Neelima Paranjpey on Problem-Solving and Appreciative Inquiry

[We’re pleased to welcome Neelima Paranjpey of Benedictine University. Dr. Paranjpey recently collaborated with Gervase R. Bushe of Simon Fraser University on their paper “Comparing the Generativity of Problem-Solving and Appreciative Inquiry: A Field Experiment” from the Journal of Applied Behavioral Science.]

When I was pursuing my PhD in Organization Development, I was very inquisitive about the Appreciative Inquiry process. For years, OD has JABS_72ppiRGB_powerpointfocused on a problem seeking approach and the positive approach to organization change made me curious about its application, whether it works, why it works, how we can improve its theory and application. When I read more I found that Appreciative Inquiry is more than just positive and that it changes organization’s mindset and increases employees capability for renewed social action.

I was working in a transit organization which was undergoing a significant change. The leaders had a desire to initiate an employee recognition program to increase morale in the organization. I used the employee recognition initiative as a basis to conduct my field experiment in appreciative inquiry. I was interested in understanding whether appreciative inquiry was more generative than problem solving. It was fascinating to lead the groups through the process. Participants were engaged in all the groups as this was the first time such an initiative was implemented in the organization. However, the ideas emerging from the appreciative inquiry sessions were much more interesting and applicable. This was apparent from not only the quantitative results, but even the qualitative open-ended questions asked during the focus groups corroborated the findings. The research has several implications to both academicians and practitioners. This is first time that generativity has been conceptualized and measured in appreciative inquiry. Also, given that a generative approach to appreciative inquiry results in compelling and practical ideas in a limited time frame and creates a more favorable mindset towards changes makes it an important study for organization leaders who are attempting to get real employee engagement in any change initiative.

You can read “Comparing the Generativity of Problem-Solving and Appreciative Inquiry: A Field Experiment” from the Journal of Applied Behavioral Science for free by clicking here. Don’t forget to sign up for e-alerts and get all the latest news and research from the Journal of Applied Behavioral Science sent directly to your inbox!

Questions? Comments? Feel free to contact Dr. Paranjpey at neelimaparanjpey<at>gmail<dot>com!

gervaseGervase Bushe is Professor of Leadership and Organization Development in the Beedie School of Business at Simon Fraser University. He has 30 years of experience in a wide range of organizational change and development projects and is internationally known for his expertise in appreciative inquiry, a method for transforming organizations by focusing on what works.

27fd91fNeelima Paranjpey, PhD is an experienced Talent Management and OD professional who specializes in providing positive change solutions to improve and grow organizations. She currently works with Vaya Group, Chicago as an Assessment & Development Consultant. She earned her PhD in Organization Development from Benedictine University and MS in I/O Psychology from Illinois Institute of Technology.

How to Make Collaborative Research Generative? Play the Cards!

(cc by alegri / alegriphotos.com)

(cc by alegri / alegriphotos.com)

[Editor’s Note: We are very excited to welcome Arne Carlsen as a guest editor of Management Ink. Dr. Carlsen collaborated with Gudrun Rudningen and Tord F. Mortensen on their article “Playing the cards. Using Collaborative Artifacts With Thin Categories to Make Research Co-Generative.”]

Are you looking for ways to make collaborative research more generative for both researchers and practitioners? Want to escape the rigor-relevance gap and more fully engage practitioners in theory building?

A recent paper suggests a surprisingly easy and effective way of accomplishing that: Try condensing your tentative findings into thin categories where you combine brief stories, definitions and evocative quotes from theory and practice with images. Then produce physical cards with such categories, drop the overarching model – and play the cards. These are the kinds of collaborative processes that are recently documented and reflected upon in the paper “Playing the cards. Using Collaborative Artifacts With Thin Categories to Make Research Co-Generative”, now online in Journal of Management Inquiry.

The authors explain how playing the cards led to a radical redefinition of the processes of collaborative research. One counter intuitive insight was that thinning of research findings resulted in thickness of joint interpretation. Another is that getting physical and visual was key to participation in theory building. A third was that recruiting practitioners into discovery and wonder are sometimes at least as relevant as pointing to immediate practical utility.

From the abstract:

How can collaborative artifacts mediate processes of researcher–practitioner interactions to make JMI_72ppiRGB_powerpointresearch more co-generative? Research on knowledge co-production has paid little attention to how joint theory building is socio-materially mediated and tends to downplay discovery and wonder as sources of generativity. This article provides an empirical investigation of the use of thin categories on hard-copy A5 cards, combining brief texts and images to communicate tentative theoretical categories and involve practitioners in theorizing. Playing these cards opened up a new discursive space in the dialogue, making it an event of tactile engagement, ludic interaction, and power symmetry. We discuss how the transformed dialogue can be understood as processes of (a) dealing–touching–receiving collaborative artifacts that invite participants into rating, comparing, and combining, and (b) thickening of thin categories by recognition/appropriation and expansion/search. The article implicates a new vocabulary for mediating collaborative research, combining visual and material elements with notions of social poetics.

Read “Playing the cards. Using Collaborative Artifacts With Thin Categories to Make Research Co-Generative” in Journal of Management Inquiry by clicking here. Make sure to sign up for e-alerts and stay up to date on all the latest articles from Journal of Management Inquiry by clicking here.