Academic journal article Organization Development Journal

New Trends in Organizational Challenges and Need for Change: The ISEOR Research Programs

Academic journal article Organization Development Journal

New Trends in Organizational Challenges and Need for Change: The ISEOR Research Programs

Article excerpt

ISEOR (Socio-Economic Institute for Firms and Organizations) is a not-for-profit association created in 1975 and associated with the IAE business school at the University of Lyon 3 in France. It is a management research laboratory carrying out intervention-research programs. These programs were developed in vivo, within companies, and have consisted in accompanying them in establishing and leading change processes according to a specific methodology of interventionresearch, called Socio-Economic Approach to Management (SEAM) (Savall, 1974, 1981, 2010). These SEAM intervention-research studies in a large variety of organizations have formed over time real observation data of management issues in the field. These intervention-research programs were conducted through a technique based on the physical presence of the intervener-researcher in the organization to engage the change process in cooperation with the internal actors (Buono & Savall, 2007, 2015; Conbere & Heorhiadi, 2011). They consist in "irrigating the entire company, taking into consideration the interaction between the change actions, initiated both at the top and at the various organizational levels" (Savall, 2003, p.40).

The permanent links maintained with the managers and employees of these organizations have enabled the scientific observation of their management problems and the solutions codesigned between practitioners and researchers, then implemented by the managers and employees.

Making action research or interventionresearch in management is a challenging strategy for researchers. We defined it as in-depth research within organizations, historically developed in different disciplines such as social psychology, sociology, or management sciences. Intervention-research in management is part of the action research extended family, but differs by the deliberate commitment and involvement of the interveners-researchers within the companies and organizations (Savall & Zardet, 2014a; Buono, Savall & Cappelletti, 2018).

Like most approaches to action research, SEAM is aimed at enhancing the creation of insights (Coghlan, 2001, 2010) on management situations, and inventing new management frameworks in order to better understand the complex phenomena in the action system and in the change processes. In action-research, researchers don't act as analysts, distanced neutral observers, or manipulators; indeed, they adopt a position of participant, learners, and committed facilitators (Boje & Rosile, 2003).

ISEOR belongs to the family of engaged scholarship and Evidence-Based Management (EBM). Indeed, such like EBM, ISEOR philosophy of research refers to the elaboration of theoretical knowledge based on the rigorous observation of facts. This knowledge is considered useful to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of managerial decisions (Van de Ven & Johnson, 2006; Pfeffer, Sutton, 2006; Rousseau, 2006; 2007; Cappelletti, 2009; A. Savall, 2014). Moreover, this knowledge creation is based on the coproduction of knowledge between researchers and practitioners and the contradictory arbitration, that is to say, the validation of observations through non-indulgent discussions between researchers and practitioners (Cappelletti & Savall, 2014; A. Savall, 2014).

This network observatory enables to identify generic phenomena observed in all organizations. In the same way, EBM is based on the hypothesis that a rigorous analysis of the organizational facts and their phenomenology allows to distinguish real facts from beliefs, and generic knowledge from contingent knowledge (Cappelletti, 2010, 2012; A. Savall, 2014). Among all these factors, some are invariant and called "generic contingency" (Savall & Zardet, 1987, 1996, 2004, 2011). Some others are not generic, but context-specific. SEAM is aimed at improving the impacts of action-research by setting up the generic contingency principle. Eisenhardt (1989) and Pettigrew (1990) talked also about "generalizable practices" (Eisenhart & Graebner, 2007). …

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