ArticlePDF Available

Let's change the subject and change our organization: An appreciative inquiry approach to organization change

  • Taos Institute


Takes a social constructionist view of organizational change focusing on how to engage the multitude of internal and external stakeholders. Argues that current models of change often leave people feeling demoralized and presents appreciative inquiry (AI) as an aproach to organization development that deliberately focuses attention on learning and dialogue about what gives life to an organization. Explains AI principles and the 4-D model for positive change. Provides some examples of this.
[ 314 ]
Career Development
3/7 [1998] 314–319
© MCB University Press
[ISSN 1362-0436]
Let’s change the subject and change our
organization: an appreciative inquiry approach to
organization change
Diana Whitney
Whitney Consulting, Taos, New Mexico, USA
Takes a social constructionist
view of organizational change
focusing on how to engage
the multitude of internal and
external stakeholders. Argues
that current models of
change often leave people
feeling demoralized and
presents appreciative inquiry
(AI) as an aproach to organi-
zation development that
deliberately focuses attention
on learning and dialogue
about what gives life to an
organization. Explains AI
principles and the 4-D model
for positive change. Provides
some examples of this.
Organizational identities are embedded and
emergent in conversation. Project planning
discussions, strategic planning meetings,
selection interviews, performance reviews
and staff meetings are all conversations
through which the identities of an organiza-
tion, its products and services and its mem-
bers are crafted. The efforts of change agents
toward development – personal and organiza-
tional – can best be understood as interven-
tions into the conversational processes and
relational realities of the organization.
The language of organization development
in the 1990s is saturated with relationally
embedded words such as participation,
involvement, empowerment, diversity and
membership. It is readily recognized by orga-
nization development professionals that the
greater the involvement of people in the
process, the greater their commitment to
change. That is, the more involvement people
have in crafting change – personal and orga-
nizational – the more likely they are to carry
it through to fruition.
From a social constructionist point of view,
that posits knowledge, meaning and identity
as socially generated, conscious involvement
is an imperative. A constructionist view
holds involvement and participation as
givens. Organization stakeholders do partici-
pate, they are involved. The nature and qual-
ity of participation may not be as we would
want it. It may not provide the results
desired. It does, however, define the organiza-
tion. To change an organization is to change
the nature and quality of participation and
interaction among the many organization
stakeholders. It is to change who talks to
whom about what. When this occurs cus-
tomers and vendors become a part of the
whole organization, rather than outsiders.
Employees and managers have equality of
voice, rather than hierarchically defined
voice. Stories of success in one part of the
organization are spread across the organiza-
tion and become new standards of practice.
Mutually valued processes, products, ser-
vices and results emerge.
The question facing change agents, consul-
tants, human resource practitioners and
managers, is not whether to involve organiza-
tion members and stakeholders in change but
rather how to engage the multitude of inter-
nal and external stakeholders, all speaking
different languages, in large scale efforts
toward organizational change.
Total quality efforts, employee involvement
teams and participatory management prac-
tices have been a step in the right direction.
They have set the stage for an active, involved
workforce. They have surfaced people’s desire
to contribute. And they have shown their own
limits. First, they are representative rather
than fostering full voice and expression
among all stakeholders. Founded on small
group theory that suggests the optimal size
group is five to seven people, current efforts
to engage the workforce involve some of the
people, some of the time. In order to success-
fully reinvent an organization, all of the inter-
ested parties must be involved throughout the
process. As the newsletter of an international
window fashions company declares, “All
voices, all opinions, all ideas”.
Second, most of our current development
models – personal and organizational – are
deficit based. They engage organization mem-
bers in a study of what is unsuitable, not
working, not up to standard, and in need of a
“fix”. Problem-solving approaches to change
management leave people feeling demoral-
ized and hopeless about their future and the
future of their organization. Successful devel-
opment efforts depend on forms of involve-
ment and participation that invite the best of
people and their ideas to surface and to be put
into practice. Successful change emerges
when curiosity, creativity and inspiration are
Appreciative inquiry
Companies around the world are engaged in
bold experiments with an innovative process
of organization development called apprecia-
tive inquiry (AI). Developed by Dr David
Cooperrider and colleagues at Case Western
Reserve University and The Taos Institute, AI
is based on the principle that organizations
change in the direction of what they study.
