Coevolving Innovations

… in Business Organizations and Information Technologies

Trist in Canada, Organizational Change, Action Learning

Towards appreciating “action learning”, the history of open systems thinking and pioneering work in organization science, the influence of Action Learning Group — in the Faculty of Environment Studies founded in 1968 at York University (Toronto) — deserves to be resurfaced.

  • 1. Trist in Canada
  • 2. Environmental studies, and contextualism in organizational-change
  • 3. Action learning, based on open systems theory
  • 4. Extending action research into action learning
  • 5. Social engagement in social science
  • Appendix:  Contents

The 1989 book with “A Tribute to Eric Trist” on the cover was titled Learning Works: Searching for Organizational Futures.  The editors were Susan Wright, a part-time assistant professor at York U.; and David Morley, a professor in the Faculty of Environmental Studies at York U., who would become Dean of FES from 2001-2004.

Front cover: Learning Works

1. Trist in Canada

Eric Trist was a Professor of Organizational Behavior and Social Ecology at York University, 1978-1983, passing away in Carmel, California in 1993.  Systems scholars may better recall Trist as emeritus from the 1969-1978 program in the Social Systems Science program at University of Pennsylvania, that was founded by Russell Ackoff.

The preface to the book describes the origins of its writing.

This volume began life at a 1985 meeting of the York University Action Learning Group, a loose network of people who were participating in the development of a new framework for theorizing, studying, and participating in the creation of new organizational capacities and enabling strategies to operate within turbulent environments (one of Trist’s most important metaphors). Eric Trist’s presence at York University during the period 1977-85 had important effect on everyone at that meeting; he had, indeed, been instrumental in the creation of the group. His work at York came at the culmination of a long career that had included virtually continuous work in Canada since 1961. There was instant agreement that a book drawing on the current work of some of those with whom Trist had worked in Canada would be an excellent way of reflecting the admiration, gratitude, and affection we felt towards this man. For most of its rather long gestation period, the book was referred to as “Eric Trist in Canada,” and this is what it is — a reflection of the effect he had on this small part of his Canadian network of organizational change practitioners. But the book is also more than that. It is a reflection of the impact of someone who has frequently been recognized as a master “network builder.” Those of us represented in the book are only one example of Eric Trist’s many networks. The book is, therefore, not just a testimony to Trist’s Canadian work, but also to his unique capacity to express the meaning of his approach to organizations, communities, and their environments in his personal and working relationships-and thereby to extend the influence of his ideas far more widely than through the formal expression of his work. This capacity includes the ability to respect, as well as to encourage, those he works with. This quality is central to Trist’s theory of organizations and to the widespread work it has generated. [Morley 1989, pp. vii-viii]

The biography for Trist traces back to his graduating from Cambridge in 1931, spending 1933-1935 at Yale University as a Commonwealth Fund Fellow, and then teaching to Scotland before becoming a Rockefeller Research Fellow at University of London at the outbreak of WWII.  Most researchers would be familiar with Trist’s work with the Tavistock Institute.

In particular, Trist’s notable work as adviser in social psychology to the Civil Resettlement Scheme for Repatriated British Prisoners also provided him with the opportunity of exploring the self-help / participative processes that mark so much of his work. As a result of his wartime activities, he was awarded the OBE in 1946.

It was in the post-war period that Trist’s work and that of his close colleagues took the direction that has had such an influence on the field. As a member of a group of psychiatrists and psychologists who had worked together during the war, Trist became a founding member of the Tavistock Institute of Human Relations based in London. He ultimately became chairman and was a leading figure in the development of the institute’s particular style of applied social-science approach to organizations. Based on human-relations and action-research perspectives, this work throughout the 1940s and 1950s established the basis for an entire generation of organizational theory and practice. Trist’s pioneer work (based at the Tavistock Institute) on the British coal-mining industry had a particularly important effect. Key concepts emerging from this work included the socio-technical basis for analysing innovation in organizations and the associated concepts relating to autonomous work groups that were to form the basis of the future quality-of-working-life (QWL) approach. In Trist’s words, this “new field of inquiry” led to the extension of the application of action-research methods beyond primary work systems within individual organizations towards the scale of “whole organizational systems” and “macro-social” contexts. [Morley 1989, p. ix]

Through field work, Trist was at the Center for Advanced Study in Behavioral Sciences in California in 1980-1981, and later joined the School of Management at UCLA. His networks extended throughout North America.

It is from this period in the early 1960s that Eric’s close Canadian connections began to be formed and were soon to draw him into what he has described as his “love affair” with Canada. Typically, Trist’s telling of the story of this growing engagement with Canada in the 1960s and 1970s is built around his contacts with Canadians working in fields of special interest to him. His stories of visits to British Columbia, Ottawa, and the Gaspé are told around the cast of characters that he met and taught and learned from. After he moved to the University of Pennsylvania in 1958 to help create an interdisciplinary doctoral degree in Social Systems Sciences, the Canadian contacts became more numerous and the work more varied. Extensive work with Alcan and close involvement with the introduction of QWL into Canada involved him in field projects, design activities, conferences, and workshops throughout the country. This was a period in which Trist’s work explored the implications of the character and impact of the “turbulence” within contextual environments and its significance for organizational management. The way in which these ideas generated a new cycle of innovative activity culminating in his concept of “organizational ecology” is constantly referred to in this book. Increasingly, Canada became an important context in which these ideas were developed and worked out.

It was also during the late 1950s and early 1970s that Trist met and began work with members of the Faculty of Environmental Studies at York University in Toronto, including several of the contributors to this book. The closeness of this relationship can be measured by the fact that on his retirement from the University of Pennsylvania in 1978, Eric became professor of Organizational Behaviour and Social Ecology in this York University graduate faculty, which — in its use of a holistic framework for “studying environmentally” — provided a setting into which Eric fitted with ease. This fifth decade of Trist’s academic and professional career has resulted in an amazing wealth of activities: the continuation of his QWL work throughout the country; his focus on community-based development (to the previous Jamestown, New York, and Craigmillar, Scotland, examples were added Sudbury, Ontario, and Cape Breton, Nova Scotia); new teaching ventures including the re-examination of earlier concepts in “management in turbulent environments”; the extension of the search-conference idea through its application in Canada and the third world; and the emergence of the action-learning style of action research. As late as his last full-time teaching years at York (1984 and 1985), Eric was introducing an entirely new course for him and the faculty on the study of the future.

