Edgar Schein at 90: A Celebratory and Exploratory Metalogue

[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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Beyond Developmental: The Decision-Making Applications of Personality Tests

5529311561_4ba9be7419_zThe use of personality assessments in organizations has often been limited to developmental applications. However, growing support for data-driven decision-making in recent years has made it apparent that personality assessments could also become a resource for talent management decisions. In a recent paper from Journal of Applied Behavioral Science entitled “Does Purpose Matter? The Stability of Personality Assessments in Organization Development and Talent Management Applications Over Time”, authors Allan H. Church, Christina R. Fleck, Garett C. Foster, Rebecca C. Levine, Felix J. Lopez, and Christopher T. Rotolo investigate the consistency of personality data over time and whether the changing application of personality assessments changes their validity. The abstract for the paper:

Personality assessment has a long history of application in the workplace. While the field of organization development has historically focused on developmental aspects of personality tools, other disciplines such as industrial-organizational psychology have emphasized its psychometric properties. The importance of data-driven insights for talent management (e.g., the identification of high potentials, succession Current Issue Coverplanning, coaching), however, is placing increasing pressure on all types of applied behavioral scientists to better understand the stability of personality tools for decision-making purposes. The current study presents research conducted with 207 senior leaders in a global consumer products organization on the use of personality assessment data over time and across two different conditions: development only and development to decision making. Results using three different tools (based on the Hogan Assessment Suite) indicate that core personality and personality derailers are generally not affected by the purpose of the assessment, though derailers do tend to moderate over time. The manifestation of values, motives, and preferences were found to change across administrations. Implications for organizational development and talent management applications are discussed.

You can read the paper, “Does Purpose Matter? The Stability of Personality Assessments in Organization Development and Talent Management Applications Over Time,” from Journal of Applied Behavioral Science free for the next two weeks by clicking here. Want to stay current on all of the latest research published by Journal of Applied Behavioral ScienceClick here to sign up for e-alerts!

*Image attributed to Service Design Berlin (CC)

New Podcast: Tomika Greer on Using HRD to Support Repatriates

Podcast MicrophoneIn the latest podcast from Human Resource Development Review, Tomika Greer of University of Houston discusses the article she co-authored with Alexandra Stiles of Shell Oil Company, entitled “Using HRD to Support Repatriates: A Framework for Creating an Organization Development Strategy for Repatriation,” which was recently published in the March 2016 issue of Human Resource Development Review.

You can find the podcast on the Human Resource Development Review website here, or click here to download the podcast. You can also read the full article free for the next two weeks by clicking here.

The abstract from the paper:

A systematic review of repatriation literature in human resource development (HRD) HRDjournals reveals common themes of low motivation to repatriate among expatriates and high rates of repatriation failure in organizations. In addition, there is a gap in the published research regarding organization development (OD), suggesting that there is a need to look more closely at managing the changes for individuals, teams, and organizations associated with repatriation. In this article, we addressed this literature gap by proposing a framework for creating an OD strategy for repatriation. This framework is useful for HRD instructors, trainers, and other practitioners who are tasked with creating and instructing others on how to create an OD strategy for repatriation. Such a strategy could help improve repatriation motivation and decrease repatriation failure, ultimately improving organizational performance. The proposed framework was adapted from a positive model of planned change and focuses on discovering, examining, and capitalizing on previous organizational successes to positively impact the repatriation process.

Want to hear more podcast like this? Click here to browse more podcasts from Human Resource Development Review, and here to subscribe to the SAGE Management and Business podcast channel on iTunes. You can also sign up for e-alerts and get notifications of all the latest research from Human Resource Development Review sent directly to your inbox!


 Tomika W. Greer, PhD is visiting assistant professor of Human Resource Development in the College of Technology at the University of Houston. She has previously presented and published research related to trends and challenges associated with career development for women and implementation/outcomes of “family-friendly” organizational policies and programs. Her work appears in journals including Human Resource Development Review, New Horizons in Adult Education & Human Resource Development, and The Psychologist-Manager Journal.