Inquiry – whether it is an organization sur-
vey, a question posed by a manager at the
start of a meeting, or the study used to
[ 315 ]
Diana Whitney
Let’s change the subject and
change our organization: an
appreciative inquiry approach
to organization change
Career Development
3/7 [1998] 314–319
redesign a work process – is fateful. It plants
the seeds of the future.
Consider, for example, two ways you as a
manager might welcome new employees. If
you ask that they tell you of difficulties they
encounter as they get acquainted with their
new colleagues and new job, you are, no
matter how well intended, planting seeds of
difficulties; and you will most certainly hear
about them. If on the other hand, you
request that they seek to discover what con-
tributes to their new work group’s high levels
of cooperation and success, you are planting
seeds of learning about cooperation and team
success. On a daily basis the agenda for orga-
nizational performance, learning and change
is established through inquiry and dialogue.
AI deliberately focuses the attention, dia-
logue and learning of an organization’s mem-
bers and stakeholders on what gives life to the
organization and its people when they are at
its best. By assuming the best of people, orga-
nizations and relationships, AI leaves deficit-
oriented approaches behind and offers affir-
mative processes for organization develop-
Appreciative inquiry principles
AI, as an organization development interven-
tion, reflects a set of principles drawn from
current theory and research in the human
and social sciences (Srivastva and Cooper-
rider, 1990). It recognizes the essential con-
nectedness of all life and provides opportuni-
ties for the creation of relationally generated
meaning and organizational practice.
The constructionist principle
Organizations are invented, enacted and
maintained through processes of social inter-
action, and as a result are changed in the
same manner. The constructionist principle
places emphasis on language and relational
processes for establishing meaning, identity
and order. In Realities and Relationships,
Gergen describes the foundation for the con-
structionist principle in AI,
For constructionists, descriptions and
explanations are neither driven by the world
as it is, nor are they the inexorable
outcomes of genetic or structural propensi-
tites within the individual. Rather they are
the result of human coordination of action.
Words take on their meaning only within
the context of ongoing relationships.
Language and relationships are our primary
vehicles for constructing organizations,
communities and our world. Language, com-
munication and relationships are tools for
creating realities, meaning and social order.
Organizations are social constructions –
repetitive patterns of communication and
story telling.
The poetic principle
As conversational realities, organizations
move in the direction of what is studied and
talked about. Modern management and espe-
cially total quality management has us study-
ing problems and their multiple causes. In
doing so we give life to the repetitive cycle of
problem solving and to deficit views of orga-
nizational life. Problem solving, cynicism,
and deficit thinking have become manage-
ment habits. AI provides an alternative in
that it invites us to organize around what
gives hope and joy rather than what creates
fear and control. Organizations are guided by
socially created and ever changing practices,
not by unchangeable iron laws.
The dominant metaphor for organizations
in a constructionist sense is that they are like
a good book, there to be read and reread,
interpreted and reinterpreted. Just as a book
takes on its meaning in the act of reading, so
does the organization take on its meaning in
the act of telling its stories. Organizational
stories are the habit patterns of the organiza-
tion. They tell organization members what
they must do and be in order to fit in and be
successful in the organization. If we hear
stories of distrust and turfism, then we will
certainly find and possibly create our own
cases of distrust and turfism. If, on the other
hand, we hear stories about respect and col-
laboration across functional lines of business,
then we learn that respect and collaboration
are the workplace norms. AI assumes that as
an organization’s dominant stories change
and evolve, so does the organization.
