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Process consultation as conceived and reformulated several times by Edgar Schein constitutes a seminal contribution to the process of organization development in general and to the definition of the helping role of the consultant in particular. Under the pressure of a pragmatic turn in organizational change work, the practice of process consultation was fading away during the eighties and nineties. In some particular training and organizational consulting contexts nevertheless, the foundational principles and practices of process consultation are experienced to be more relevant than ever before. A relational constructionist theoretical lens, an emphasis on joint consultant—client practices, and a proper contextual embedding constitute a relational practice perspective that embodies in a new form and language those foundational ideas.
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Behavioral Science
The Journal of Applied
DOI: 10.1177/0021886308326563
2009; 45; 39 Journal of Applied Behavioral Science
Frank Lambrechts, Styn Grieten, René Bouwen and Felix Corthouts
Process Consultation Revisited: Taking a Relational Practice
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Process Consultation Revisited
Taking a Relational Practice Perspective
Frank Lambrechts
Hasselt University, Diepenbeek, Belgium
Styn Grieten
HUBrussel, Brussels, Belgium
René Bouwen
University of Leuven, Belgium
Felix Corthouts
Hasselt University, Diepenbeek, Belgium
Process consultation as conceived and reformulated several times by Edgar Schein consti-
tutes a seminal contribution to the process of organization development in general and
to the definition of the helping role of the consultant in particular. Under the pressure
of a pragmatic turn in organizational change work, the practice of process consultation
was fading away during the eighties and nineties. In some particular training and orga-
nizational consulting contexts nevertheless, the foundational principles and practices of
process consultation are experienced to be more relevant than ever before. A relational
constructionist theoretical lens, an emphasis on joint consultant–client practices, and a
proper contextual embedding constitute a relational practice perspective that embodies
in a new form and language those foundational ideas.
ment; relational constructionism; quality of relational practices; contextual
This article acknowledges the pioneering contribution of Edgar Schein in the
development of the laboratory training methodology. Schein was indeed among
the founders of the “laboratory training” learning method, later called T-group,
together with pioneers such as Kurt Lewin, Kenneth Benne, Leland Bradford,
Warren Bennis, Ronald Lippitt, and also Chris Argyris (Marrow, 1969). Stimulating
reflection on joint here-and-now group experiences was considered as one of the
core processes that made the T-group an innovative educational approach. In an auto-
biographical essay, Schein (1993a) describes his first T-group experience as “an
incredibly potent experience for me that forever changed my view of the field” (p. 8).
From that moment on till the present, Schein has been focusing on how to build help-
ing relationships between consultant and client (system). This focus is clearly pre-
sent in his work on process consultation (Schein, 1969b, 1999a) and his more recent
work on dialogue (Schein, 1993b, 2003).
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40 Journal of Applied Behavioral Science
In his seminal work on social change processes, Schein conceptualized the
unfreezing phase in the Lewin change cycle as the outcome of disconfirming expe-
riences or lack of confirming experiences among the actors involved. Throughout
their interaction, actors confirm or disconfirm the balance in the triangle “self-
image–perception by others–perception of the context” (Schein, 1969a, 1999b,
2002). Interaction process reflection is considered to be at the heart of the change
process. Beyond the interpersonal and group level, Schein extended this discovery
into the “invention” of organizational psychology as a research and practice field.
Indeed, Bernie Bass and Edgar Schein wrote the first two textbooks with the title
Organizational Psychology (Bass, 1965; Schein, 1965).
Making interventions that foster this process learning (e.g., Probst & Büchel, 1997)
in interactive contexts can be considered as the essence of what Schein called process
consultation, in training intervention as well as in mere management contexts. Schein
made the first formulation of process consultation in the firstAddison Wesley series on
organization development (OD; Schein, 1969b). He was coeditor with the late Richard
Beckhard of the OD series, which has published more than 30 volumes thus far. With
the concept of process consultation, Schein tries to explain what really works in inter-
vention efforts during change processes (in interaction, in groups, in organizations).
And this “What works?” can be circumscribed as being involved and engaging,
observing, becoming aware, and reflecting on the ongoing interaction, relationships,
and experiential processes so that the self-steering capacity and ownership of the client
(system) can be enhanced. Process consultation means working in the present reality,
in the ongoing interaction (Schein, 1987), and understanding “the ebb and flow of that
reality moment to moment, shifting roles as necessary” (Schein, 1999b, p. 70).
The concept of process consultation remained strongly linked with the contribution
of Schein (revisited edition in 1999) and faded away elsewhere. Developed during the
sixties, when memories about T-groups were still vivid, it hardly survived the new ori-
entations in organization development during the seventies and eighties, when the
emphasis on problem solving and structural and strategic approaches were considered
more important than the mere processual or micro approach. Process consultation was
substituted during the nineties by eclectic coaching and facilitating approaches from
very diverse perspectives. The original process emphasis, originated in the T-groups,
got merely lost in the functional and instrumental approaches demanded by the busi-
ness schools’ students and alumni. Indeed, today process consultation is predominantly
conceived as one type of OD intervention method (Cummings & Worley, 2005) or as
cially suitable when dealing with socioemotional processes and problems in work
groups and organizations (e.g., dysfunctional conflict, deficient group processes, poor
communication, and ineffective behaviors and norms). Defined this way, process con-
sultation has become just one of the intervention techniques or instruments in the OD
consultant’s tool bag instead of a general philosophy or action principle that underlies
each intervention effort during change processes.
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Although there is a lot of material available on “good” and “bad” process, the
concept and practice of process consultation itself has always been and still is diffi-
cult to grasp. Schein himself stresses this point in the preface of the revisited edition
of process consultation (Schein, 1999a) contemplating that colleague advisors and
managers still do not understand the essence of process consultation: it is not a tech-
nique or a collection of interventions for working with groups, it is not a model for
nondirective counseling, and it is not an occupation or full-time job. Process consul-
tation is essentially about building a helping (client–consultant) relationship through
a continuous effort of “jointly deciphering what is going on” (Schein, 1999a, p. 6)
in the ongoing interaction, relationship, and situation to make coauthored choices
about how to go on. In the concluding chapter of Process Consultation Revisited,
Schein underlines the importance of keeping a sharp eye on the helping nature of the
relationship: “When all is said and done, I measure my success in every contact by
whether or not I feel the relationship has been helpful and whether or not the client
feels helped” (Schein, 1999a, pp. 242-243).
Several reasons can be identified why process consultation is often misunder-
stood and why it had difficulty surviving the various developments in OD thinking.
First, the concept of process consultation is used in two different meanings by
Schein (1987, 1999a). It refers to both the continuous process of building a helping
(client–consultant) relationship and to a specific consultation role (doctor–patient
model, expert model, and process consultancy model) that is enacted during the
process, depending on the joint assessment of which role is most helpful at present.