Giving the closing address at the second conference of the International Council for the Quality of Working Life in Toronto in 1981, Trist was urging the rethinking of QWL in the light of growing unemployment, the redefinition of work, and the impact of the microprocessor revolution. At Orillia, Ontario, in October 1985 at the Explorations in Human Futures conference held in his honour, Eric Trist was again challenging his audience with reflections on the “dark side,” the “destructive side of the human species.” In these and other instances, Trist was demonstrating his remarkable capacity to provide us with a critical role model for this field. [Morley 1989, p. x]

Back cover: Learning Works

The contributors to the book are appended to a table of contents at the bottom of this digest.

2. Environmental studies, and contextualism in organizational-change

From the third section on “Transitions to Action Learning”, the chapter by David Morley summarizes much of the research that was ongoing through the mid to late 1980s.

While some readers might prefer to jump directly to the next section on action learning, many will benefit by reading first about the historical context.

When asked if there’s a university “systems” program in Canada, I point to the Faculty of Environmental Studies at York University, saying that it might be clearer to outsiders if it had been named the Faculty of Systems Studies.  The “Environmental Studies” may easily be confused with environmental science, and should be understood as a reflection of “system and environment”.  In tracing the legacy of action learning, the emphasis coming from outside the system, rather than inside, becomes clearer.  The dominance of research on organizational change with systems seen inwardly-focused was challenged by a “global context” — the environment — with the rise of information and communications technologies.  The late 1980s period is marked by the rise of personal computing, with another decade before the Internet would take off.

Those of us working in the organizational-change tradition, which has its origins in the decades immediately following the Second World War, stand in considerable awe of the reputations of the first generation of practitioners that effectively created the field. […]

The underlying propositions of this field relate to the need for continuing adaptation and learning among the actors in organizational settings set within constantly changing and uncertain environments. [….]

Although this individual and collective learning approach to the social organization as environment has always been central to the organizational-change field, a more general awareness of the importance of learning has been reinforced in recent years by the recognition of the impact of the new communications technologies. By intensifying the informational content of environments, these technologies have increased the power of our metaphoric, linguistic, and perceptual images to develop organizational awareness and response to changing environments. As a result, a distinctive “contextual” worldview is emerging, based on the development of knowledge by organizations as a function of their members’ perception of their informational environments.  [Morley, 1989, pp. 163-164]

Whereas laymen may use the word “environment”, a more precise condition of the “contextual” is proposed.  For better or worse, the issues of the late 1980s still seem omnipresent today.

The term “contextualism” can also be applied to current expressions of “environment” as a generic and encompassing condition (rather than in its more limited application to specific physical and functional aspects of setting). Emerging contextual awareness appears to be undermining some of the social and institutional barriers that have resisted the use of open systems and environmental thinking as a basis for framing and addressing such critical societal problems as deteriorating natural environments, population growth, international trade imbalances, rapid urbanization, the arms race, uncertain world financial institutions, or those problems associated with such broad issues as health, poverty, aging, and international terrorism. Contextual perspectives of such complex systems of problems emphasize their broad-ranging and overlapping character. This emphasis leads to a growing demand for equally complex, multi-organizational, and multi-sectoral responses — in contrast to the standard institutional tendency to closed-system thinking that has led to the dominance of specialist (disciplinary, professional, or sectoral) views of such large-scale problems.  [Morley, 1989, pp. 163-164]

In the interest of conciseness, the well-written history of the development of the field of organizational change is abbreviated here as bullet points:

  • The Continuing Principles of Organizational Change
    • Redundancy of parts (design principle one)
    • Redundancy of functions (design principle two)
    • A theory of collaborative relationships
    • Group dynamics

Interested readers may seek out Morley’s full chapter for the summary, or search online for collateral work by other researchers.

The traditions in this stream of organizational change are premised on underlying philosophies that are egalitarian and humanist.

… Lewin stated the objective directly: “We are likely to modify our own behavior when we participate in problem analysis and solution and are likely to carry out the decisions we have helped to make” (quoted in Weisbord 1987:88).

These conclusions can easily appear as idealized abstractions when viewed separately from the settings in which they were originated and applied. It was another Lewin maxim that it was possible to address a problem at the same time as the process was being studied, with the intention of amending the theory and practice of change. The methodology for carrying out this intention was action research — a collaborative consultation process between outside researcher acting as facilitator and catalyst, and inside stakeholders engaged in addressing an issue of immediate significance to themselves. The evolution of this work is, therefore, directly associated with the character of the settings in which the common themes were applied, and on the way in which action-research models were adapted for use …  [Morley, 1989, pp. 168-169]

The orientation of the Tavistock Institute in the UK, as compared to the NTL in the USA, was based on the type of engagements in which they were involved.

In broad terms, the emergence of separate branches of the organizational-change work could initially be described in terms of a transatlantic distinction. In North America, Lewin’s work was applied predominantly in relation to the improvement of group relations within organizations. The approach is well illustrated by Lewin’s collaboration with Douglas McGregor at the Research Center for Group Dynamics at MIT in 1946 and the subsequent formation of the National Training Laboratories (NTL) focusing on “basic skills training” and using the now famous T-group techniques.

In Britain, work at the Tavistock Institute of Human Relations spearheaded the organizational-change field in the immediate post-war period. Eric Trist and his colleagues Bridger and Wilson, all with backgrounds in psychiatry and psychoanalysis, came together to build on their wartime experience in “field psychiatry” (Trist 1981). A critical aspect of these experiences seems to have been the need, in wartime settings, to confront unpredictable crises that shook the foundations of existing institutions and could not be addressed without the active participation of all members of the associated organizations. In Trist’s words, they needed to be encouraged to collaborate in order “to help them solve their own problems.” As with the Lewin group, the basic element of this process was the small face-to-face group; but in contrast with the American work, the Tavistock group emphasized the “professional” rather than “clinical” relationship with clients in the development of an action-research methodology.

The objective of the Tavistock professional model was to escape from the constraints of the experimenter/subject relationship that underlies so much social-science research. The question the Tavistock researchers addressed was: How can we uncover the kind of fundamental data that can be gained from people and their organizations in “natural” settings without creating the barrier to access that accompanies the labelling of such participants as “subjects”?  [Morley, 1989, pp. 169-170]

The shift from intra-organizational change to inter-organizational change tracks with Trist’s research.