The anticipatory principle
Images held in stories, metaphors, pictures
and artifacts guide organization action. The
stories told about an organization’s future are
the best determinants of its future. Images,
whether explicitly described or implicitly
carried by organization stakeholders, com-
mand great power over the future. Eisler in
The Chalice and the Blade, speaks about the
role of imagery in making manifest the mate-
rial world,
Although we don’t usually think of them
this way, most social realities – schools,
hospitals, stock exchanges, political parties,
churches – are actualizations of ideas that
once existed only in the minds of a few
women and men. This is also true of the
abolition of slavery, the replacement of
monarchies with republics, and all the
other progress we have made in the last few
hundred years. Even physical realities –
tables, books, pots, airplanes, violins – are
[ 316 ]
Diana Whitney
Let’s change the subject and
change our organization: an
appreciative inquiry approach
to organization change
Career Development
3/7 [1998] 314–319
actualizations of human ideas. But for new
ideas to be translated into new realities
requires not only clarity of vision but also
the opportunity to change old realities.
At any point in time the organization’s future
potential can be known through the stories
told about it by stakeholders. In thriving orga-
nizations the frequency of positive, hopeful
stories is greater than the frequency of nega-
tive, cynical stories. What we anticipate is
what we enact and give life to as organization
reality. For example, when a dominant organi-
zation story is one of poor management credi-
bility it is very difficult for managers to enact
credibility. People will seek actions that sup-
port the story of poor management credibility.
The image of poor management credibility
guides organization behavior until a more
positive and compelling life force is invited to
come forth. In the same way, when a dominant
organization story is about extraordinary
customer service, as it was in the early days of
Federal Express, customer service guides
interactions throughout the organization as
well as with customers.
The simultaneity principle
Organization development has historically
been thought of as a long-term process involv-
ing step by step diagnosis, feedback, action
planning and implementation. AI assumes,
invites and evokes the simultaneity of learn-
ing and change. When organized around
topics of sincere interest and curiosity, AI
evokes learning and change, through inter-
views and dialogues, aimed at organizational
discovery, dream, design and destiny.
Modern management has given life to orga-
nizations as structures and systems. Modern
management practices tend to be linear and
sequential as in the plan-do-check-act
sequence for quality improvement which
conceptualizes change as the result of a series
of actions occurring over a long period of
time. In contrast, from a postmodern perspec-
tive, change is an ever-present organization
reality. It does not need to be created, but
merely evoked and brought forth. Patterns of
thinking and repetitively enacted organiza-
tion habits shift simultaneously when organi-
zation stakeholders engage in AI.
Rather than being the cause of organization
change, AI is the vehicle for change to
emerge. As a high-involvement process, it
leads simultaneously to the reconfiguration
of organizational meaning and relationships.
It shifts the network of who talks to whom
about what. The careful selection of topics for
the AI process alters the organization agenda
and enables more positive patterns of think-
ing and performance to emerge.
The positive principle
Organizations can grow, develop and evolve
by focusing on what gives life. The positive
principle suggests that we can create success-
ful and sustainable organizations by attend-
ing to the affirmative, the positively com-
pelling and that which stirs positive human
sentiments. It directs us to focus on what we
value and hope for, as well as what brings joy
and wonder to organization life. Jung’s writ-
ing suggests the possibility for growth stem-
ming from a change of focus,
I have often seen individuals simply out-
grow a problem which had destroyed others.
This outgrowing was seen to consist in a
new level of consciousness. Some higher or
wider interest arose on the person’s horizon,
and through this widening of his view the
insoluble problem lost its urgency. It was not
solved logically in its own terms, but faded
out when confronted with a new and.
stronger life tendency.
Under all the skepticism, cynicism and pes-
simism in today’s organizations are hopes
and dreams of a better world. It is possible
and certainly more inspiring and enriching
to discuss and to organize for hopes and
dreams than to discuss and organize to over-
come problems. Positive possibilities compel
action freely given, while problems often
require fear as a motivational force.
Change efforts afford the opportunity to
evoke a wide range of human sentiments and
actions. They open a window of time and
space that is generative of new possibilities.
What gets invited through inquiry and dia-
logue forms the basis of the new organiza-
tion. Discussions of change as a flood of prob-
lems to overcome will indeed flood an organi-
zation with problems. Discussions of change
as an organizational act of creativity, in
response to market and global demands, pro-
vides a forum for creating a new organization
interested and able to meet market and global
The positive principle presents organiza-
tion stakeholders with an ethical imperative
– realizing that words create worlds – to
choose carefully what is studied and
discussed in the process of constructing the
new organization.