Second, empirical research on process consultation is rather scarce (e.g., Cummings
& Worley, 2005; Kaplan, 1979). And third, although Schein is championing clinical
and qualitative approaches (1995) and is using a symbolic–interactionist approach
(Schein, 1999a), there seems to have been a lack of vocabulary and conceptualiza-
tion of the relational processes that are at work. Maybe this lack of proper theoriz-
ing of what really works in ongoing interactions for change makes the survival and
diffusion of process consultation hard. A relational practice perspective on interven-
tion and change processes can offer this kind of theorizing and can help catch the
dynamics going on in process consultation. This perspective is introduced in the sec-
ond part of the article. Subsequently the concept of relational practice, and its rela-
tionship to process consultation, is illustrated using an in-depth comparative case of
a change process in a consulting firm and a health care organization. We conclude
by discussing the added value of a relational practice perspective by arguing how our
findings go beyond and actualize Schein’s work on process consultation.
Taking a Relational Practice Perspective
At the end of his book Process Consultation Revisited (Schein, 1999a), Schein
wonders about his stubbornness about writing again and again about the value of
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process consultation. Organizational consultants keep telling him that they have to
make formal diagnoses, write extensive reports, and make sound recommendations.
“Why don’t we apply in organizational consulting the learning we have acquired in
other helping professions: about client involvement, about people having to learn at
their own pace, about helping clients to have insights and solve their own prob-
lems?” (Schein, 1999a, p. 247). Building a relationship with the client—Schein calls
it “a helping relationship”—is for him the first and absolutely necessary condition
for any help or learning to take place. It is beyond the scope of this article to discuss
the factual and successful application of these principles in the other helping pro-
fessions. Here we want to focus on the conditions and possibilities to enhance the
actual practice of those principles in organizational consulting work. Beyond fram-
ing it as a helping relationship, we want to deepen further the question, “What makes
those principles work?” By substituting the concept process consultation with the
vocabulary relational practice, we want to stress mainly three additional accents in
the process: introducing the theoretical lens of relational constructionism, focusing
on (the quality of) enacted practices, and bounding the context characteristics. Our
intention is to actualize the process consultation philosophy and practice in new
thinking about organizing and changing organizational processes.
Since the seminal work of Kenneth Gergen (1982, 1st ed.) on human sciences as
on social constructionism (among others, Gergen, 1994; Hosking, 2006; McNamee,
1998; Shotter, 1993, 2004; Shotter & Katz, 1996). Social reality is considered as a
mutual negotiation of meaning among all actors involved by sharing understanding of
contexts. Not only shared cognitions (Weick, 1995) but also a mutual enactment of
relationships creates the social reality (Gergen, 1994). Recent authors therefore pre-
fer the concept of relational constructionism to emphasize the relational essence of
social reality construction. The quality of the relational processes—one-sidedness or
reciprocity—is constitutive for the inclusion or exclusion of social actors in the result-
ing social network. This paradigm underscores precisely Schein’s emphasis on the
relational work during consulting and learning activities. Schein is yet stressing the
role of feedback and reflection as a mechanism to reconstruct self and others’ per-
ception as intrapsychic processes. A relational constructionist perspective puts the
mutual relational work right in the center of attention. Schein could probably give a
better answer to consultants who want to measure and write reports instead of engag-
ing in relationship building when he considers organizations no longer as entities or
objects but rather as ongoing joint projects of relational negotiation. It is an entative
view versus a dynamic view on organizing (Hosking, 2004). But changing is essen-
tially relational work. Therefore we want to propose relational constructionism as a
proper theoretical approach to ground the essence of process consultation.
The second aspect we want to stress in substituting process consultation with the
language of relational practice is a return-to-practice perspective. A group of scholars
in organization theory, inspired by philosophers such as Wittgenstein and Bourdieu,
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sees the essence of organizing in the enacted collective practices of knowledge and
relationships (Gherardi, 2000; Orlikowski, 2002). Joint practices are considered as
the carriers of knowledge, learning, and change rather than the reflection or mere
“talking about” getting organized. In the relational constructionist approach, Shotter
(2004) stresses the turn to practice in our language practices of talking and writing:
“withness (dialogical)” talk versus “aboutness (monological)” talk. It is the differ-
ence between talk that moves and talk that leaves us unmoved. Language is consid-
ered as action rather than representation. He distinguishes a relationally responsive
language practice from a representational–referential form. In consulting behavior,
it means that an intervention gets its effective meaning from the actual reciprocal
practice between consultant and client rather than from the cognitive reflection. A
relational practice is positioning and moving the interacting partners. Change is
enacted in the intervention and not some kind of output or result of it. The here-and-
now approach concerns the actual “doing things to each other” and not just the
reflection on the here and now. What works in consultation is the quality of this rec-
iprocal interaction. Schein has not made the quality features of practices explicitly
clear in his work on process consultation; a relational practice perspective does.
In Table 1, the most typical concrete and observable characteristics of high-versus
low-quality relational practices are listed. Most of the aspects are self-explanatory
and are discussed throughout the text. The mutual creation of energy or continuing
motivation and the development of the experience of co-ownership is particularly
important. The best examples of high-quality relational practices stem from daily live
activities, maybe especially in the sphere of art, recreation, and sport activities: a free
dance, a good conversation, an improvisation theatre, a ball game, a celebration.
A third aspect we want to emphasize is the importance of a proper contextual
bounding. As mentioned above, the T-group approach and the related process con-
sultation could not survive in a lot of training and organization consulting settings
during the eighties and nineties. Often, there seemed to be too large a gap between
the largely functional and instrumental context already in place and process consul-
tation. Schein does not stress the importance of a proper contextual embedding; a
relational practice perspective puts it in the center of attention, as will be illustrated
in the comparative case. However, even in a learning setting inspired by sensitivity
training principles and process consultation, we have noticed the importance of this
contextual embeddedness. The authors of this article are associated with a 2-year
advanced OD professional development program, Consultancy in Groups and
Organizations (CIGO), a collaboration between Hasselt University (Belgium),
University of Leuven (Belgium), and Case Western Reserve University (United
States), where process-oriented practices constitute the core activities since the early
seventies up to today, especially the intensive group training experience during the
opening week. We have always been watching carefully the boundaries of this
program as a cultural island: intake of candidates, group composition, group learn-
ing norms and appreciative support, attendance over a long time span, continuous
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open mutual confrontation and authenticity, coaching of field experiences, parallel
emphasis on group maturity and personal growth, and a high-quality learning com-
munity. The setup of this program reflects a careful and continuous boundary man-
agement and renegotiation of development goals. The development of a “mature
learning group” during the 1st week is an important condition for the success of the
rest of the program. During this 1st week a relational context of learning relation-
ships is built, in which all relational practices that follow are embedded. The cultural
values of this way of working are quite different from the pragmatic or functional
values practiced in a lot of social and business organizations. Argyris’ distinction of
a model II (two-sided reciprocity) versus a model I (one-sided control) world may
apply here (e.g., Argyris & Schön, 1978). In change consulting work in organiza-
tions, as illustrated later in this article, it is also important to consider the fit with the
relational context of any particular organization.