The significance of this view of organizations as environment is reflected in another important theme underlying the development of the body of work generated by organizational-change theory discussed here: the identification of the turbulent environmental field as a pervasive contextual (i.e. global) condition. In their seminal paper, Fred Emery and Eric Trist developed a typology of environmental types reflecting the implications of increasing rates of change, interdependency of issues, density of organizational systems, and unpredictability of events. The culmination of the increased levels of complexity associated with these combined criteria is referred to as a state of environmental “turbulence” (Emery and Trist 1965). A series of later publications has extended this notion through the recognition of the tendencies towards increasing entropy (apparent randomness of events), more “richly joined” environments, increasing mutual causality among issues, increasing variety of experience, and a sense of the dislocation of what, in hindsight, appeared to constitute a previous “stable state” (Ackoff 1974; Ashby 1970; Emery and Trist 1973; Schon 1973; and Trist 1980).

The relevance to the present discussion of this well-known and influential sequence of work is that, over twenty years ago, it demonstrated the realization that organizations and their environments are in an interdependent and open system relationship and are dominated by interconnected “systems of problems” that challenge existing organizational responses and can only be addressed through the medium of interactive “systems of organizations.” In the meantime, quite independently of this work, “turbulence” has become one of the most widely used and accepted metaphors of our times. But, other than in numbers of small-scale, locally based, and largely disconnected action-research exercises, there has been little direct follow-up of the turbulence hypothesis and its implications for large-scale institutional change processes (Dror 1986; Morley et al. 1980; Morley 1981; Morley and Shachar 1986; Ramirez 1983; Trist 1980; Williams 1982).  [Morley, 1989, pp. 171-172]

While the research into the global problematique and open systems theory was contemporaneous amongst organizational researchers, the emphases from the two communities diverged.

This work provides a direct link with the critical current dilemma referred to earlier how to create institutional capacities to address the global problematique. In fact, Trist had recognized the importance of this issue over ten years earlier in his development of an alternative ecological principle of organizational adaptation and change that was entirely consistent with the emergence of the contextual uncertainty associated with turbulence. This was a typical product of the ‘open-systems” thinking that characterized the work of the Tavistock Institute in the post-war period. The approach was based on the recognition that the widespread and significant social and organizational changes that were a reflection of turbulence demanded “a new unit of analysis” (Trist 1976:163) involving a “field of action” that incorporated the wider contextual environment and was multi-organizational. Together with associated boundary-crossing concepts — such as the need to deal with issues in socio-technical terms and to adopt a negotiated order based on collaboration rather than competition in turbulent settings — this ecological perspective consolidated previous work around what Trist termed “organizational ecology’ where the organizational field, not the individual organization, becomes the object of inquiry (Trist 1976). From the perspective of this paper, the most important implication of an ecological view of the organizational field is its potential for creating a bridge between the basic traditions of organizational-change theory and their application to organizations searching for new frameworks for action in the context of turbulent global settings.  [Morley, 1989, pp. 172-173]

Broadening “organizational ecology” into a larger ecological perspective is compatible with the ecological approach that runs from J.J. Gibson through Gregory Bateson, and shows up in the references of writings by Tim Ingold.

I turned to the writings of James Gibson and, in particular, to his masterpiece of 1979, The ecological approach to visual perception. Reading this book was a revelation: indeed I cannot think of any other work that has exerted a greater influence on my thinking over the last ten years or so. This influence is evident in everything I have written since, including the essays that make up this volume.

Gibson wanted to know how people come to perceive the environment around them. The majority of psychologists, at least at the time when Gibson was writing, assumed that they did so by constructing representations of the world inside their heads. It was supposed that the mind got to work on the raw material of experience, consisting of sensations of light, sound, pressure on the skin, and so on, organising it into an internal model which, in turn, could serve as a guide to subsequent action. The mind, then, was conceived as a kind of data-processing device, akin to a digital computer, and the problem for the psychologist was to figure out how it worked. But Gibson’s approach was quite different. It was to throw out the idea, that has been with us since the time of Descartes, of the mind as a distinct organ that is capable of operating upon the bodily data of sense. Perception, Gibson argued, is not the achievement of a mind in a body, but of the organism as a whole in its environment, and is tantamount to the organism’s own exploratory movement through the world. If mind is anywhere, then, it is not ‘inside the head’ rather than ‘out there’ in the world. To the contrary, it is immanent in the network of sensory pathways that are set up by virtue of the perceiver’s immersion in his or her environment. Reading Gibson, I was reminded of the teaching of that notorious maverick of anthropology, Gregory Bateson. The mind, Bateson had always insisted, is not limited by the skin. Could not an ecological approach to perception provide the link I was looking for, between the biological life of the organism in its environment and the cultural life of the mind in society?

The issue for me, at the time, was to find a way of formulating this link that could also resolve what I felt to be a deep-rooted problem in my own work. Setting out from the complementarity thesis, I had argued that human beings must simultaneously be constituted both as organisms within systems of ecological relations, and as persons within systems of social relations.  [….]

[The] parallels led me to suggest that a combination of ‘relational’ thinking in anthropology, ‘ecological’ thinking in psychology and ‘developmental systems’ thinking in biology would yield a synthesis infinitely more powerful than any of the ‘biosocial’, ‘psychocultural’ or ‘biopsychocultural’ alternatives currently on offer, all of which invoke some version of the complementarity thesis.  [Ingold, 2000, pp. 3-4]

The view of ecological relations by Tim Ingold (i.e. human beings both as organisms and as persons) is complementary to the Tavistock work (i.e. socio-psychological, socio-technical and socio-ecological perspectives) with a slight shift of labelling and the system of interest deemed primary.

3. Action learning, based on open systems theory

After that long historical digression, we can now focus on describing action learning in the style of “Trist in Canada”, in comparison to action research and other approaches that take confusing similar labels.  Domain-based projects were taken on by teams at York U., while Eric Trist was on faculty from 1978 to 1985.

Action learning was conceived as an integration of the traditional concepts, methods, and applications that have been applied in the organizational-change field since the 1940s. In many senses, the basic idea of action learning had been present throughout the forty-year period, under the guise of social learning and experiential learning perspectives. However, the need for the explicit recognition of action learning was generated by the necessity of stating in simple and common-sense terms the implications of the individual and collective learning process that occurs when participants drawn from the range of interest groups involved in active organizational-change settings are taken seriously as partners in that process. Action learning, as it is applied here, is normally associated with cooperative change strategies; it is a conscious outcome of shared experience, information, and intelligence that is available to inform and aid such activity.

