[We’re pleased to welcome Seth A. Jacobson, Jamie L. Callahan, and Rajashi Ghosh, all of Drexel University. They recently discussed their article entitled “A Place at the Window: Theorizing Organizational Change for Advocacy of the Marginalized” in the latest podcast from Human Resource Development Review.]
The broader aim of our work is to theorize organizational change that emphasizes the role of the marginalized. Each of us has an interest in organizational change, and the critical perspective associated with marginalized groups resonated strongly with us as well. The interests of the first author, however, formed the context that gave voice to our collective interest—The Roman Catholic Church, the LGBT community, and the influence of Pope Francis.
Author Seth Jacobson is a gay active Catholic within the Church. The changing rhetoric and tone of Pope Francis on topics related to homosexuality were encouraging to him; but he recognized that those on the front lines of working toward LGBT-friendly changes were still often marginalized. Those individuals were not central to the power structures in the Catholic Church and, while they had meaningful and important roles to play in informing change, their voices were potentially ignored or unnoticed. Seth’s goal, with the support of co-authors Jamie Callahan and Rajashi Ghosh, was to find a more theoretical and systematic way of ensuring that, when we research and seek to understand change processes, we are not neglecting the critical work of the marginalized.
Their work challenges traditional notions of what constitutes an ‘organization’ and opens the door for more explorations of HRD in non-traditional organizations. Following Callahan’s earlier work on social movements as a site for HRD engagement, this work addresses a case of the Roman Catholic Church as a trans-national organization influenced by global social movements advocating for equity of the marginalized. The influence that is manifesting appears to be strengthened by those who have the privilege of ‘insider’ status (resource prototypic, as described in the article) and who empathize with the marginalized (schematically marginal). These individuals think differently than other dominant actors, and yet they have access to the resources of those who hold a ‘place at the table.’ They are able to serve as conduits between the place at the window of the marginalized and the place at the window of the privileged; how they adopt this identity and enact this role is important for progressing our understanding of the marginalized in organizational change processes.
This work is grounded in the concepts of social responsibility and critical theory. It is about challenging and deconstructing a change perspective that largely ignores or under-theorizes the role that marginalized actors can play in advancing change. Change is typically addressed from the perspective of those who hold a place at the traditional ‘table’. However, our approach here recognizes and affirms that marginalized actors have advanced (and can continue to do so) meaningful and significant change from their seemingly constrained positions; in other words, they advance change from a place at the ‘window.’
The window as a metaphor inspires the notion of standing outside, and away from, the core power structures of the organization. And, yet, windows are transparent barriers that can open and provide an opportunity for bounded exchange between the core and the margins. This notion inspired our title, “A Place at the Window: Theorizing Organizational Change for Advocacy of the Marginalized.”
Click here to download the podcast on “A Place at the Window: Theorizing Organizational Change for Advocacy of the Marginalized” from Human Resource Development Review. You can also read the article for free by clicking here.
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Jamie L. Callahan is Professor and Program Director of the Human Resource Development Program at Drexel University. Her research applies concepts of learning and development to explore issues of power and privilege in relation to leadership, emotion management and organization contextual issues (e.g., organizational learning, organizational culture, communities of practice).
Rajashi Ghosh is an Associate Professor in the HRD program in the School of Education at Drexel University. Her research aims to explore different factors (e.g., mentoring, coaching, workplace incivility) that can reinforce or hinder workplace learning and development.