The appreciative inquiry 4-D
The 4-D model of AI is a process for positive
change. Based on the assumption the change
occurs through thoughtful inquiry and dia-
logue into affirmative life giving forces, the
four phases of the process are: discovery,
dream, design and delivery.
[ 317 ]
Diana Whitney
Let’s change the subject and
change our organization: an
appreciative inquiry approach
to organization change
Career Development
3/7 [1998] 314–319
Discovery – appreciating what gives life
The discovery phase is a quest to identify
positive stories and spread them throughout
an organization. It brings into focus what
gives life and energy to people, their work and
their organization. It is based on the assump-
tion that life-giving forces are indeed present
in every situation, but our habits of organiz-
ing and talking often overlook the positive in
favor of analyzing obstacles, resistances and
deficits. The discovery phase shifts the bal-
ance of organizational attention from what is
not working to what is working and what may
possibly work in the future.
An all-too-common myth is that we learn
from our mistakes. Actually, all we can learn
from mistakes is what not to do again. Posi-
tive learning and innovation comes from
studying, adapting and replicating what
works. An ancient Taoist adage suggests, “if
you respect and admire a quality in another,
make it your own”. The discovery phase is a
quest to fill the organization’s conversations
with talk of positive possibilities.
The starting point of any AI is the selection
of affirmative topics. As organizations move
in the direction of what they study the
choice of topics to study is significant and
Topics are stated in the affirmative and
must be something the organization wants to
learn about and enhance in their way of
doing business. For example, a recent client
raised concerns over turnover and wanted to
use it as an inquiry topic. When I reminded
them that topic choice is like planting seeds
and asked if they really wanted more
turnover, they quickly chose retention as one
of their affirmative topics.
At the heart of AI is the appreciative inter-
view: generally done as a mutual interview
among organization members, it may also be
conducted as a focus group process. Affirma-
tive topics are turned into interview ques-
tions and an interview guide is created which
explores a person’s beginnings with the orga-
nization, what they most value about them-
selves, their work and the organization, their
appreciative stories related to the topics and
their hopes and dreams for the organization.
Discovery involves the mass mobilization of
interviews. Ideally, all members of an organi-
zation will be interviewed.
Dream – envisioning what might be
The dream phase is a time for groups of peo-
ple to engage in thinking big, thinking out of
the box, and thinking out of the boundaries of
what has been in the past. It is a time for
people to describe their wishes and dreams
for their work, their working relationships
and their organization.
The dream phase of the 4-D process encour-
ages participants to consider what it is that
their organization, whether a department,
business unit or entire company, is being
called to do. This phase connects the work of
all the members of the organization to a
greater purpose. The dream phase takes place
in a large group meeting during which the
data and stories collected in the discovery
phase are shared. Wishes and dreams for the
future of the organization are often acted out
to further dramatize the positive possibilities
envisioned for the organization.
Design – determining what will be
AI is a high-involvement process. The design
phase provides an opportunity for large num-
bers of employees and stakeholders to come
together to co-create their organization.
While the discovery and dream phases may
be described as generating and expanding the
organization’s images of itself, the design and
delivery phases are about making choices for
the organization and its members. In the
design phase, organization members and
stakeholders including customers and ven-
dors participate in crafting what are called
“provocative propositions” or design state-
Appreciative organization design is
grounded in the data and stories collected
during the discovery process. While the
dream process encourages possibility think-
ing, the design process focuses on actionable
possibilities. Provocative propositions, how-
ever, are intended to stretch the organization
as it moves to realize them.
Successful organizations navigate the
white waters of change in ways that maintain
the positive image of the company in the
stories of employees and stakeholders. Partic-
ipation in the design process enables organi-
zation members to reorient and realign them-
selves quickly to the changing organization
and business environment.
Delivery – planning what will be
Change occurs in all phases of the AI as it
provides an open forum for employees to
contribute and to step forward in the service
of the organization. The delivery process
specifically focuses on action planning at
both the personal and organizational levels.