Like the open-systems organizational perspective from which it derives, action learning is open to inputs from all levels of the environments that are associated with the activity — internal, transactional, and contextual. In this respect, the recognition of the need to reinforce the experiential “learning-by-doing” framework that underlies work in the organizational- change field from Lewin on came directly from experience in developing a domain-based setting for action research. The activation of multi-organizational exchange around the threatening issues associated with meta-problems demanded a constant “search” for a shared appreciation on which to base continuing collaboration and for a means of building on the outcomes of this process. Action learning, then, was the term used by action researchers working together in the early 1980s at York University to describe this form of a self-directed, co-learning process carried out in real-time settings by long-term stakeholders and applied to concerns that were frequently related to persistent and complex problems.   [Morley, 1989, pp. 177-178]

The (i) internal and (ii) transactional activities of an open system can be associated with the Socio-Psychological Systems (SPS) perspective, and the Socio-Technical Systems (STS) perspective.  The (iii) contextual activities, outside of the primary system of interest, were the focus of the Socio-Ecological Systems (SES) perspective.  All three activities occur at the same time, and all three perspectives were developed as field research concurrently.

This specific use of the term “action learning”, coming specifically from the open systems organizational perspective, may create confusion with similarly labelled research from a slightly different tradition.

  • Action learning with Eric Trist started with the Tavistock Institute, through the Social Systems Science program at the University of Pennsylvania (led by Russell Ackoff), and then the York University Action Learning Group.
  • Action learning with Reg Revans started at University of Manchester, and has migrated to the University of Salford.

Trist researched coal mines in Yorkshire.  Revans researched coal mines in Wales. It’s easy to appreciate confusion on “action learning” from two researchers originating in postwar Britain, on different trajectories.

The Action Learning Group at York University appreciated the open systems perspective, and contrasts it with action learning that emphasizes an inward orientation on the organizational system.

The term “action learning” is not a new one. It had already been applied in the organizational context to the process of management education since the 1950s (Revans 1982). For Reginald Revans, action learning centred on the idea that “learning stems from reasonable experience, and is reinforced when that experience is shared with others … learning is … enhanced by the coming together of people in the same boat to work on live problems of common concern” (ibid., 7). The emphasis of Revans and others who have worked with him was, however, focused mainly on the application of action learning to the training of business managers operating within the internal environments of their organizations (see also MacNamara and Weeks 1982; MacNulty 1979).   [Morley, 1989, pp. 178]

The Trist-influenced open systems approach to action learning was could be seen as involving empowerment and critical pedagogy to a greater degree, leading more toward participation and self-managing teams, potentially towards an emancipatory agenda.

As it is applied here, the nature of the learning process itself and the way in which it is initiated and sustained is central to action learning. In this respect, action learning, like other popular-based, participatory activities, takes the form of an “educational project” in which participants undergo both a subjective and a collective transformation in their level of consciousness. As such, action learning involves an implicit pedagogical style that lies at the heart of its distinctiveness. Used in this context, “pedagogy’ refers to the interactive roles of both insiders and outsiders as agents of learning. The main precedent for this wider use of the term is found in the work of Paulo Freire and particularly in his conception of a “pedagogy of the oppressed,” which is based on education through the “critical intervention of the people in reality through the praxis [reflection and action in order to transform a setting] … a pedagogy that must be forged with, not for, the oppressed to regain their humanity (Freire 1970:33-7).

In Freire’s terms, action learning becomes an education project and an element of a new pedagogy. As such, it also establishes links with the 1930’s notion of “progressive education” and Dewey’s distinction of education as “development from within” rather than “formation from without” (Dewey 1938:17) and associated notions of learning through experience, together with the later definition of “self-directed learning” (Knowles 1975).   [….]

A final theoretical connection brings action learning back to the work of a leading practitioner in the organizational-change area. Fred Emery’s major analysis of established and emerging educational paradigms focuses on the development of a “new learning paradigm” in which the human perceptual system is viewed as the central resource for detecting the informational structure of the environment — one that has evolved to cope with a heterogeneous and discontinuous world (Emery 1980). The idea that people are equipped to generate information for themselves, and that advances in knowledge and intelligence relating to their environment are available and accessible to the entire community, remains a radical notion. Within such a learning paradigm, Emery defines the nature of the teacher’s role as orienting the learner towards problems, encouraging searching in a wider context and time span, and emphasizing discovery and the generation of information from perceptual work: learning to learn, and “unlearning.” The teacher acts basically as a catalyst and facilitator of learning; this is precisely the role assigned to the action-research practitioner working within domain settings.  [Morley, 1989, pp. 178-179]

Emery and Trist were university professors and researchers in the field.  Learning can be seen in the setting of a classroom, but also in the workplace.   This shows up in the distinction in methods of action research associated with Lewin, towards action learning in an open systems approach.

4. Extending action research into action learning

In contrast to action research that involves external facilitators working towards a specific goal, action learning involves the insiders adapting processes in a self-organizing way.

As applied in relation to the development of multi-organizational domains, action learning becomes a critical aspect of the process of drawing together a range of interest groups to learn “with and from each other” in settings beyond traditional organizational boundaries. It is an essential aspect of the search for common ground on which any collective action in such setting: must be based. This aspect is also at the core of the application of action learning to the addressing of global issues, which are also located in an as-yet-unidentified meta-middle ground that lies outside the jurisdiction and control of any single organization, agency, or nation.

Although the concept of action learning, as it was originally developed by members of the York Action Learning Group in the early 1980s, was seen as a general framework applicable in a wide range of organizational settings, its conscious application as part of the organizational-change field was largely associated with domain-based action research. It was a means of explaining why “learning” was the key metaphor for the development of organizational strategies within the domain field. It also became a basis for integrating the complex of past and evolving perspectives on organizational change within settings of uncertainty, and therefore was seen to be useful in all associated settings, from small local networks to large corporate bodies (Ramirez 1983; Morley and Ramirez 1983; Morgan and Ramirez 1984; Gilmore et al. 1986; Bach and Morley 1987).

Because action learning can be regarded as a natural extension of action research, comparisons between the two are useful. The basic characteristic common to both is the focus on collaboration between the “outsider’ (researcher, consultant, scientist, facilitator, advocate, etc.) and the “insider” (participant, stakeholder, practitioner). A critical difference between action research and action learning in relation to insider / outsider relations is reflected in their titles. In applications of action research, the distinction between the output of the insiders (action) and that of the outsider (research) remains clear and strong. The goals of social science and the professional responsibility of the researcher are important and must be addressed. In action-learning settings, the output is an integrated one — mutual learning on the part of insiders and outsiders. It is fundamentally described in the terms of the organization of the everyday life of the insiders — that is, in relation to concerns, issues, problems that are framed in terrns relevant and understandable to local participants (whether they be peasants, unionists, residents, local administrators, business people, technicians, national politicians, planners, members of minority groups, or any other actors drawn into the process).

