenography and artifacts
    7. Reflection: You must reflect on the stories and how they create value  

7 Qualities of True Storytelling


Related Presentations

Antenarrative Reading List

Boje, D. M. (2001). Narrative methods for organizational & communication research. Sage.

Boje, D. M. (2008). Storytelling organizations. Sage.

Boje, D. M. (Ed.). (2011). Storytelling and the future of organizations: An antenarrative handbook. Routledge.

Vaara, E., & Tienari, J. (2011). On the narrative construction of multinational corporations: An antenarrative analysis of legitimation and resistance in a cross-border merger. Organization Science, 22(2), 370-390.

Weick, Karl E. "Organized sensemaking: A commentary on processes of interpretive work." Human Relations 65.1 (2012): 141-153.

Rosile, G. A., Boje, D. M., Carlon, D. M., Downs, A., & Saylors, R. (2013). Storytelling diamond: An antenarrative integration of the six facets of storytelling in organization research design. Organizational Research Methods, 16(4), 557-580.

Haley, Usha CV, and David M. Boje. (2014) "Storytelling the internationalization of the multinational enterprise." Journal of International Business Studies 45, no. 9 : 1115-1132.

Boje, D. M., Haley, U. C., & Saylors, R. (2016). Antenarratives of organizational change: The microstoria of Burger King’s storytelling in space, time and strategic context. human relations, 69(2), 391-418.

Boje, D. M., Svane, M., & Gergerich, E. M. (2016). Counternarrative and antenarrative inquiry in two cross-cultural contexts. European Journal of Cross-Cultural Competence and Management, 4(1), 55-84.

Vaara, E., Sonenshein, S., & Boje, D. (2016). Narratives as sources of stability and change in organizations: Approaches and directions for future research. The Academy of Management Annals, 10(1), 495-560.

Stierand, M., Boje, D. M., Glăveanu, V., Dörfler, V., Haley, U. C., & Feuls, M. (2017). Paradoxes of “creativity”: Examining the creative process through an antenarrative lens. The Journal of Creative Behavior.

Riach, K., Rumens, N., & Tyler, M. (2016). Towards a Butlerian methodology: Undoing organizational performativity through anti-narrative research. human relations, 69(11), 2069-2089.

“Butler-inspired notion of ‘anti-narrative’ interviewing, to which we now turn, in order to develop, in a very practical sense, a method of data generation and analysis that would reflect our methodological commitment to a reflexive undoing of organizational performativity”

“Our anti-narrative approach therefore seeks to disrupt the apparent linearity, stability and coherence of organizational performances by ‘undoing’ (Butler, 2004) seemingly coherent subjectivities as a methodologically reflexive move.”


What can we do to make it work? Mother Earth Economy Model is True Storytelling of our Potentiality


IWOK stands for Indigenous Ways of Knowing. Mātauranga Māori means Māori Ways of Knowing (MWOK) the environment. Both are about Webworks of Living Stories that are different from Western narrative research methods that reduce the aliveness of living story to form and linear plot structure. Boje will introduce deep layers of living story research using the Volkswagen Dieselgate scandal and its relation to conflict mineral mining after generations of colonization in Democratic Republic of Congo.

I am increasingly concerned about the current state of Globalization Storytelling in what Zygmunt Bauman calls 'Liquid Modernity.' It is a time when Post-Fordism has merged with the worst of Postmodern hyperreality, in a time of Fake News, Fake Presidents, Fake Corporations where getting to 'true storytelling' methodology is all but impossible. We live in a time when racist rhetoric, ethnic prejudice, and climate denial has become normalized in Western ways of narrative in our academic and political institutions. I think its time to engage in more IWOK and less WWOK of corporate speak, a more critical postmodern paradigm of storytelling.

Kaua e takahia te mana o te tangata Nga Huia Te Awe Kotuku – Don’t trample on the integrity of the people -- cited in Tuhiwai Smith 1999: 120