During delivery sessions commitments are
made to ensure the realization of the provoca-
tive propositions. Individuals commit to
applications and action plans, small groups
work on areas of collaborative effort and
teams may be established for new initiatives.
Alignment on actions to be taken is high as
a result of the extensive involvement of large
numbers of people in the discovery, dream
[ 318 ]
Diana Whitney
Let’s change the subject and
change our organization: an
appreciative inquiry approach
to organization change
Career Development
3/7 [1998] 314–319
and design processes. It is through the mass
mobilization of interviews and large group
meetings that the “sense of the renewed orga-
nization” emerges.
AI is a grounded process for organization
development and thus the 4-D model
takes shape differently in different organiza-
tions and contexts. The process may take
place in one meeting, as was the case of a
Brazilian food processing company that
closed the plant for five days and invited 700
employees, customers and vendors to partici-
pate in redesigning the organization. The
process may also take place over months,
with each step involving progressively more
people until the entire organization is
Imagine an organization whose 850 employ-
ees interview one another to discover
stories of their company at its best and
how they contribute to it. Imagine an organi-
zation where 250 labor union leaders and
managers meet to discover the possibilities
for partnership that will benefit the company,
the unions and their respective members
and stakeholders. Imagine an organization
that brings hundreds of people together on
line to share positive life affirming stories,
and then to discuss and create global policies
and practices. Imagine an organization
where 1,500 people are interviewed and 500
come together to envision and design their
company’s future. AI engages the whole orga-
nization in discovering the best of what has
been and dreaming about the best of what
might be.
Powerful applications of
appreciative inquiry
The applications of AI are varied, ranging
from global organizing, corporate culture
change, team building and leadership devel-
opment to selection interviewing and perfor-
mance management. While organizations
benefit when using AI as a vehicle for organi-
zation change, comments from participants
engaged in AI processes frequently comment
on its tremendous personal application and
Organization culture change
The largest division of an international com-
pany used AI to engage 850 employees and
some customers, vendors and community
members in their Focus 2,000 process for
organization culture change. Owing to the
tremendous impact on both morale and com-
pany finances, the 4-D process is now being
used for strategic planning on an annual
At GTE, AI has been used as the central
process for culture change, resulting in the
receipt of the American Society for Training
and Development Annual Culture Change
Community transformation
A community development process called
Imagine Chicago is using AI as their vehicle
for the transformation of the city of Chicago.
They are conducting one million interviews
within the city – one for every household.
After two years, results are apparent in the
educational system, the relationships among
city groups, government and business. Cur-
rently AI is being designed into the educa-
tional curriculum throughout the city. Simi-
lar projects have occurred or are under way
in cities, states and countries around the
world, including Imagine South Carolina, and
Imagine Western Austraila.
Organizational renewal
A major health care cooperative applied
AI to engage 1,500 people – staff, nurses, doc-
tors, administrators and patients – in the
creation of a renewal process. Interviews
were conducted among 1,500 people; and 500
attended the Summit during which they envi-
sioned, designed and committed to the orga-
nization’s future. As a result, collaboration is
at an all time high, there is a renewed sense of
hope among employees and a steadily improv-
ing financial outlook for the organization.
Organization excellence
Corporations are using AI for enhancing
organizational excellence in business units,
departments and work groups. Teams
selected from various business units choose
their own topics, develop interview guides
and conduct interviews within their own
organizations. They then attend an Apprecia-
tive Learning Summit along with eight to ten
other teams. During the summit teams share
learnings with one another, and design and
plan change within their own organization.
The cross-functional learning is extraordi-
Customer surveys
Companies are changing their survey strate-
gies to include studies of their best customers
and what satisfies them. As findings are col-
lected and shared throughout the organiza-
tion, significant increases in customer satis-
faction and employee satisfaction occur.
Employee morale increases as employees
hear stories of satisfied customers. Stories
from satisfied customers provide great
insight into how to improve customer rela-
tions company-wide.