In action research, the expertise of the outsider remains as the critical determining force. In action learning, there is an explicit recognition of the distinctive and different experiences, knowledge, and skills that are possessed by insiders and outsiders. The collaboration (or dialectic [Lockhart 1982]) between the two kinds of resources involves a sharing of these contrasting qualities with the aim of subsequently generating co-teaching and learning between and among the participants from each group. Two important outcomes of this cooperative relationship between researcher and the researched particularly reflected in action-learning processes are: (1) the likelihood of a continuing association between those facilitating action-learning activities and those participating in the process; and (2) the tendency towards a significant psychological involvement in the process on the part of insiders and outsiders.

The following differences between action research and action learning are implied by the preceding discussion:

Action research tends to: Action learning tends to:
  • focus on the internal environments of single organizations
  • focus on the common transactional and contextual environments associated with the set of organizations drawn together around domain issues
  • involve actors in roles defined by the organizations of which they are members
  • involve a range of stakeholders representing the organizations, groups, and communities that make up the set of domain interests
  • be goal-oriented, involving step-like processes towards achieving agreed objectives
  • involve the establishing of continuing, adaptive learning processes that are self-organized by the participants
  • involve the outside intervenor as a process expert, analyst, consultant, or trainer
  • involve the outside intervenor as a learning catalyst, facilitator, learner, and change agent
  • be closely linked with social-science field practice and to emphasize the outsider’s diagnostic process expertise
  • blur insider/outsider roles and to emphasize the outcomes of local learning and the sustaining of the change process
  • be narrowly defined, situational, and limited by the immediate context
  • originate in specific local settings, but encourages the formation of networks among similar settings as a conscious element of the wider field of action

The key to understanding the distinct quality of the action-learning approach to organizational change lies in its focus on the need to create domain settings for collaborative learning as a basis for initiating strategies for change. This central character of action learning has underlined the importance of four dimensions of the activity it has generated:

  • (1) the creation of a neutral, common, or middle-ground space in which the various interests attempting to address a critical issue could work to establish a collaborative approach;
  • (2) the relationship between insider (stakeholder) and outsider (facilitator) actors involved in the process;
  • (3) the use of various forms of the “search” model to initiate action-learning processes; and
  • (4) the significance of boundary identification, management, and crossing (including socio-cultural, organizational, jurisdictional, ideological, disciplinary, and professional boundaries) in order to meet the scale, complexity, and uncertainty associated with the kinds of problems that demand multiple interests and organizational approaches. [Morley, 1989, pp. 179-182, editorial paragraphing added]

Action research has a strong academic foundation with a active community worldwide.  Action learning based on open systems theory shares some of those practitioners, with the deeper appreciation of extensions known in pockets following the extensive body of work by Trist.  In 1984, Rafael Ramirez was a post-graduate fellow at York University, during Trist’s time there.

The emergence of turbulent organizational environments (Emery & Trist, 1965/1978) has led a number of writers … to develop strategies which enable organizations to deal with turbulent conditions. Action learning is a generic approach that integrates these strategies by examining the theoretical principles they share.

Action learning strategies join direct participation of those affected by an issue within an organization or set of organizations with effective ways of dealing with that issue. The action learning approach facilitates the on-going creation and invention of means which enable a level of organizational effectiveness to be attained which cannot be reached through traditional means alone.

The strategies and methodologies considered a part of the action learning approach can be recognized by at least two distinct characteristics. The first is agreement among the stakeholders facing a continuing, intractable, turbulent problem issue that some form of co-determination — however small it may be, however it may be reached, whether through negotiation or collaboration — in resolving it is desirable for each and every one in the community of interests concerned. Further, the action learning approach actively involves the normative (or ethical) appreciations (Vickers, 1967) of the issue held by all the interests affected by it in its ongoing resolution (McWhinney, 1980).

The second characteristic concerns the relationship that exists between and among the various kinds of knowledge which these appreciations and interests contain. The action learning approach relates these in terms of a co-learning relationship (Friedman, 1973) in which experts and laymen hold learning in common trust as the basis for the resolution of the issue. Thus, they learn from and with each other in the resolution process. This relationship, which applies equally to education, research, management, and planning, makes possible the directive correlation (Sommerhoff, 1969) between policy formulation and action of which the praxis of action learning consists. Action learning enables policy and implementation to occur simultaneously instead of sequentially, as in the linear, chronological order of most traditional modes. Thus, as Pava (1980) has indicated, quoting Weick (1977), “complete understanding does not precede action; insight develops with enactment” (p. 71).

Action learning reframes management from the traditional function of control to one in which the main concern is to facilitate the colearning process (Morgan, 1982). Planning is reframed from a goal-setting end-state-determining process to one in which the limits of the learning process are continually identified, redefined, and decided upon (Morgan, 1982); this can also be viewed as a process of continually acquiring, renaming, and redefining intelligence (Chevalier, 1981) and understanding (Friedman, 1973; Schon, 1980). Research in action learning changes from the more traditional answer-oriented endeavor to a problem-posing (Freire, 1968) enterprise concerned with exploring opportunities for learning.

The emphasis that action learning places on learning involves a recognition that how we go about dealing with the unpredictable, uncertain futures that turbulence entails is increasingly important in terms of what it is that we do. This provides more effective intelligence and understanding of our strategies, which are determined by the expectations we have of the ever-changing systems of outcomes we confront in turbulent change.

Action learning provides a how that enables organizations continually and effectively to adapt the expectations upon which they base their strategies to the complex, rapidly changing outcomes that they face in turbulence.

Action learning, as here understood, involves learning at all levels of the organization, and among organizations, as a generic strategic approach to deal with turbulent change. It therefore goes beyond its use in the training of managers (Revans, 1972, 1982; McNulty, 1979; MacNamara & Weekes, 1982). It further differs from the approach developed by Revans (1971) in that the learning process of the strategists involved is considered to be the determinant frame for the design and negotiation of the strategy instead of having the design of the strategy in the dominant position (MacNamara & Weekes, 1982, p. 889). [Ramirez, 1983, pp. 725-727]

Which comes first, planning or learning?  Traditionally, management has seen that (i) planning is a higher logical type, constraining and qualifying (ii) learning as a lower logical type.  Action learning instead puts (i) learning as the higher logical type, which (ii) determines the strategy and planning as the lower logical types in the messes to be addressed.

