Colloquially, myth denotes a widely held belief that is fictional or erroneous. Its anthropological usage, however, does not carry the same pejorative charge: myths are simply conceptual schemata, embodying core metaphysical concepts and moral wisdom. It is in this latter sense that I dub alignment as a myth; not to question its factuality (a nonsensical property in the case of a belief) but to highlight and interrogate the cultural work that it does (Stillman, 1985). Barthes (1973) defines myth as a type of speech, a “second order semiological system” of signs drawn from the medium of language in which their original meanings are modified to suit the myth-building role. Any elementary linguistic object (the definition is broad, encompassing visual imagery as well as language) can be symbolically coopted as raw material by the mythical system. Barthes uses a cover page of Paris Match depicting a French negro soldier saluting the tricolour as an exemplar. Beyond the naive meaning, the second-order mythical signification is easily read: “France is a great Empire, that all her sons, without colour discrimination, faithfully serve under her flag...” (Barthes 1973, p. 116). Other symbols conveying the same underlying idea may readily be imagined. Through a matrix of such varied forms, the myth of French colonialism as a beneficent force is constituted.


Fairy Tale Cultural Work Balance Scorecard French Colonialism Strategic Alignment 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


  1. Ackroyd, S., and Thompson, P. Organizational Misbehaviour, London: SAGE Publicatoins, 2003.Google Scholar
  2. Barthes, R. Mythologies, St. Albans, UK: Paladin, 1973.Google Scholar
  3. Blake, L. A. “Pastoral Power, Governmentality and Cultures of Order in Nineteenth Century British Columbia,” Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers (24), 1999, pp. 79–93.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Ciborra, C. The Labyrinths of Information: Challenging the Wisdom of Systems, Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2003.Google Scholar
  5. Gertz, N. “Social Myths in Literary and Political Texts,” Poetics Today (7:4), 1986, pp. 621–639.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Henderson, J. C., and Venkatraman, N. “Strategic Alignment: Leveraging Information Technology for Transforming Organizations,” IBM Systems Journal (32:1), 1993, pp. 4–16.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Kaplan, R. S., and Norton, D. P. Alignment: Using the Balanced Scorecard to Create Corporate Synergies, Cambridge, MA: Harvard Business School Press, 2006.Google Scholar
  8. Luftman, J. “Key Issues for IT Executives 2004,” MISQ Executive (4:2), 2004, pp. 269–285.Google Scholar
  9. McMaster, T., and Wastell, D. “Diffusion or Delusion? Challenging an IS Research Tradition,” Information Technology and People (18), 2005, pp. 383–404.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Monin, N., and Monin, J. “Hi-Jacking the Fairy Tale: Genre Blurring and Allegorical Breaching in Management Literature,” Organization (12:4), 2005, pp. 511–528.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Parsons, T. “Suggestions for a Sociological Approach to the Theory of Organizations,” Administrative Science Quarterly (1), 1956, pp. 63–85.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Stillman, R. “The Politics of Sidney’s Pastoral: Mystification and Mythology in the Old Arcadia,” English Literary History (52:4), 1985, pp. 795–814.Google Scholar
  13. Wastell, D. G., McMaster, T., and Kawalek, P. “The Rise of the Phoenix: Methodological Innovation as a Discourse of Renewal,” Journal of Information Technology (22:1), 2007, pp. 59–68.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© International Federation for Information Processing 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • David Wastell
    • 1
  1. 1.Nottingham University Business SchoolNottinghamUK

Personalised recommendations