[We’re pleased to welcome author David Coghlan of the University of Dublin Trinity. Dr. Coghlan recently published an article in the Journal of Applied Behavioral Science entitled “Edgar Schein at 90: A Celebratory and Exploratory Metalogue,” which is currently free to read for a limited time. Below, Dr. Coghlan briefly describes the motivation for writing this article and the themes in the article.
On the occasion of Edgar H. Schein’s 90th birthday, we are acknowledging this occasion not only for Schein himself but for the field of applied behavioral science of organization development (OD). For sixty years he has creatively and systematically shaped theory and practice and he continues to be creative and reflective about the field and his work in it. In this article here Schein and I engage in a metalogue about our shared scholarship. A metalogue is a form of reflective dialogue where the mode of conversation reflects the topic being explored. Our aim is both celebratory and informative, with the latter seeking to offer JABS readers insights from our metalogue on how we engage as scholars.
Schein’s work has both informed and shaped both my philosophy of organization development (OD) and my teaching and practice over forty years. As I reflect on how Schein’s work has informed my own OD scholarship, three themes are clear to me and it is these that I explore in a metalogue with him. These three themes are: i) how OD scholars may draw on the data of their own thinking, what I call interiority, ii) how OD may ground itself in a philosophy of practical knowing, and iii) how engaging in OD involves OD scholars to be attentive in the present tense. These themes have emerged from my reflection on my work and I have published on them. I lay their foundations firmly in how I have learned from Schein, even though he does not use the terminology that I am using. In this article I introduce each of the three themes and engage Schein in a reflective dialogue on each one. The mode of presentation is direct first-and second-person speech, where I address him and invite him to reflect on what I have written and he responds. Finally we reflect on the metalogue process itself.
The aim of the article is celebratory and exploratory. In terms of the former marking Schein’s 90th birthday acknowledges his massive contribution to the field of applied behavioral science. In terms of the latter the engagement in a reflective dialogue on how his work has influenced me and seeks to stimulate further reflection on some core issues in the field of OD.
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