When action learning puts learning in the higher logical type, as has previously been explained, the result is to reframe traditional strategies within a broader context. The overall effective applicability —for lack of better word —of the existing traditional strategies becomes smaller in relation to the larger applicability afforded by the emergence of action learning strategies. This applicability would be in terms of effectiveness in problem-solving by type of causality, that is, traditional strategies are only applicable to additive sets of problems but not to tightly coupled, richly joined (Ashby, 1956/1978) problematiques. A good example of this type of relationship, in a sense similar not only in terms of the relationship between the existing strategies and the emerging action learning ones but also in terms of their causal applicability, is the relationship between Newtonian physics and quantum-relativistic physics. The appearance of the latter enlarged the number of outcomes that were explainable and it constrained and qualified the applicability of Newtonian physics. In a similar way, the emergence of action learning enables us to deal with a larger set of outcomes and it constrains and qualifies where traditional strategies are most effective.

The relationship between action learning and the traditional mode is illustrated graphically in Fig. 4, where the more reduced applicability of the traditional strategies (A) after action learning (B) has emerged can be compared to the traditional mode’s applicability prior to the emergence of action learning. [Ramirez, 1983, pp. 736]

Fig. 4. The applicability of the traditional and action learning paradigms before and after the emergence of the latter
Fig. 4. The applicability of the traditional and action learning paradigms before and after the emergence of the latter

Action learning was subsequently extended with holographic principles, i.e. organization not only with redundancy of parts, but also redundancy within parts  [Morgan and Ramirez, 1984]

5. Social engagement in social science

While the body of work by Eric Trist evolved continuously from the 1950s to the 1990s, he shifted the label from action research, to action learning and then finally social engagement.

[Trist originally] used the term action research in the 1950s, 60s, and 70s to relate social and psychological sciences to the needs of society. In the 1980s he began to use the term action learning to reflect his approach to the framing of, and subsequent response to, critical issues. By the end of the 1980s, however, he did not feel quite right about that term either and began to use the phrase “social engagement of social science” stating that not that all social science should be socially engaged but some of it should be. The word “engagement” is used in a fashion similar to the French existentialist use of the word, meaning “the process by which social scientists endeavour actively to relate themselves in relevant and meaningful ways to society” (Trist and Murray 1990: xi).7

  • 7 Trist also explained his use of the term at a presentation on the “Social Engagement of Social Science: the Socio-Psychological Approach”, Faculty of Environmental Studies, York University, 1990. [Bernard, 1998, p. 345]

Morley provides an outline for approaching action that follows terms of engagement within a project.  This is not a cookbook. The practice of action research is described in four dimension.  The orientation is not in “problem solving”, but more in defining boundaries in which effective action (i.e. organizational change) can be activated and maintained.

Neither action research nor action learning can be examined separately from their practical application. Throughout the history of this work, the learning context for the outsiders (whether in the guise of researcher, advocate, teacher, or facilitator) has been the project setting. It is in these active participatory situations that the importance of the four basic dimensions of action learning as a catalyst for domain development has been established:

  • the concern with inside/outside relations
  • the use of the exploratory or search mode
  • the identification of critical boundaries
  • the definition of neutral middle-ground space.

These four dimensions will be considered briefly as a demonstration of the nature of the practice of action learning and a consideration of its potential as a generic framework for responses to problems at the global scale. The central importance of insider/outsider relations to action learning has already been established. These relationships are not fixed; they change throughout the evolution of an action-learning process and reflect significant shifts in the role of the outside catalyst. The significance of this dimension demonstrates the project-oriented experience of those who have framed the action-learning idea. In the majority of cases, the outside “researchers” have played an important role in initiating domain building and activation, with the result that their relations with the representatives of local constituencies with whom they have been involved have significantly defined the nature of the project. Of course, because action learning is a generic individual and organizational capacity, learning from action does not need outside assistance in order for it to be initiated’ In fact, unless there is a some tendency towards collaborative networking in a setting, a domain response to critical issues is unlikely to occur, even with external assistance. [Morley, 1989, pp. 182-183]

The next paragraph refers to Figure 1, that appears in print on a single page with an upper and a lower section. Below, they are similarly reproduced as separate images, but the 3 diagrams in the lower section become unreadable. (Clicking on these should show larger versions in a new browser window,  if you want a closer view).  For readability, each of the three diagrams is repeated closer to the referring text, and the upper section appears alongside as a legend.

Figure 1 provides a simple framework for identifying basic roles and shifting associations among insiders and outsiders. The two-dimensional classification can also be used to map the patterning of relationships during the evolution of an action-learning process. The two axes distinguish between “cultural and value orientation (referring to the degree of local rootedness and the permanent association of insiders to the setting) and “perspectives on issues” (which refer to locally based viewpoints of the issue under consideration as distinct from perspectives that reflect wider technical, analytic, ideological, or other “imported” views). Set together, these distinctions produce four broad associations of inside/outside characteristics that are used to characterize involvement in a project. [Morley, 1989, p. 183]

Inside Outside insider Outsider
Figure 1a: The nature of insider / outsider relations

Figure 1 provides a simple framework for identifying basic roles and shifting associations among insiders and outsiders. The two-dimensional classification can also be used to map the patterning of relationships during the evolution of an action-learning process. The two axes distinguish between

  • “cultural and value orientation (referring to the degree of local rootedness and the permanent association of insiders to the setting)
  • and “perspectives on issues” (which refer to locally based viewpoints of the issue under consideration as distinct from perspectives that reflect wider technical, analytic, ideological, or other “imported” views).

Set together, these distinctions produce four broad associations of inside/outside characteristics that are used to characterize involvement in a project.  [Morley, 1989, p. 183, editorial paragraphing added]

Figure 1b: Action research / action learning
Figure 1b: Action research / action learning

The three stages of action research / action learning (AR/AL) projects diagrammed below the main matrix are intended to show the likely sequence of domain-building activity.

For example, the initial domain definition stage involves: [Morley, 1989, p. 183, editorial paragraphing added]

1. Domain definition
1. Domain definition
  • (1) the establishing of connections between the newly arrived outside/ outsiders and the local organizers of planned change, who are frequently trained and directed from an external perspective (hence outside/insiders);
  • (2) the attempt by the external action researchers to absorb local perspectives and to put themselves in a supportive role to local actors (hence inside/outsiders) by acting a facilitators of processes related to the project;
  • (3) the main project-design activity, including decisions to focus on particular problems affecting the setting, is carried out between the outside facilitators and local planning and participatory groups; and
  • (4) the main body of local stakeholders (inside/insiders) is drawn into the process through the development of a project advisory group that represents the range of interests and establishes the likely form of the emerging domain groups.