Jean Bartunek on Academic-Practitioner Relationships

Jean Bartunek looks at academic-practitioner relationships over the last 50 years and discusses some opportunities going forward in her article “Academic–Practitioner Relationships: What NTL Started and What Management Scholarship Keeps Developing” from  the Journal of Applied Behavioral Science.

The abstract:

At the time the Journal of Applied Behavioral Science (JABS) began publishing 50 years ago, much social science scholarship took the form of basic research, with relatively little attention to practice. JABS_v50_72ppiRGB_powerpointThanks to the impetus of Kurt Lewin and the National Training Laboratories, the focus of JABS was much more on relationships between theory and practice than was most other scholarship; the expectation was that JABS would focus on scholarly knowledge that would also inform practice. Over the course of the past half century, however, there has taken place some separation of academic scholarship and practice with regard to organization development. During this same time period there have been several developments in other areas of management inquiry in which academic–practitioner links have been fostered. In this article, I will explore the patterns that have occurred, indicate some questions they raise for JABS going forward, and suggest some possible implications for publishing practice in JABS. These implications include both communication issues with regard to publishing and substantive issues regarding what “counts” as organization development.

You can read “Academic–Practitioner Relationships: What NTL Started and What Management Scholarship Keeps Developing” from  the Journal of Applied Behavioral Science for free by clicking here. Don’t forget to sign up for e-alerts to get all the latest news and research from the Journal of Applied Behavioral Science!

Life Is Different For Engaged Employees

Editor’s note: We are pleased to welcome Professor Brad Shuck of the University of Louisville. His paper “Employee Engagement and Well-Being: A Moderation Model and Implications for Practice,” co-authored by Professor Thomas G. Reio Jr. of Florida International University, is forthcoming in the Journal of Leadership & Organizational Studies and now available in OnlineFirst.

pullquoteThe study of employee engagement is a very personal topic for me. Early in my professional career, I knew this was something I wanted to know more about because I had experienced environments that were less than engaging. These were places of work where I wanted to give, but that ultimately felt constrained and unsafe. Being engaged meant being exposed. What I find as I talk to people about our research is that they have also experienced workplace environments that were less than engaging, or they know someone who has. Moreover, no one tells a positive story about being disengaged in their work, but a lot of people can recall really significant events in their professional lives where they were fully engaged in their work. These events were transformational at times (but not always), and often recalled with positive memories of doing something remarkable and working with others to get there. They were fulfilled and reported experiencing life during those times a little differently. So, ultimately my interest in engagement was to find ways that help employees live better lives in their work; at the core of my research is the belief that employees who experience high levels of engagement in their work also experience life fundamentally differently from those who cannot say they are engaged. I have personally and professionally seen this time and time again, and the research in this field would support that. There is still much more to uncover, but we are making progress.

JLOS_72ppiRGB_powerpointI think many might suspect the important role of workplace climate in the engagement-outcomes question, but the significance of the findings were somewhat surprising. It was surprising to us that the context of work from an individual, personal perspective would have such significant effects across each of the models. We also really wondered whether or not engagement would affect people beyond the traditional areas of performance so often examined. What we found was fairly significant to us – that employees who reported higher levels of engagement were also more likely to report lower levels of emotional exhaustion and depersonalization and higher levels of personal accomplishment with their work, as well as increased levels of psychological wellbeing. This was all in the context of Fredrickson’s Broaden-and-Build Theory. Important to us was that results suggested there was a distinct personal psychological benefit for working fully engaged and a personal, individual psychological cost for being disengaged. I think this has implications for all of us in many areas of our lives.

The first way we see the extending of future research and practice was the use of non-traditional measures of engagement and psychological wellbeing in this study. The field has been so dominated by just a few voices and this research provides alternate avenues for scholars and practitioners. The dominate voices have so much to offer, but we maintain that advancing research means moving forward and hearing everyone. We knew this was risky in our study, and likely to create some challenge later, but forging new perspectives is rarely an easy task. To be sure, we did not forge these paths, but rather used the scholarship of others who did (and continue to do so) and tried to lift it up. As the old saying goes, a rising tide lifts all boats.