44 Journal of Applied Behavioral Science
Low-Quality Relational Practice
One-sidedness in relationship
Talking about: distant,
disengaged, or uninvolved,
unresponsive interaction that
leaves speakers unmoved and
possibly evokes generalizable
Statements are vague and not
Mutual questioning, testing, and
contradicting of statements is
not possible or avoided
Mutual blaming, defending, and
No possibility of jointly
becoming author and owner of
a task or project
Dominant voices control the
interaction; other voices are
kept silent and are excluded
Talking from outside the here-
and-now interaction
High-Quality Relational Practice
Reciprocity between the actors’
Talking with: sensitive, engaged,
or involved, reflective, and
responsive interaction that
moves speakers and possibly
evokes actionable knowledge
Mutually open, concrete, and
illustrated communication
Mutual questioning, testing, and
contradicting of statements is
possible and stimulated,
allowing for deep or double-
loop learning
Jointly talking in terms of
possibilities and energy-giving
Joint authorship and co-ownership
of a task or project
Multiple voices can be raised,
heard, and are included
Talking from within the here-
and-now interaction
Inspiring Authors
Bouwen, 2001; Bouwen &
Taillieu, 2004
Beer, 2000; Shotter, 1993, 2004
Argyris & Schön, 1978
Argyris & Schön, 1978; Schön &
Rein, 1994
Cooperrider, Whitney, & Stavros,
2003; Quinn & Dutton, 2005
Schein, 1999a, 1999b; Shotter,
1993, 2004
Bouwen & Hosking, 2000;
Hosking, 2004, 2006
McNamee, 1998; McNamee &
Gergen, 1998
Table 1
Concrete and Observable Characteristics Defining Low-
and High-Quality Relational Practice
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Our reformulation of process consultation as relational practice work may consti-
tute a more tangible and progressive approach to start the change work of bridging the
gap between client and consultant and between the actual and desired state. The art is
the designing, in a given context, of high-quality relational practices that can carry the
change process. The cognitive–reflective and confrontational–emotional demands of
process consultation can be a difficult threshold. Within a relational practice perspec-
tive, the emphasis is more on doing the relationship than reflecting on it.
Beyond Process Consultation Toward
Engaging in Relational Practices
Most characteristics of high-quality relational practices apply also to process con-
sultation, when we focus on the openness of communication, the development of
mutual trust, and the actual building of a relationship. However, there are differences
both in the position actors take and in the orientation and goal of the collaborative
interaction. Both perspectives are discussed, showing how relational practice work
fits with and goes beyond Schein’s process consultation.
Process consultation is first of all a professional role perspective from the position
of the helper consultant. In process consultation it is explicitly a meeting of a consul-
tant or some officer and a client or follower. It is the encounter of some kind of
professional or educator with the intention to bring some support or service or con-
tribution. Typical for process consultation is the framing of the relationship as a help-
ing relationship. The attention of the helper consultant is on deciphering observable
events that guide intervention possibilities (Schein, 1999a). Schein’s view on consul-
tation is mainly cognitive–psychological. Carefully observing and feeding back to the
client are seen as important mechanisms to offer help. Stimulating talking about and
reflecting on joint here-and-now group experiences, on the relationships being devel-
oped, and on how to do things differently is seen as the core working principle of a
good consultation session. Reflectively talking about the frames of the client (system)
and offering more appropriate frames to help the client reframe the situation (to help
himself) are central. A good intervention simultaneously allows both the helper and
the client to diagnose what is going on. The consultant is involved in the client’s
inquiry process as a clinical inquirer and the process is primarily driven by the client’s
needs (Schein, 1995). Basically, this comes down to “the helper help[ing] the person,
group or organization that needs help. Process consultation also has a strong prob-
lem-solving orientation (Schein, 1999a, 1999b). Change is seen as a result of joint
consultant–client analyzing, diagnosing, and remediating.
The relational practice view is above all a practical performance perspective from
the position of all actors involved. The emphasis is on engaging in a joint activity,
where both sides have a contribution and a proper stake in the encounter. It is a more
inclusive perspective. It stresses the importance of enacting reciprocal relationships
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between mutually responsive coactors. Attention centers on jointly produced activity
or co-constructed events that are strongly embedded in context. The view underlines
that relational practices are continuously embedded in a specific historical–relational
context that is always partly actualized in the interactions actors engage in. Interaction
and context are coproduced (e.g., Bourdieu, 1980; Hosking, 2006; Lave, 1993). This
contextual embeddedness is the source of new possibilities, but it also constrains what
can follow (Hosking, 2004). Other concepts used to indicate this relational context are
“broader networks of relationships” (McNamee, 1998), “organizational culture”
(Schein, 2004), and “the smell of the place” (Ghoshal & Bartlett, 1999). Coactors are
jointly involved in each other’s inquiry process as partners. The process is driven by
mutually acknowledging and supporting each other’s needs. “Simultaneously helping
yourself and others” is considered as a core working principle. Within process con-
sultation the shaping of the reciprocity is more imbalanced. It is the consultant helper
who engages in the inquiry process of the client as a clinical inquirer; they are not
equal partners. Similarly to process consultation, a relational practice perspective
works with the here-and-now interacting but stresses more the embedded nature of
practices in a particular relational context. Simultaneous enactment of engaging,
experiencing, and reflecting within joint practice is central. A consultation session is
considered good if partners are not only reflecting on how to do things differently but
really do things differently, that is, more jointly and generatively, enacting more rela-
tional quality (see Table 1). There is more emphasis on doing things together than on
reflecting or diagnosing. Framing and reframing is jointly done. Within a relational
practice perspective, the quality of interaction and relationships is seen as the most
active carrier of the quality of organizing and change processes (e.g., Bouwen, 1998;
Shotter, 1993). This way, relational practice work has a more solution-focused appre-
ciative orientation (e.g., Cooperrider et al., 2003). Changing is coengaging in gener-
ative practices. The focus is on possibilities and new opportunities. The joint action is
going where the energy is. The context is involved mainly through the joint activity
in which the actors engage. The essence of good relational practice work is doing
things together in such a quality way that all actors involved benefit from the practice.
In Table 2 the different accents of process consultation and relational practice work
are summarized.
In the fourth part of the article the relational practice lens, and its relationship to
process consultation, is illustrated by an in-depth comparative case of a successful
and unsuccessful change process, respectively, in a health care organization (CARE)
and a consulting firm (CONSULT).
Illustrating a Relational Practice Perspective:
an In-Depth Comparative Case
Both cases concern a fundamental change process that is intensively facilitated by
consultants during a time period of approximately 2 years. Similar high-quality
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relational practices, when looking at the here-and-now concrete interventions and
interaction characteristics (see Table 1), were set up to shape the change process
toward a new organizational structure and functioning. However, the concrete context-
bounded actualization and assembling of the relational practices, and consequently
the effects of the relational practices on the change process, is very different in both
cases. In CARE the change process is successful according to the actors involved, in
CONSULT the change process is rather seen as a failure. First, the two organizations
and their respective change processes are portrayed concisely. Next, a number of
working relational practices and the importance of a proper contextual boundedness
are illustrated.
Change in CARE and CONSULT
CARE is a Dutch health care organization that provides care and support to adults
and children with mental handicaps (clients). The organization consists of 450
coworkers who work in several regional divisions. CARE is a value-driven organi-
zation with an explicit and shared mission that accentuates the welfare, involvement,
Lambrechts et al. / Process Consultation Revisited 47
Table 2
Comparison Between Process Consultation and
Relational Practice Perspective
Process Consultation Perspective Relational Practice Perspective
Professional role perspective from the position of
helper consultant
Core focus: building helping relationships
“Helping” metaphor: being helpful as consultant,
teacher, parent, spouse, etc.