The objective is that this initiating process be extended through the sequence defined in figure 1. [Morley, 1989, p. 183, editorial paragraphing added]

2. Domain activation
2. Domain activation

Such a sequence is obviously a simplified version of events, but it describes the broad outline of circumstances that have been experienced in a large number of domain-oriented action-research/learning projects in which I have been involved. [….] [Morley, 1989, p. 183]

Cases cited include energy, food, day care, “the development of multi-government-agency environmental strategies, the impact of microcomputers on development in small developing nations, the extension of the recycling option for metropolitan waste management, the development of regional coalitions to focus on Great Lakes water quality, and the management of cooperative organizations as elements of rural development”.

In each of these cases, the objective has been to go beyond the domain definition stage of the project to domain activation and maintenance. These steps involve significant changing of roles for the outsiders and the gradual take-over of the process by the insider actors. Central to the use of action learning in the activation of multi-interest and multi-organizational domain consideration of relevant local problems has been the application of search-style methods. These emphasize the use of events of various kinds of round-table meetings, search conferences, seminars, training sessions) to involve participants from a wide variety of interests and backgrounds (i.e. from the organizations, interest groups, agencies, communities/networks, etc. that are involved in responding to the wider problem under consideration). The search approach aims at encouraging the collective reframing of problems by these local human resources and establishing of the key issues and tasks that need to be addressed, including the definition of the need for external resources. [Morley, 1989, p. 185]

Activating the domain with “search-style methods” can be described in contrast to the conventional intervention approaches, does not see the participation in large groups.  In application of case studies, Oels compares approaches.

The aim of these so-called ‘large-group interventions’ (Bunker and Alban, 1997) is to act as ‘catalysts in the transition from bureaucratic to learning organizations’ (Burow, 1996, p. 40, my translation), i.e. to improve an organization’s capacity to pursue its purpose under changed conditions, with new means and new structures if necessary. Zur Bonsen (1995) has assembled a list of principles (Table 1) upon which these large group interventions are based and how they differ from conventional interventions in organizations or communities (for a similar table see Leith, 1997).

Table 1. The difference between ‘whole systems’ large group interventions and conventional interventions
Conventional intervention Large group intervention
  • Sequential change
  • Simultaneous change
  • Only parts of a system in the same room
  • The whole, open system in one room (including outsiders)
  • Works on single issues
  • Works on whole system (visions, objectives, measures, relationships, values, norms)
  • Analysis of the organization/system by few (project teams, consultants . . . )
  • Always vision-centred
  • Analysis of the system environment by few
  • Analysis of the organization/system by all
  • Vision/long-term objectives (if they exist) only
    top-down
  • Vision/long-term objectives open for contribution by all
  • Change in seemingly controllable, small steps
  • Letting go of control in the traditional sense in order to gain control in a higher sense
  • Slow change
  • Fast change

The new generation of participatory processes has emerged from three intellectual traditions: Lewin’s social psychology, Bion’s psychoanalytic theory and von Bertalanffy’s systems theory as applied to organizations (Bunker and Alban, 1997, p. 11).  [Oels, 2002, p. 348]

Morley describes search conferences as one approach compatible with the action learning / social engagement theory, but that may not mean they’re the only way.  Search conferences were conducted more by Fred Emery and his followers (particularly in Australia), than by Eric Trist.

Search conferences have played a particularly important role in activating domain action. Originating from Tavistock Institute action-research groups led by Emery and Trist in the early 1960s, search conferences have been carried on extensively in Australia (Emery and Emery 1978; Williams 1979) and, during the 1980s, in Canada and in a number of developing countries. They are specifically designed to provide a setting in which the wide range of constituencies that are affecting complex systems of problems come together to search collectively for areas in which shared action might be taken if the collaborative contacts initiated at the conference were to continue among the organizations and interests involved.  Search conferences are one means of providing temporary learning settings in which the long-term stakeholders, who must live with the effects of collective action, can pool their experience and intelligence, develop a sense of their shared concerns, establish alternative (or possible) future+ and propose ways of achieving them.

However, neither search conferences nor the other forms of generating the collaborative addressing of meta-problems become involved in decision making. They are not intended to generate final plans or solutions or to direct existing institutions to take action. They are concerned with the identification of the critical boundaries of the issues they are addressing; that is, reframing them collectively in ways that focus on the elements that so often hold up the development of effective action steps, and also creating continuing learning networks with links into all the groups affected by the problem when its boundaries are redefined in such a way. These networks constitute the potential domain of interests that is coming together. They form the middle-ground space within which to attempt to:

(1) generate a participatory and anticipatory process in which the constituent interests can continue to work together;

(2) propose directions for change;

(3) establish continuing processes for adaptive learning about changing environments — for example, through the development of referent organizations; and

(4) make suggestions regarding the kind of alternative strategies that might be tested for adoption by the existing institutions associated with the problem. [Morley, 1989, pp. 185-186]

3. Domain maintenance
3. Domain maintenance

After domain activation, a follow-through stage of domain maintenance would be invoked to ensure organizational change through ongoing learning could continue.

The activation of multi-organizational domains and their maintenance cannot take place without a preparedness by the constituencies involved to utilize such spaces in the search for common grounds for action, and to act on the outcomes. This emphasis on learning as the key to addressing complex and threatening problems suggests another organizational design principle that it is necessary to apply in this kind of contextual problem setting: a redundancy of learning that is released by the redeployment of existing resources, ranging from local to international.

The need for the development of societal capacities to respond to contextual turbulence, and particularly the need to extend that capacity to deal with problems of global dimensions, has been a continuing refrain in this paper. Although many of the approaches to organizational change, outlined in the earlier discussion of the evolution of this field, have direct relevance to this need, the means to extend the scale and provide the “requisite variety” demanded by global issues have not been available. Action learning, as part of the continuing development of the field, provides some guidelines to respond to this critical societal demand. [Morley, 1989, p. 186-187]

One challenge with search conferences is that they’re intensive, requiring dozens of participants for 3 days.  Since the end of the 20th century, that commitment of resources rarely is given.  Related to search conferences is future search.

Weisbord’s creation of Future Search was informed and inspired by Schindler-Rainman and Lippitt’s (Schindler-Rainman and Lippitt, 1980) large-scale community futures conferences in North America in the 1970s and by Trist and F. Emery’s Search Conference model, first used in 1960. Because of the major influence of the Search Conference in shaping the Future Search design, Table 2 highlights the key differences between the two conference designs.

