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Common Reading 2019: Philipp Schönthaler

"At the Heart of Storytelling"

"For Benjamin, information and narrative are irreconcilable; information goes hand-in-hand with a desire for factuality and verifiability, driving out the spirit of narrative, with its claim to truth based in lifeworld experience."

—Philipp Schönthaler

Philipp Schönthaler

Philipp Schönthaler is the author of the short story collection Nach oben ist das Leben offen ("Above, Life Is Open"), which won the prestigious Clemens Brentano Prize in 2012. Since then, Schönthaler has published two more short story collections, a novel, and two books of cultural history, including the one from which "At the Heart of Storytelling" is taken (its English title is Portrait of the Manager as a Young Author). The German edition won the Stuttgart Business Club Prize in 2016.


Richard Orwig is the Associate Professor of Management and the Interim Department Head of Management at Susquehanna University. He has been published in many research journals including Information Systems Educators Journal and Journal of the American Society for Information Science and also served four years in the Navy. He worked as a software engineer for thirteen years; and he has taught at the University of Arizona, Washington State University for seven years, and here at Susquehanna University for fifteen years. 


Introduction by Richard Orwig

Discussion Questions

1. What is the difference between management and narrative?

2. What are some benefits for storytelling in the business industry?

Additional Resources


1. Have students research successful companies (the ones listed in the text or others that students can think of) and the ways that they have used narrative and management. 


2. Have students make a business pitch for a company or product (real or made up) that they are trying to promote. They should consider what narrative lens they are using to promote their pitch to the audience.