[ 319 ]
Diana Whitney
Let’s change the subject and
change our organization: an
appreciative inquiry approach
to organization change
Career Development
3/7 [1998] 314–319
Mergers and acquisitions
A major accounting firm used AI to manage
successfully the integration of several acqui-
sitions over a short period of time. The new
company was designed during an Apprecia-
tive Summit based on interviews thoughout
the merging business. At all levels of the
organization, managers and employees from
merging companies interviewed one another
to discover the strengths of the partnership.
Newly created business units and work teams
used AI to discover their own hopes and
expectations and to enhance relationships
with customers and vendors. The affirmative
involvement of hundreds of people
contributed to the successful integration –
both financially and culturally.
Employee relations and HR management
Companies are using AI for performance
planning and appraisal, 360º feedback, selec-
tion interviewing and employee relations.
When people are given opportunities to hear
how they are valued and contributing to their
work group and the organization, they feel
better about themselves, their work and as a
result want to do more. Mike Burns, vice-
president, HR, Hunter Douglas Inc. offered
the following thoughts on AI:
For years, I have used the analogy of the
“cup being half full rather than half empty”
when helping folks look at the positive side
of issues rather than the negative. When
individuals (or groups) see things from the
perspective of the “best that has been” and
the “best of what is” and they frame their
future vision into the “best of what could
be”, the transition is magical. The whole
perspective becomes positive, the energy
level increases and the cup goes from half
empty to half full. For example, in the
employment interview process (frequently a
stressful situation for an applicant), I have
found it helpful to ask about a peak profes-
sional experience from their past. This
provides the applicant a chance to remem-
ber a very positive situation and to tell me
about it. This gives me a great deal of insight
into the candidate and helps set a positive
tone for the interview.
Organizations can no longer afford to operate
as if the needs of the business and the needs
of the people doing business are at odds. They
must begin to operate with the realization
that people – employees, customers, and ven-
dors – are not only the greatest resource for
creating the organization’s future, but they
are the only resource. Human resource pro-
fessionals, along with organizational leader-
ship must look beyond the organizing princi-
ples, processes and change management
practices of yesterday. They must seek out
innovative processes that collectively and
positively involve people in the design of their
own future at work – AI.
... Discovery, Dream, Design, and Destiny). All the five principles (Whitney, 1998) of AI were accounted for during the inquiry. ...
Relational Capital (RC) is referred as intangible asset that an organization acquires while sustaining effective relations with suppliers, customers or business partners. Prior research suggests that enhanced RC could significantly improve organizational performance. Therefore, for accentuating the role of RC in a manufacturing concern, an organizational development intervention called Appreciative Inquiry (AI) was conducted in this study. The primary objective of this action-oriented study was to develop relational capital, which was identified by respondents as one of their strengths, through the application of appreciative inquiry. The study was carried out by involving 26 participants from procurement and sales departments in 4-D cycle of AI. Post-intervention survey revealed improved RC and more friendly exchanges among stakeholders. Findings of this study would be useful to inform practitioners about the effectiveness of AI and would set new directions for appreciating the strengths of employees and other stakeholders.
... Parents identified if any experiences or attributes were missing from the analysis and highlighted the most important aspects of parent experience. Secondly, an appreciative inquiry approach was used to co-construct how the positive elements of the existing structure of service provision could be built on to more comprehensively meet the needs of infants and their families (Whitney 1998). Finally, the discussion facilitated the parents to rationalise these brainstormed ideas and prioritise them into a set of specific recommendations for the service. ...
Full-text available
Background: This paper builds upon previously published findings of early intervention multidisciplinary therapy (occupational, physiotherapy and speech and language therapy) research, surrounding experiences of families of infants with emerging complex neurodevelopmental difficulties (Gibbs, Harniess et al. 2019). The aim of this two-phased project, funded by an APCP research bursary, was to use parental experiences of accessing early therapy services throughout neonatal admission, transition to home, and ongoing community services, and apply findings to implement service co-design through participatory methods. Here we present phase two findings and the outputs (including evaluation) of this research.