Table 2. The major differences between Search Conference and Future Search Conference
Search Conference Future Search Conference
Duration
  • 2.5 days
  • 18 hours over 3 days
Number of participants
  • 35–40
  • 64
Selection of participants
  • Limited to members of the system (those with the power to implement action plans)
  • Broad cross-section of stakeholders from inside and outside the system
Set format
  • Analysing the environment, analysing the system, integrating system and environment, action plans
  • Past, present, future, common ground,
    action planning
Grouping
  • Most of the work done in the large groupl
  • Mixture of large and small groups
Methods
  • Emphasis on rational methods
  • Emphasis on evocative methods (e.g., drama)
Handling conflict
  • ‘Rationalizing conflict’, spending time to discuss and clarify
  • Disagreements acknowledged without
    further discussion
Action planning
  • One full day spent on action planning
  • 3–4 hours spent on action planning
Long-term aim
  • Democratizing the workplace
  • Collaborative action toward a desired
    future

The developers of the Search Conference model, M. Emery and Purser, have criticized Weisbord’s Future Search Conference design on a number of counts.  [Oels, 2002, p. 348]

The chapter concluded with a view into the 1990s of a world that would become globalized, with continuing questions of environment sustainability.

What is needed now is the opening up of opportunities to extend the application of the approach beyond the local and regional expressions of such issues and into the domains of international organizations and governmental agencies, on which so much of the pressure for responses to global issues is placed. For example, the application of the domain concept at the international level to environmental issues, such as the destruction of tropical rain forest, would emphasize the development of collaborative learning settings involving multinational corporations, relevant national government agencies, local landowners and businesses, scientists, organizations representing indigenous peoples, international aid agencies, and others.

Within a broad action-learning framework, the design of processes to define, activate, and initiate joint action, and to maintain such domains at this rate of complexity would require a major extension of the approaches outlined in this book. However, the principles would still apply. The problems of addressing issues of the world-wide economy and associated questions related to the management of global systems have a distinct organizational dimension – one that is rarely addressed (as the Brundtland quotation noted). Organizational responses to the contextual definition of systems of problems at any scale suffer from lack of frameworks for the collective framing of issues in a form that is addressable, the opportunity to realign interests (and power) through the reframing of problems, and the space to develop shared perspectives and to search for opportunities that challenge the currently dominant constraints on global action. [Morley, 1989, p. 186-187]

The publication of the Learning Works book in 1989 would have celebrated with Eric Trist in person, as Bernard mentions his giving a seminar at York University in 1990.  Research has continued with Business Planning for Turbulent Times [Ramírez, Selsky, van der Heijden, 2008], and “Strategic Planning in Turbulent Environments: A Social Ecology Approach to Scenarios” (Ramirez, Selsky, 2016).  A review of the causal texture theory written in 2009, would have been better informed with this 1989 appreciation of Eric Trist in Canada.

References

Bernard, Mary Elaine. 1998. New Forms of Coherence: The Theory and Facilitation of Organizational Change from the Perspective of the Eric Trist and Ilya Prigogine Schools of Thought. Doctoral dissertation, Toronto, Ontario: York University. https://ocul-yor.primo.exlibrisgroup.com/permalink/01OCUL_YOR/q36jf8/alma991018526549705164.

Ingold, Tim. 2000. “General Introduction.” In The Perception of the Environment: Essays on Livelihood, Dwelling and Skill, 1–7. Routledge. http://doi.org/10.4324/9780203466025

Morley, David. 1989. “Frameworks for Organizational Change: Towards Action Learning in Global Environments.” In Learning Works: Searching for Organizational Futures, edited by Susan Wright and David Morley, 163–90. Toronto: The Adapting by Learning Group, York University.

Oels, Angela. 2002. “Investigating the Emotional Roller‐coaster Ride: A Case Study‐based Assessment of the Future Search Conference Design.” Systems Research and Behavioral Science 19 (4): 347–55. https://doi.org/10.1002/sres.437.

Ramirez, Rafael. 1983. “Action Learning: A Strategic Approach for Organizations Facing Turbulent Conditions.” Human Relations 36 (8): 725–42. https://doi.org/10.1177/001872678303600804.

Morgan, Gareth, and Rafael Ramirez. 1984. “Action Learning: A Holographic Metaphor for Guiding Social Change.” Human Relations 37 (1): 1–27. https://doi.org/10.1177/001872678403700101.

Ramírez, Rafael, John W. Selsky, and Kees van der Heijden, eds. 2008. Business Planning for Turbulent Times: New Methods for Applying Scenarios. Earthscan. http://doi.org/10.4324/9781849774703.

Ramírez, Rafael, and John W. Selsky. 2016. “Strategic Planning in Turbulent Environments: A Social Ecology Approach to Scenarios.” Long Range Planning 49 (1): 90–102. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.lrp.2014.09.002.

Wright, Susan, and David Morley. 1989. “Preface.” In Learning Works: Searching for Organizational Futures, edited by Susan Wright and David Morley, vii–xiii. A tribute to Eric Trist. Toronto, Canada: Adapting by Learning Group, Faculty of Environmental Studies, York University.

Appendix:  Contents

Preface vii
Acknowledgements xv
Contributors xvi
Carl Johnston Prologue: Travels with Eric, 1978-9 3
Max B. E. Clarkson Values: Moving from the Old Paradigm to the
New
9
Bart Cunningham and
Terry White
QWL’s Future: An Agenda for Year 2000 20
Harvey Kolodny Design Skills and Intensity of Beliefs 36
Gareth Morgan Organizational Choice and the New Technology 47
John G. Craig Paradigms and the Theory of Cooperation 63
Part Two  Organizational Ecology: The Framing of Meta-Problems
Peter Homenuck Futures for Industrial Cape Breton 85
Suzanne F. Jackson The Search Conference Process Applied to
Provincial Health Planning
98
Mary Bernard Learning from the Canadian Native Peoples 113
Linda Mitz Balancing Work and Family Life 130
Michel Chevalier, Fred Carden
and Glen Taylor
A Position Statement on International
Development: The Case of Sub-Saharan Africa
142
Part Three  Transitions to Action Learning
David Morley Frameworks for Organizational Change:
Towards Action Learning in Global Environments
163
Michael Bach Public Policy Issues within an
Action-Learning Framework
191
Susan Wright The Design Process and Social Change 213
Rafael Ramirez The Social Architecture of l’Association du
Pays du Puy du Fou
232
David Morley and Susan Wright Epilogue: Organizational and Contextual
Change
256
Works by Eric Trist 279
Index 287

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