Consultant’s attention is on observing and giving
back to the client
Clinical inquiry of the client: “the helper helps
the person or entity that needs help”
Working with here-and-now interaction
Stimulating talking about and reflecting on joint
group experiences and on the relationships
being developed
Problem-solving orientation
Mainly cognitive-psychological view on
Essence of good process consultancy: helping the
client help himself
Practical performance perspective from the position
of coactor
Core focus: enacting reciprocal relationships
“Responsiveness” metaphor: being mutually
responsive as coactors
Attention is on jointly produced activity or co-
constructed events embedded in context
Coactors are jointly involved in each other’s
inquiry process: “simultaneously helping
yourself and others”
Working with here-and-now interacting embedded
in context
Simultaneous enactment of engaging, experiencing,
and reflecting; doing things differently together
Solution-focused appreciative orientation
Interactionist view on consultation
Essence of good relational practice work: doing
things together in such a quality way (see Table 1)
that all actors involved benefit from the practice
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and participation of both clients and coworkers. The change process is an in-depth
internal team-oriented transformation to face up to the external pressure of scale
enlargement in the health sector. CARE works on organization development and in
doing so tries to preserve and even to strengthen its mission and identity. Most visi-
ble nevertheless are the structural changes. First, a management team was formed to
support the managing director, who participated in the 2-year advanced OD profes-
sional development program CIGO mentioned above. Second, team coaches, who
merely supported social workers, became team leaders with more coordinating and
supervising responsibilities. Third, the central administration was consolidated and
improved. To enact these changes, a number of relational practices interventions
were set up: for example, implementing of learning groups; organizing large group
interventions to inform, involve, and align coworkers and to make them the coauthor
and co-owner of the change process; codesigning an evaluation of the change
process toward further continuous organizational development.
CONSULT is a Belgian consultancy firm that supports organizations in the field
of Total Quality Management (TQM) in the broad sense. Apart from 10 permanent
coworkers, CONSULT works with a network of freelance consultants. Similarly to
CARE, the change process is profound. It concerns a transformation of the vision,
team working, and internal organization to reposition the organization to deal with the
increasing pressure of the consultancy market. Formerly, expert training through open
training programs in the CONSULT facilities was given primary attention. Because
of market changes, and associated changes in the professional aspirations of the
CONSULT members, the current organization mainly offers in-company consultancy
and training. Another important parallel with CARE is that the managing director of
CONSULT participated in the same process-oriented development program CIGO as
the director of CARE. As in the CARE case, different relational practices can be dis-
tinguished: for example, having meetings to (re)formulate the mission, vision, and
strategy; creating new forms of leadership and task distribution; and evaluating the
open training programs and introducing a more client-centered view on TQM.
Designing and Assembling Relational Practices Within
the CARE and CONSULT Change Process
A number of high-quality relational practices, with observable working effects in
the here and now, can be illustrated for each case. It is beyond the scope of this arti-
cle to discuss all relational practices that have shaped both change processes. Some
of the above-mentioned high-quality relational practices of CARE are discussed, fol-
lowed by those of CONSULT. Next, the quality of the overall relational practices of
CARE and CONSULT are compared in detail.
The implementation of learning groups within CARE. During the change process
of CARE, learning groups were designed within and between various hierarchical
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levels: the team leader with his or her team, team leaders from different divisions,
the manager with his or her team leaders, and the management team. These learning
groups were set up at a monthly basis and lasted 3 hr per session. Process consul-
tants facilitated these learning groups until this practice became self-steering and
fully owned by the participants themselves.
From the beginning, these learning groups were jointly negotiated as legitimate
spaces, where learning through sharing experiences constituted the most important
and explicit goal. Participants met, reflected, and experimented actively with their
daily work issues, (here-and-now) interactions, mutual relationships, emotions, how
they were functioning as a group, and the organizational change process. The learn-
ing was around the here-and-now ongoing relational practice, the jointly created role-
plays, and the joint practicing of new, more generative ways of relating and enacting
the change process. The learning experience was directly connected to actual organi-
zational practices. Participants worked directly on the improvement of recent real-life
cases. Hence, the classical problem of transfer was strongly reduced through the rich-
ness and context boundedness of the learning practice itself. Enacting, experiencing,
and reflecting on common relational practices was the permanent learning ground.
Participants exchanged concrete and personal experiences in the group and experi-
mented with new forms of interacting that were more supporting of the joint learning
goals. Continuously keeping a sharp eye on the level of authenticity, transparency, and
reciprocity enacted in the ongoing interactions is an important working principle of
the learning groups. This can be illustrated by the open way a conflict episode
between the managing director and a member of the management team was dealt with
in the learning group. All participants, including the consultant, reflected on each
other’s perspectives and framed and reframed their understandings of the ongoing sit-
uation. Gradually they developed a more differentiated and shared image of the situ-
ation that opened up new space to continue in a constructive way.
Over time, learning group participants developed a strong sense of co-ownership
of the new learning form. The facilitating consultants stimulated participants to
become increasingly engaged and relationally responsive in the joint practice of the
learning group. This way they made themselves gradually superfluous. The consul-
tant remained “low key” (Schein, 1999b), by putting aside own judgments, and inter-
vened only if he felt he could stimulate more enacting of reciprocal and generative
relationships. The team leaders and the team members gradually incorporated this
consultation behavior. They expanded their (inter)action repertoire to enhance the
interactivity and reflexivity and thus the quality of the ongoing process. One team
leader expressed “what works” in the learning groups as “now we are talking directly
to each other, and we are really testing new possibilities, instead of talking about
each other behind each other’s back” (e.g., Shotter, 2004).
The organization of large-group interventions within CARE. As mentioned ear-
lier, the process of including and excluding voices in relational practices is a central
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concern when taking a relational practice perspective. It was also a central concern
in the organizational change process of the health organization CARE, in which var-
ious actors were involved gradually using large group interventions. After a first
report was made by an external audit agency, in which several recommendations for
improving the organization were proposed and discussed, consultants facilitated a
first 2-day-long large-group intervention for all leading staff, that is, the managing
director, the management team, and the team leaders. Here the recommendations of
the report were jointly discussed: “Can we agree on the directions of the proposed
change and if so, how do we proceed?” All actors involved agreed with the proposed
changes, and decisions were made to translate the changes into concrete actions. A
mixed coordination and design group, in which a diversity of perspectives was
involved (managing director, two members of the management team, two team
leaders, an external consultant, and two caregivers), was set up to monitor and coor-
dinate the change process and design subsequent large-group interventions to enact
the change process. Three workgroups were set up and a joint practice between team
leaders and the management team was initiated to make new job descriptions for
both groups. By involving actors this way, withness (dialogical) talk (Shotter, 2004),
coauthorship, and joint ownership are stimulated.
Six months later, a second large-group intervention was set up in which all rele-
vant stakeholders (caregivers, parents, and relatives, supporting staff, clients, team
leaders, management team, and director) were brought together in 2 days (200 per-
sons a day). The days were cofacilitated by several consultants. The goal of this rela-
tional practice was to create involvement and ownership of the change process, to
energize and engage participants, and to celebrate and strengthen a sense of solidar-
ity and unity. Participants enacted energizing and reciprocal practices through appre-
ciative interviews and group reflection about the life-giving forces of their work and
CARE. Participants were also invited in groups to actively and creatively design the
basic values of CARE with the help of applied improvisation theatre. The creatively
“doing together” resulted in a lot of energy to go forward. The large-group inter-
vention ended with jointly formulating priority action points to enact the desired
change process. The design group collected the main results, which were fed back
shortly after the event. To consolidate the change process, an evaluation meeting was
planned a few months later.