... Although prescribed for large scale organization change efforts, Appreciative Inquiry may also be effective for stimulating subsystem improvements (Bushe, 1999). The four-step A.I. model outlined by Whitney (1998) facilitated the study. This includes a discovery phase, dream phase, design phase, and delivery phase. ...
Full-text available
As an essential organizational process, performance appraisal effectiveness remains an unrealized hope. The research question addressed here is can Appreciative Inquiry (Cooperrider and Whitney, 2000) alter an organization’s performance appraisal narrative? This qualitative field study offers an innovative enhancement to Murphy and Cleveland’s (1995) performance appraisal communication model by incorporating Appreciative Inquiry as a meta-narrative transformative intervention. Results showed that organization members interpret individual performance appraisal experiences in light of the organization’s overall performance meta-narrative. Further, employee interpretations can be positively influenced when they are encouraged to adopt an affirming and hopeful lens that honors performance appraisal’s cultural inheritance. The outcomes are attributed to a few organization members dreaming of the process at its best based on previous positive experiences and then expressing their vision in wider and wider circles of sharing. Although based on a small, convenience sample, this intervention also indicated Appreciative Inquiry may offer unique and helpful advantages in performance appraisal research.
... The focus of the constructionist principle is language and relations that enable the development of meaning and identity. Whitney(1998) stated that organizations find meaning in the stories employees share and the patterns of communication they have with each other. Leaders increase their effectiveness by becoming skilled in understanding and analyzing organizations as living entities created by social interactions (Fitzgerald, Murrel, Miller, 2003). ...
... This idea produces modifications concerning the management process, even a reversal of the "organisational pyramid" (Cojocaru, 2010). Some authors (Gergen, 1985;Cooperrider & Srivastva, 1987;------Whitney, 1998;Elliott, 1999;Bushe, 2001;Van Der Haar, 2002;Bushe, 2010) consider that language and words are social artefacts and not only a mirror of reality. Words represent "a convention people establish in order to understand each other (Vad Der Haar, 2002: 25) and these conventions construct the social reality. ...
Full-text available
The article explores the ways in which language is a factor in the generation of social realities. Having as a foundation social constructionism, the appreciative inquiry is a form of intervention in the organisational environment that can produce a rapid change in the way an organisation's members define the organisation they work in. Thus, the theory of social constructionism seems to be operational in the organisational space, as it focuses on the relations through which social actors construct realities. The approach of social constructionism starts from the assumption that the language people use in order to understand the world is a social artefact, the historical product of exchanges between people. During the meetings with representatives of governmental and nongovernmental organisations involved in the experiment, we recorded the adjectives and the metaphors they used in order to describe the organisational environment they worked in. The experiment proves the fact that the negative definitions given to the organisations in which the participants were operating could be transformed into positive or neutral definitions through an appreciative approach. As a rule, people use negative terms in order to describe the organisations they work in; however, an appreciative intervention can cause a rapid change in their language, which generates in its turn new organisational realities. The results obtained during research provide the opportunity to rethink the organisational environment through the filter of ideologies negotiated and constructed through dialogue and to use an appreciative approach in order to change them.
... As social constructionists, we operated on the premise that human beings construct reality through interactions with each other as they make sense of the context where they live and work (Crotty, 2003). Social constructionism is an empowering epistemology since it embraces self-determinism in a collective and collaborative environment (Gergen, 1985;Whitney, 1998). AI's application of guided, semi-structured conversations, through established protocols provides a context where participants eagerly participate in the construction of new realities (Rickets & Willis, 2004). ...
Full-text available
The purpose of this study was to use an appreciative inquiry (AI) theoretical research perspective and change methodology to transform the working relationships and cultural expectations of members through the discovery of their positive core leading to an optimistic and confidence-based future for an urban drug court. This study describes how participants through their participation in the first two stages of an AI 4-D cycle (Discovery and Dream) transformed their working relationships and organizational culture. Participants included an urban drug court magistrate, manager, and purposively selected staff [15 participants]. The urban drug court is designed as a last chance opportunity for substance abusers. As a result of participation in the appreciative inquiry process, participants (a) discovered a resiliency and willingness to overcome challenges, (b) reaffirmed a sense of purpose in their work and (c), discovered a positive core of successful experience. Our study demonstrates the creative possibilities when applying AI to groups mired in deficit thinking. In doing so, we advanced the research in AI, positive organizational psychology, and learned optimism. © 2013: Raymond Calabrese, Erik Cohen, and Nova Southeastern University.
