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Chapter 3. The 10 Functions of Storytell... > 3. Communicate Tradition and Delinea...

3. Communicate Tradition and Delineate Taboo

The need for an easily communicated, commonly accepted vehicle to explain social relationships and proper behavior has been present since the first group of cavemen warily decided to share a fire. They appear over and over again, from stories told in the Middle East to justify the Hebrew, and later Muslim, ban on eating pork to the early days of Silicon Valley, where they were used to describe the ostensibly de-hierarchalized Information Age workplace. It is why an extra plate is set at Passover ceremonies and why, at one time, all IBMers appeared to dress in the same uniform, built around a crisply pressed white shirt.

Establishing corporate traditions and delineating taboo behaviors are obvious tools for reinforcing group identity. For years, Ukrop's supermarkets in the Tidewater area of Northern Virginia have not sold beer—proving they are part of the community by embracing some community members' taboos against drinking. The no-beer policy links the stories of the supermarket company and the community it serves.


  

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