The organization of a 2-day-long revitalization and strategy intervention within
CONSULT. Similar to CARE, CONSULT also engaged in relational practices in
which the whole organization was involved. The director had developed a strategic
model in advance and wanted to test whether his model was seen as feasible and
could be accepted by all organizational actors. However, together with an external
process consultant, the decision was made to set a few steps back. All CONSULT
members were invited to a 2-day-long strategic weekend, allowing creation of co-
ownership and relational responsibility about strategic issues and about the vision of
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CONSULT. Participants were the director, three board members, six consultants, a
freelancer, a client, five supporting staff members, the external process consultant,
and PhD researchers. Typical illustrations for the relational practices being set up
can be identified. First, participants engaged in appreciative interviews in pairs about
recent high points in daily work experience. This proved to be a mutually energizing
and rewarding activity. Participants were really involved and moved by each other’s
stories. Their question to each other was, “What exactly gave you energy concern-
ing this high point?” Next, three groups were formed. Concrete experiences and
associated energy-giving factors were discussed and written down on a flip chart for
plenary presentations. Starting from the identified energizers, participants jointly
generated an ideal dream image of CONSULT in small groups: “Picture CONSULT
in 10 years; it is the perfect organization to work in; the collaboration among
coworkers is very good; we are the market leader and the benchmark for other com-
panies. What characteristics (structures, way of interacting, internal organization)
would be in place?” The dream images were drawn on a flip chart and presented ple-
nary. A lot of energy was generated. The images were questioned, contradicted, and
complemented with other views. The meeting ended with jointly discussing priority
action points to make the desired future come true in joint actual practice. The deci-
sion was made to do an evaluation in 6 months.
Although there was a lot of energy in the here and now, and participants engaged
in reciprocal interactions, this energy declined later in the process mainly because of
one-sided interactions from the chairman of the board of directors. Issues concern-
ing vision and strategy temporarily ebbed away. However, in the course of the
change process, the need was felt again to explicitly continue developing a shared
vision that could be supported by all organizational members.
Designing a group meeting for formulating a new vision. After one of the actors
had introduced the idea of working on the question “What does quality mean for
each of us?” a consultant was involved to help in the cocreation of a common vision
based on the individual quality stories. Similar to the strategy weekend, the appre-
ciative nature of the question can be seen as a generative metaphor that made an
important opening for engaged and reflective interactions moving all actors. It stim-
ulated a generative way of engaging in relation with each other.
For example, the management assistant said that for her, quality comes to life
when she is surrounded by people who respect and trust her. Her story became more
tangible when her colleagues and the consultant reformulated her idea, supported
what she said, and in fact engaged in interactions so important for this management
assistant’s daily work.
Another example is the story of the director who equaled quality with discover-
ing possibilities for standing “between” people instead of “above” them. When he
indicated that he had the feeling of losing the connection with coworkers, mutual
testing of assumptions was induced, allowing for deep learning to take place.
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The appreciative relational practice of sharing stories about quality was further-
more characterized by interventions (from consultant and coworkers) such as self-
reflection, reciprocity between contributions, and open and concrete communication.
The consultant stimulated these interventions but kept a low profile to let the group
members take their process more in their own hands.
In the next step, the group formulated the idea to visualize the separate quality
stories in the image of a sun. Common values were placed in the heart of the sun,
where personal accents were placed in the sunbeams. Using the metaphor of the sun,
pasting Post-its on the image, and discussing it allowed all actors to do things
together, beyond merely reflecting on quality. This joint relational practice in which
all actors experienced coauthorship and co-ownership was associated with a high
energy level that was created right on the spot. Finally, arrangements were made to
follow up the meeting to further concretize the organizational vision.
Comparing the quality of the overall relational practices of CARE and CONSULT.
When observing the relational practices within the CARE change process, various
concrete high-quality relationship characteristics are prominent. In most relational
practices, there is a high responsiveness and reciprocity. Actors build on each other’s
contributions and take joint responsibility for the here-and-now process and out-
comes: they experience coauthorship and co-ownership of the task, process, and out-
come. They take a reflective stance and decipher what is going on and what should
improve but do not stay (too) long in this reflective or talking about mode. Mostly,
they are really doing and practicing new interaction alternatives and working
methods in the here and now: “Let’s try it out now and learn from it instead of stay-
ing so ‘cognitive’ about it, so we can build on it further. They experiment; there is
mutual questioning and contradicting going on about enacting new tangible possi-
bilities for improvement.
In contrast to CARE, the relational practices of the CONSULT change process
are strongly dominated by observing and reflecting on here-and-now interactions
and relationships and giving feedback to each other about personal and group func-
tioning. Seen from a process consultation point of view, actors develop high inter-
actional quality in terms of observable interaction characteristics. They question
each other; mutually contradicting and testing is possible and emotions are openly
discussed. They stay in a reflective mode and talk most of the time about how to
solve the problems at hand. In comparison with CARE, we observe that the actual
practicing of new ways of relating and new work approaches and building mutually
on each other’s contributions occurs less frequently. Within CONSULT, it seems that
actors are reproducing with each other process consultation interventions. There is a
lot of cognitive–psychological inquiry work going on. However, creating new alter-
natives and experimenting with concrete new work forms—actually “doing things to
each other”—is often missing. Although there are some differences in the concrete
way that the relational practices of CARE and CONSULT are enacted, these quality
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differences are not sufficient to explain the very different effects of the relational
practices in the change process. It is only through in-depth interviews with all actors
involved that the importance of the context-bounded actualization of relational prac-
tices becomes clear.
Contextual Features in Relational Practices for Change
In this paragraph, we illustrate how relational practices are always embedded in
contextual features. When comparing relational practices from CARE to those from
CONSULT only by examining observable characteristics as summarized in Table 1,
we could conclude that both cases engage in some similar high-quality relational
practices. Moreover, the managing directors of both organizations participated in the
same advanced professional development program for group and organizational con-
sultants that is inspired by Schein’s process consultation principles. Consequently,
they are very sensitive to the quality of the relational practices in their organization
as an indication of the overall organizational health and vitality.
By using decontextualized discourse analyses of conversational episodes during both
change processes, one would have concluded that both change processes were similarly
successful because they share so many high-quality relational practices. However, in-
depth interviews with the actors revealed that in CARE, people unanimously perceived
the change process as being successful. In CONSULT, however, people tended to have
Even if we asked them about relational practices that were—according to what we had
observed—of high quality, actors were very skeptical and did not give us the impres-
sion that these practices were very helpful for the change process.
What is going on here? Different historical–relational contexts “do” different
things to the same kind of observable interactional quality of relational practices.
Even high-quality relational practices will not improve group or organizational func-
tioning when embedded in a relational context that does not support collaboration. Table 3
gives an extensive overview of the constraining contextual features of CONSULT and
the supporting contextual features of CARE.
First, the managing director in both organizations is perceived quite differently.