A second area we hoped to influence was to add to the growing conversation about how the experience of engagement effects human beings. We know engagement is good for organizations. This seems clear, but what we do not know much about is the cost or benefit of being engaged from the standpoint of the employee and their well being. We really wondered, “is engagement as good for employees as it is for the organizations they work for?” Hopefully, this paper contributes to that conversation in some small way.

A final area we hoped this study that could influence practice was the training of leaders and those who can influence the psychological climate of the workplace. Clearly, this is a place of development for many. As we mentioned in the article, it seems unlikely and counterintuitive to theory that moments of engagement, which lead to higher levels of employee wellbeing, would develop in negative climates. Thus, a very practical implication of this study concerns the purposeful development of psychologically positive workplace cultures as a means to impact how employees experience and interpret their work. We must work at this and develop very practical solutions that are grounded in sound theory are relevant research.

Read the paper, “Employee Engagement and Well-Being: A Moderation Model and Implications for Practice,” online in the Journal of Leadership & Organizational Studies.

shuck-lgBrad Shuck is Assistant Professor, Workforce & Human Resource Education at the University of Louisville and a past University Graduate School Fellow at Florida International University. In his role at the University of Louisville, he is engaged in research that examines the emotional and behavioral manifestation of employee engagement and emerging instructional design techniques for adult learners. He has extensive corporate and nonprofit experience with conceptualizing the drivers of engagement, measuring engagement, and designing practical strategies to enhance workplace learning and culture. His work has appeared in publications such as Human Resource Development Review, the International Journal of Small Business, the Journal of Genetic Psychology, the Journal of Management Development, and the Journal of European Industrial Training, among others.

The Role of the Arts in Organizational Settings

What if an artist ran your company?

In an effort to determine what benefit organizations and practitioners can gain from the arts, this article examines song lyrics, drama scripts, and poems in the context of organizational development, with some useful implications for those seeking innovative approaches to business strategy. Oranuch Pruetipibultham of the University of Minnesota and Gary N. Mclean of Texas A&M University published “The Role of the Arts in Organizational Settings” in Volume 9, Issue 1 (March 2010) of Human Resource Development Review. An excerpt:

HRDR_72ppiRGB_150pixWNissley (2007) held that successful organizations have effective leaders who focus on the process of generating possibilities—thinking of new things and seeing existing
things in different ways. Therefore, we believe that it is worthwhile to explore the dynamics of narrative or storytelling (these two words are used interchangeably in
this article) and investigate how music, drama, and poetry, as forms of storytelling, can help scholars and practitioners develop a better understanding of organizational culture, effective intervention methods, and ways to develop human resources in organizations.

Read “The Role of the Arts in Organizational Settings” in Human Resource Development Review. Would you like to receive customized alerts from the journal that provides new theoretical insights to advance our understanding of HRD? Then click here!

Workplace Violence

Martin B. Kormanik, O.D. Systems, published “Workplace Violence: Assessing Organizational Awareness and Planning Interventions” in the February 2011 issue of Advances in Developing Human Resources.

This article was announced in a SAGE press release on October 13th, 2011: “Taking Steps to Prevent ‘Going Postal’: Study helps guide companies HR practices to prevent workplace violence.

The Abstract:

The problem and the solution. Workplace violence is an extreme manifestation of escalated workplace incivility. Strategies for addressing workplace violence are generally proactive, focused on prevention and preparation, or reactive, focused on response to an incident. Before strategies are put in place, however, the complexity of the issue demands an organizational assessment so that chosen strategies have maximum benefit. Awareness development is a construct for analyzing cognitive and psychosocial growth in relation to a transitional issue, such as workplace violence, then planning interventions that support growth in relation to the transitional issue. This study shows that the use of the awareness development construct to examine individual employees’ perceptions regarding the transitional issue of workplace violence may serve as a practical measure for human resource development (HRD) practitioners to assess the organization and plan intervention strategies. Implications for theory and research are discussed.

For more information about Advances in Developing Human Resources, please click here.

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