The strategic use of historical narratives: a theoretical framework

History has long been recognised as a strategic and organisational resource. However, until recently, the advantage conferred by history was attributed to a firm’s ability to accumulate heterogeneous resources or develop opaque practices. In contrast, we argue that the advantage history confers on organisations is based on understanding when the knowledge of the past is referenced and the reasons why it is strategically communicated. We argue that managers package this knowledge in historical narratives to address particular organisational concerns and audiences. As well, we show that different historical narratives are produced with the goal of achieving different organisational outcomes. The success of an organisation is thus dependent on the ability of its managers to skilfully develop historical narratives that create a strategic advantage.