In the change process of CARE, the managing director is seen as a legitimate author-
ity figure. He is appreciated and accepted by nearly all members of the organization.
When interviewed, one caregiver expressed this common feeling: “He is a warm-
hearted managing director. Do you know that he knows every person’s first name?
We are an organization of approximately 450 people. Amazing, isn’t it?” In the
change process of CONSULT, the mutual perception of the relationship among the
managing director and a large number of the organizational members is character-
ized by no real contact and by distrust, defensive reactions, lack of acceptance,
mutual blaming, and complaining. Over time, this feeling has spread over the entire
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A second important contextual feature is very much connected with process con-
sultation. The director of CONSULT speaks a process language without being able
to translate this to all coworkers. He emphasizes the process of jointly deciphering
what is going on by mainly focusing on continuous reflection and feedback. In
CARE, the director is able to speak different languages, depending on the specific
situation. Moreover, emphasis in CARE is primarily on the practice of doing new
things together, rather than on feedback and reflection. This is a clear example of the
difference between a process consultation logic and a relational practice logic.
54 Journal of Applied Behavioral Science
Table 3
Embeddedness of Relational Practices in a Historical–
Relational Context: Constraining Contextual Features of
CONSULT and Supporting Contextual Features of CARE
Contextual Factors of CONSULT Constraining
High-Quality Relational Practices
Distrust toward managing director, no real contact,
no acceptance, mutual blaming, and complaining
Managing director only speaks a process language
and merely translates this to all coworkers
Culture of reflecting without putting it into joint
No clear mission, vision, and strategy to guide
Culture of unbounded autonomy and freedom, of
not keeping one’s commitments to each other,
no consequences
Financial problems making future insecure
Atmosphere of ad hoc coping with problems
Culture of stressing differences between persons
and groups
No history of learning and development
Lack of energy and a negative perception about the
change process
No perceived legitimate space to engage in deeper
conversations; lack of formal job evaluation
conversations and coaching
Lack of (or low quality of) assembling relational
practices, no follow-up
Contextual Factors of CARE Supporting
High-Quality Relational Practices
Managing director perceived as a legitimate
authority figure, accepted leadership on all levels
Managing director and management team are able
to wear different hats: formal, informal, and
Culture of doing (new) things; making the future
together instead of talking about the past
Strong and inspiring mission (values) and vision
that is understood, subscribed to, and enacted
in daily work
Freedom is embedded in principles, goals, and
agreements (e.g., mission statement)
Bright (financial) future
Emerging problems are consequently translated
into possibilities and actions for improvement
Focus is on searching for similarities: bridges are
continuously built between groups
Shared practices of learning and development on
all levels
Basic enthusiasm and energy among critical mass
of coworkers
Mutually accepted learning space by means of
learning groups, anchored in the organizational
structure; individual and group coaching and
job evaluation conversations are installed
High-quality assembling of relational practices
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The context of CONSULT, in which relational practices are embedded, is fur-
thermore characterized by uncertainty about the future of the company, a lack of a
clear vision, and a culture of ad hoc coping with problems, of unbounded autonomy
and freedom, and of no consequences for not keeping mutual commitments. The
overall mutual perception of relationships and intentions is, “She [he] wants to make
progress at the expense of me, I cannot trust her [him].
The relational context of CARE is characterized by quite different features. There
is a “basic enthusiasm and energy” and high job satisfaction. A strong inspiring mis-
sion and vision is understood, subscribed to, and enacted in the daily work practices
by the critical mass of the organizational members (“the talk is walked”). Leadership
is accepted on all levels. Problems that emerge are consequently translated into pos-
sibilities and actions for improvement. CARE has a history of setting up shared
learning and developmental practices on all organizational levels as enactment of a
strong organizational value, stressed continuously: “Personal development is orga-
nizational development and vice versa. The overall mutual perception of relation-
ships and intentions is, “We are here to help each other to develop and in doing so,
we simultaneously develop our organization. Finally, in CARE, explicit attention is
given to assembling relational practices, whereas in CONSULT, the relational prac-
tices are set up, stand alone, and fade away.
The embeddedness of the relational practices in these different contextual fea-
tures explains why the change processes of CARE and CONSULT are experienced
so differently and seen by the actors as being respectively successful and unsuc-
cessful. Similar observable interpersonal interaction qualities can thus have very dif-
ferent consequences on the change efforts, depending on the specific organizational
context. A relational practice intervention therefore will simultaneously enact these
contextual features into the ongoing change processes.
The main purpose of this article is to reconceptualize and to reframe the seminal
work of Schein on process consultation by introducing a relational practice perspec-
tive. Although Schein kept working on a revisited version, emphasizing the develop-
ment of a helping relationship as the necessary condition for in-depth organizational
change, process consultation had a hard time surviving the instrumental turn of orga-
nization development during the seventies and eighties. The authors of this article
nevertheless kept practicing the process consultation principles in intensive experi-
ential group training sessions and organizational change work.
tional work in context can constitute a new grounding in the concept of relational prac-
tice. Social–relational constructionism goes beyond an objectified view on organizations
and considers embodied relationships as the building blocks of all organizing work. The
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emphasis is on “the doing” and the enacting simultaneously of meaning and membership
in a community of practice. Through stressing practices among the actors, the context is
also involved in the interaction. The consultant as an active practitioner is engaging and
inviting other actors in high-quality relational practices to reconstruct or to re-create
jointly a new social reality. A relational practice perspective goes beyond the mainly
cognitive–interpretative work of negotiating a helping relationship, toward the mutual
engagement of participating actors in high-quality relationships.
These particular qualities of relational practices are discussed, illustrated, and dis-
tinguished from process consultation as practices for creating co-ownership and
testable transparency of ongoing joint developmental activities.
Two organizational change case studies have illustrated the relational practice
perspective throughout the interventions in a health care organization and a consult-
ing firm. Interventions as relational practices were introduced in both contexts and
were reported based on participant observations. Similar high-quality relational
practices, when looking at the here-and-now concrete interventions and interaction
characteristics, were set up to enact the change processes of the two organizations.
However, the concrete context-bounded actualization and assembling of the rela-
tional practices and consequently the longer term outcomes on the change processes
were very different in both cases as reported during debriefing interviews. Although
a high interactional quality of relational practices constituted the essence of key
interventions in both contexts, the effects on the change process were quite different.
In the health care organization, the relational practices for change were congruent
with existing organizational practices. In the consulting organization, the relational
practice interventions had difficulties connecting with the dominant way of working.
The context specificity was not embodied enough in the change practices of the con-
sulting firm, resulting in an unsuccessful change process.
The contribution of this article is to offer a new theoretical and practical ground-
ing of Schein’s seminal ideas on process consultation. There is, in present-day orga-
nizations, a high need for relational work internally with collaborating units and
externally with a variety of stakeholders. A relational practice perspective may open
new possibilities to connect consulting interventions with a turbulent and complex
organizational context. The contextual demands and specificities have to be inte-
grated adequately in the design and enactment of the relational practice interven-
tions. The boundary management of a change project or a training program may be
a critical task to connect the changing part of a system with the broader environment.
This bounding among internal and critical external stakeholders may be designed
and enacted in proper relational practices among the interfacing agents. If organiza-
tional consultation work can take the practical turn and the relational turn that we
concretized in the relational practice perspective, then there may be a future for
process consultation in the highly interactive and interdependent world of present-
day organizations.
