An Alternative Banking Inquiry: A Grand Narrative of Organisation Culture and Change from 1960 to 2000

Research output: Types of ThesisDoctoral Thesis


The point of departure for this inductive study is to explore the often unseen side of banking organisations by drawing on the lived experiences of bank workers. The research is driven by recent public and political discourse that appears to contain little in-depth knowledge of the inherent culture of banking organisations and the changes they have gone through since 1960. This leads to concerns and queries regarding what is known about the culture of the whole organisation, what changes it has gone through and the social relations that exist between workers in banks. The research is approached from a phenomenological ontology and an epistemology of social constructionism, which aims to give an uninterrupted voice to the workers understanding of their working life experiences. Often workers are considered passive entities in organisation change, a claim that this method of research shows to be untrue. Through organisation storytelling the workers narrate their experiences of working in a major Irish bank (the Bank) between 1960 and 2000. Their experiences provide a unique perspective of their culture and the changing organisation which they embraced and helped shape. The stories are analysed in the form of a grand narrative that reveals much about culture and change in the Bank over forty years. The grand narrative is explored through theories and concepts related to work, identity, social relations and modernity. Commencing with the initial break with past traditions the research continues by exploring and describing how the changes affected working life. Nostalgic reflections conclude the grand narrative and provide scope to discuss the meanings attributed by the workers to the transformation of the Bank. The research contributes to theories of organisation culture by presenting it as reflexive of happenings in the external and internal environment of the bank. Although considered as important in the development of organisational culture models, the use of the models often play-down the importance of reflexivity in the creation, change and maintenance of culture in an organisation. In terms of organisation change the research contributes by providing an emerging ‘model of discovery’, that could potentially feed into much needed new perceptions of organisation change in the contemporary environment. The contribution to change comments on the lack of agency that managers have in controlling change and finding and ‘end’ once it has been unleashed. In a contribution to practice, the research notes that banks should consider becoming less reactive to external influences and to provide a strong ethos and boundary for worker identity.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Griffin, Ray, Supervisor
  • Byrne, Sean, Supervisor
Publication statusUnpublished - 2016


  • Banking


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