Magazine article People & Strategy

Using a Positive Lens O Explore Social Change and Organizations: Building a Theoretical and Research Foundation

Magazine article People & Strategy

Using a Positive Lens O Explore Social Change and Organizations: Building a Theoretical and Research Foundation

Article excerpt

Using a Positive Lens o Explore Social Change and Organizations:

Building a Theoretical and Research Foundation

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Authors: Jane E. Dutton and Karen Golden-Biddle

Publisher: Routledge, 2012

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Using a Positive Lens to Explore Social Changes and Organizations: Building a Theoretical and Research Foundation is a contribution from the movement of positive social science. The "positive lens" highlighted in the title refers to a research orientation in which scholars "focus on understanding the elements in the change process in and of organizations that build up, increase, enable, and foster beneficial outcomes associated with social change." The "social change" aspect of this book refers to the study of changes that come from social movements or from other attempts to create shifts in society.

At first, it may be hard so see the relevance of social change theory to the HR professional. Yet social movements can be a powerful source of positive energy, and social change theory provides insight into the practices that can be used to engage employees and encourage them to participate in the design of organizational change.

The book has four main sections that explore various areas of social change: change agency, environment and sustainability, health care, and poverty and low-wage work. Each section includes several papers on a focused topic, followed by an analytical chapter that summarizes key themes and patterns. Most of the chapters include interesting, relevant cases that provide an effective illustration of the key ideas.

The most interesting insights in this book all provide perspective on the conditions for creating change:

* The opening chapters highlight examples of both bottom-up (self-organizing) and top-down (directed organizing) approaches to change. Successful changes comes about when leaders provide general direction while inviting employees to participate, to have voice, and to be engaged. …

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