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Frank Lambrechts is an assistant professor of Business Economics in the Institute for Entrepreneurship
and Innovation, Hasselt University, Diepenbeek, Belgium.
Styn Grieten is an assistant professor of Applied Economics in the Center for Corporate Sustainability,
HUBrussel, Brussels, Belgium.
René Bouwen is a full professor emeritus of Work and Organizational Psychology in the University of
Leuven, Belgium.
Felix Corthouts is a full professor emeritus of Business Economics, Work and Organizational
Psychology, in Hasselt University, Diepenbeek, Belgium.
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... Because of this entitative view, family business research and practice essentially overlook ongoing relational practices or ways of relating (Bouwen, 2001(Bouwen, , 2010Hosking, 2011Hosking, , 2016Lambrechts et al., 2009) that co-construct self and other, person and world, and relations as local relational realities or "forms of life," always in the making (Dachler & Hosking, 1995;Hosking, 2011). However, centering relational practices, relational realities they make, and what these relational practices/realities "constrain and potentiate, and how we might "go on together" (Wittgenstein, 1953) to 'live a good life'" (McNamee, 2009;McNamee & Hosking, 2012, p. xv), is critical in the family business domain for several reasons. ...
... Indeed, some relational practices can construct stuckness in world/organization and relations making in terms of disconnecting, disengaging, energy-draining ways of relating, closing new possibilities for jointly moving forward. Or conversely, some relational practices can generate productive flow in the sense of connecting, engaging, energygiving ways of relating, opening up new possibilities to go on together (Bouwen & Hosking, 2000;Camargo-Borges & Rasera, 2013;Gergen, 2009;Hosking, 2011Hosking, , 2016Lambrechts et al., 2009;Shotter, 1993Shotter, , 2004. Therefore, family business researchers and practitioners interested in family business organizing/making (in contrast to the family business) and (facilitating or opening up) transformative possibilities must understand how relational practices are more likely to construct stuckness or productive flow. ...
... This study's main contribution is developing and extending a relational practice perspective grounded in relational constructionism (Bouwen, 2001(Bouwen, , 2010Gergen, 1994Gergen, , 2009Hosking, 2011;Hosking & Morley, 1991;Lambrechts et al., 2009;McNamee & Hosking, 2012;Shotter, 1993Shotter, , 2012a and highlighting the strengths of relational practice research in opening up new avenues for empirical and practical understanding. It is an alternative to the entitative view dominating family business literature. ...
Full-text available
This study focuses on family owner-nonfamily CEO relational practices and what these relational practices constrain and potentiate in family firm CEO succession. Our main contribution is developing a constructionist relational practice perspective and approach as an alternative to the entitative view that dominates the family business literature. We illustrate the relational practice perspective through our dialogically structured inquiries with family owners and nonfamily CEOs. We co-develop practical wisdom on how family owner-nonfamily CEO relational practices can construct stuckness in organizing or, conversely, open up new possibilities to go on depending on (i) the way the family owner and nonfamily CEO "handle" equivocality and tension they continuously (re)produce through their relational practices and (ii) the way they enact "relational balancing" to equilibrate their relation in the making in terms of value/self-worth maintenance by involving other actors, such as board members, management team members, or a coach.
... This phase, which played the main role in the research project, was integrated into a framework of participatory data coconstruction, following process consultation perspective (Schein, 1998), to actively involve participants. A key element for the research method was the constructionist approach (Lambrechts et al., 2009): great attention was placed on using dialog to reconstruct the network of shared meanings that give shape to organizational reality. These meanings are used to understand the current situation within the organization as well as the chain of events that led to the present. ...
... These meanings are used to understand the current situation within the organization as well as the chain of events that led to the present. The application of this approach is fundamental to immersion in the organizational context and to foster the emergence of shared representations (Lambrechts et al., 2009). ...
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Purpose. Higher education (HE) institutions can play a fundamental role in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. However, universities often face various obstacles to sustainability management, leading to a lack of strategies for implementing governance for sustainability (GFS). The purpose of this paper is to propose a model, based on work and organizational psychology (WOP), for the analysis, promotion and implementation of GFS in HE. The model includes five dimensions: culture, leadership, teamwork, communication and transition management. Design/methodology/approach. Using a mixed methods approach, GFS was investigated in four Piedmontese (Northern Italy) universities and in their sustainability network, applying the model proposed in this paper. Findings. The five dimensions of the model have proven to be fundamental to the development of GFS in HE. Each dimension was filled with experiences from specific contexts through data collection, highlighting specificities and barriers. Furthermore, the mixed methods approach and the WOP perspective proved to be effective in addressing sustainable transitions in HE. Originality/value. A practical proposal for analyzing and improving HE sustainable transitions in a WOP perspective is still missing, as well as a model that identifies organizational dimensions that should be monitored. This study not only provides an example of this transition but also confirms the importance that the literature attributes to the specificities and barriers of dimensions such as culture, leadership, teamwork, communication and transition management in this context.
... However, to open up their boundaries, family firms must be not only willing but also able (De Massis et al., 2014). Challenging and transforming boundaries to work with emerging differences, similarities, and connections (Glimmerveen et al., 2020) rest on the ability of the entrepreneurial family and the family firm to build and nurture high-quality relationships (Lambrechts and Gnan, 2022;Lambrechts et al., 2009) that shape "trust, mutuality and joint learning" with collaboration partners (Senge et al., 2007, p. 47). Social capital resources indeed stem from highquality interpersonal relationships (Anderson et al., 2018;Bolino et al., 2002;Lambrechts et al., 2009). ...
... Challenging and transforming boundaries to work with emerging differences, similarities, and connections (Glimmerveen et al., 2020) rest on the ability of the entrepreneurial family and the family firm to build and nurture high-quality relationships (Lambrechts and Gnan, 2022;Lambrechts et al., 2009) that shape "trust, mutuality and joint learning" with collaboration partners (Senge et al., 2007, p. 47). Social capital resources indeed stem from highquality interpersonal relationships (Anderson et al., 2018;Bolino et al., 2002;Lambrechts et al., 2009). In general, family firms, because of their long-term orientation, are able to build close internal communities and enduring external connections with outside parties (Huybrechts et al., 2011;Miller and Le Breton-Miller, 2005;Miller et al., 2009), which result in higher embeddedness in local communities (De Massis et al., 2018a). ...
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Plain English Summary Openness as boundary work is a significant challenge for many family firms but is critically important in an increasingly complex business environment. We develop a generative framework and future research agenda. Our main implications are for (1) research: our conceptual framework on openness as boundary work and the research questions we put forward as a critical future research agenda open up many possibilities for further developing meaningful and useful theory on openness, boundaries, and boundary work in family firms and entrepreneurial families; (2) practice: we help family firms, entrepreneurial families, and family business advisors better understand the dynamics, complexities, and consequences of openness to make more informed boundary decisions; and (3) society: when family firms open up their boundaries, not only can they create more opportunities for other societal actors, but they can also generate more value than they can do alone.