This chapter introduces the often-neglected resource within an organisation, a resource that is attracting attention due to the growing body of evidence confirming its effectiveness—this resource is relational energy. Clarke outlines using emerging knowledge, the linkage between positivity and relational energy. If we can promote and make best of this resource, staff wellbeing, happiness and ability to deliver great service to each other and all in the campus community amplifies. Clarke presents the case for positive organisational learning and strength-based approaches, such as appreciative inquiry, virtuosity and abundance, through case study and through presentation of a growing, yet niche, body of research. Clarke provides the argument for developing a framework of positivity and relational energy, based on the principles of humanisation. The chapter ends with a call to action to university leaders to take our rightful place as the anchors of society, enriching the world and fully embedding humanising into all that we do.
Full-text available
Positivity in organizations accentuates that which is flourishing and life-giving to discover and promote the best of the human condition, exemplified in the recent focus on positive practices, behaviors that enhance positive affect in employees and lead to organizational performance. A quantitative study of positivity in a team-based food service context elucidated significant relationships between positive practices, social climate, work engagement, and task performance. Finer delineation of positive practices demonstrated the importance of team members discovering meaning in their work through mutual interaction that promotes trust, respect, and confidence, with employees believing the best in one another and inspiring one another in their performance. The findings suggest that in an intensive service climate positivity can foster team member engagement and performance through prosocial actions that demonstrate appreciation, affirmation, and respect, thus promoting greater meaningfulness in work.
Purpose Existing methods of enhancing-based public speaking efficacy are based on the deficit-based model. On the other hand, public speaking is an ability that has a potential to produce anxiety, fear of negative evaluation. The purpose of this paper was to explore the use of strength-based learning pedagogy, i.e. appreciative inquiry to work upon enhancing public speaking skills of engineers. Design/methodology/approach An appreciative inquiry was conducted on 15 engineers using 4D model. The data were gathered using narrative analysis and grounded theory. Findings Participants shared their stories of past, present and future to derive meaningful insights that have potential to bring development. Research limitations/implications The study has an underpinning in Deci and Ryan’s self-determination theory. As practitioners of self-determination theory open the positive space for individuals to learn, appreciative inquiry aids in opening such positive space so that learners can experiment openly without any fear of negative evaluation. It prepares them by enhancing intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. Practical implications The study motivated engineers to focus on effortless delivery of their speeches and eliminate other associated fear. The study can be used as a classroom pedagogy. Social implications As public speaking is associated with fear of negative evaluation and anxiety, it has a potential to affect self-confidence and self-image adversely. As appreciative inquiry fosters one’s confidence positively through constructionism, the appreciative inquiry can be a choice of pedagogy and has positive implications for learners at the social level. Originality/value The study presents a fairly novel approach as it focuses on encouraging engineers to improve their presentation skills and to focus on what they do well (rather than what their weaknesses are) so they can build their confidence.
Appreciative inquiry (AI) is a moniker that describes at least three discrete renderings of a basic exploration for what gives life and energy to systems, organizations, and people. First, AI operates as an alternative form of organization development (OD), and has been called the next generation of the classic version. Secondly, AI can be used simply as a tool or technique applied to situations, although many experts disagree that this assertion grossly underestimates the transformative potential. Third, and most profound, AI is a life philosophy, a worldview. AI draws first upon Schweitzer’s work, “reverence for life,” particularly through sharing past successes to provide that life-giving energy to the discussion. AI requires a base knowledge of the scientific thought paradigms in Western society. To suggest that AI can be a process may contradict its rather free flowing nature. Still, models are developed in order to simply, proliferate, and, hopefully, evolve process. appreciative inquiry; Organizational development
ResearchGate has not been able to resolve any references for this publication.