... Whether dialogic OD will succeed or not depends on how OD consultants can effectively address the political power of an individual or a group and seek to uncover marginalized or silenced voices through high-quality relational practices (Lambrechts et al., 2009). The above-discussed action items will help organizational leaders, HRD practitioners and those with various forms of privileges in organizations to be more intentional and systemic in providing ways for the expression of the whole selves of individuals who may have been socialized to conform to the norms and values of dominant groups and thus excluded from the mainstream discourse. ...
Purpose The purpose of this paper is to propose a conceptual framework for practicing inclusive dialogic organization development (OD). Design/methodology/approach This paper reviews and presents Robert Kegan’s theory and practice of deliberately developmental organization as an exemplary model for dialogic OD. Findings The paper suggests three conditions to make the constantly emerging organizational reality socially just, equitable and inclusive – whole self, psychological safety and leader vulnerability. Originality/value The originality of this paper lies in making explicit issues of power in dialogic OD literature and providing implications for human resource development on how to lead and develop organizations inclusively in times of uncertainty and complexity.
... According to Khan (1998) and empirically supported by Ehrhardt and Ragins (2019), the better a positive workplace relationship, the stronger individuals are attached to their colleagues and the organisation, making their presence felt and achieving more remarkable results. Stronger relational attachment enables owner-managers and employees to interact better and honestly, induces mutual support and promotes cooperative work attitudes (Lambrechts et al., 2009). Thus, "employees extrapolate their attachment to others at work into feelings of attachment with the organisation itself" (Ehrhardt and Ragins, 2019, p.14). ...
Purpose Grounded on trait activation and social learning theories, this study aims to examine the effects of bottom-line mentality (BLM) and perceived abusive supervisory behaviour on proactive employee work behaviour and employee bottom-line mentality (EBLM) in micro-, small- and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) in Ghana. The moderating effects of relational attachment on how abusive supervisory behaviour relates to employee proactive work behaviour (PWB) and BLM were examined. Design/methodology/approach The study was based on a quantitative approach. An online questionnaire was used in a cross-sectional survey to elicit data from 643 conveniently sampled employees. Structural equation modelling was used to analyse the data. Findings The results support the proposition that owner-manager bottom-line mentality (OMBLM) positively and significantly predicts abusive supervision. The findings also revealed that owner-manager abusive supervisory behaviour significantly predicts employee PWB and EBLM. While the moderating effect of relational attachment on the relationship between perceived owner-manager abusive supervisory behaviour and EBLM is positive and significant, its effect on perceived owner-manager abusive supervisory and proactive employee work behaviour relationship was positive but insignificant. Originality/value The authors studied owner-manager abusive supervisory behaviour to understand how OMBLM relates to proactive employee work behaviour and EBLM among MSMEs in Ghana. The study sets the tone to investigate further the impact of OMBLM and the functional effect of owner-manager abusive supervisory behaviour on manager–employee relationships and outcomes among MSMEs in emerging economies.
... Para López (2016), la asesoría es un servicio que ofrece un consejo o dictamen sobre aspectos que el decisor no maneja a profundidad. Los decisores policiales tienen idea de las situaciones o problemas a resolver, no obstante, reclaman del asesor la experiencia porque permite el intercambio de conocimiento y genera confianza para tomar decisiones de manera conjunta (Lambrechts et al., 2009). De esta forma, quien ha vivido o enfrentado el problema es convocado para asesorar e incidir en la toma de decisiones. ...
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Este documento presenta una aproximación al bucle decisional policial con sus características y atributos. Presta especial atención al asesoramiento para la toma de decisiones policiales e indaga sobre los niveles de Gestión Decisional Policial –GDP–. Se presentan los resultados de un estudio exploratorio y cualitativo que corresponde a una fase de la investigación “Gestión Decisional Policial”. Por otro lado, se aplicó el método de sistematización de experiencias y la entrevista semiestructurada como técnica de recolección; de igual forma, se empleó la observación no participante para complementar la visión de los entrevistados. De esta manera, se realizaron veinte entrevistas semiestructuradas a comandantes policiales que integran la pirámide de responsabilidades en la ejecución del Modelo Nacional de Vigilancia Comunitaria por Cuadrantes –MNVCC–. El resultado principal de la investigación es que la GDP compromete a los policías indistintamente de la posición jerárquica en la que se encuentren y obedece a un modelo implícito no declarado. Se concluye la necesidad de construir una visión conjunta sobre la toma de decisiones policiales mediante el estudio de otras unidades policiales para mejorar la propia práctica.
... Or TMT members can fill out a survey that indicates their satisfaction with the CEO, which can then be discussed in the entire TMT. The CEO and the other TMT members may find it helpful to be assisted by an external facilitator who can facilitate the process of the conversation so that team members learn to do this better themselves in the future (Lambrechts et al., 2009). The fact that a CEO is willing to participate in such initiatives sends a strong indirect positive signal to the other TMT members, which in itself will also help to create a more open, positive team climate in which emotions can be discussed openly. ...
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This article studies the impact of emotional dissonance experienced in interactions with the CEO on affective organizational commitment in family firm top management teams. We argue that this relationship will be mediated by the level of satisfaction with the CEO. Additionally, we propose that CEO ownership will have a moderating effect. Using a multiple-respondent dataset of 212 top managers from 45 family firms, we find that emotional dissonance leads to less satisfaction with the CEO, influencing the level of affective organizational commitment. This relationship is even stronger if the CEO has a high degree of ownership power.
Three core ideas are at the heart of this book: relational expertise, the capacity to interpret problems with others; common knowledge, which consists of knowing what matters for professionals in other practices; and relational agency, which involves using that common knowledge to take action with others. These ideas are based in cultural-historical approaches to learning and change, and give coherence to the arguments presented. This is not a recipe book; the ideas are offered as resources for reflecting on and developing professional and research practices, and the conditions in which they occur.
In this concluding article we further reflect on relational readings of organizational learning and how they can contribute to organization studies and organizing practices. As has been seen, the root metaphor of "organizational learning" takes a variety of forms. These include "product-oriented" pictures such as learning curves, strategy, and business processes, and the generative metaphor of organizational learning as conversations-for-new-possibilities. This special issue highlights the contribution of learning-as-conversations, especially in those organizational instances where the organizing is "in-the-making" and where the creation of a transitional space can be a new meeting ground for participants. In an increasingly globalized world we are more and more in need of the ability to construct such transitional and possibility-enabling practices. It can be a task of work and organizational psychology to contribute ideas and practices for this endeavour.
In this article we describe a set of methods — which we call a 'social poetics ' —for use by a group of practitioners in coming to a more articulate grasp of their own practices, thus to develop them. Crucially influenced by Wittgenstein 's (1953) claims — that "Nothing is hidden" from us in our conduct of our practices, and that "the origin and primitive form of the language-game is a reaction " — we show how the methods of philosophical investigation he outlines can also be used to great effect in our everyday affairs. They work, not in terms of concepts or theories worked out ahead of time in committee rooms or research laboratories by experts, but in terms of certain practical uses of language, at crucial points within the ongoing conduct of a practice, by those involved in it. Crucially, they lead us to focus on novelties, on new but unnoticed possibilities for 'going on' available to us in our present circumstances, but present to us usually in only fleeting moments. If we can allow ourselves to be 'struck by' these novelties, then we can often go on, not to solve what had been seen as a problem, but to develop new ways forward, in which the old problems become irrelevant.