Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Sustainability as Organizational Culture: Uncovering Values, Practices, and Processes

Paul Stillman, School of Human and Organizational Development

Sustainability is a vital but contested topic. In this case study, I explored the experiences of people at all levels in organizations striving to embrace exemplary sustainable practices to uncover key cultural values, practices, and processes. The evolving concept of sustainability was applied within a conceptual framework of organizational culture, phronesis or practical wisdom, and systems theory to inform the empirical research. Twenty-nine on-site, openended, narrative interviews were conducted at four organizations, including a small solar energy company, a major state research university, an iconic outdoor apparel company, and a unique specialty food producer. Interviews were analyzed for sustainability-related primary codes and emergent themes and thematic codes were grouped into four major categories: (a) embedding the mission, (b) living the mission, (c) balancing ideals and practices, and (d) relationships matter. The experientially grounded findings support and refine a synthesized model of organizational sustainability that integrates cultural, phronetic, and systemsoriented elements. In addition, the findings yield a set of actionable values, practices, and processes associated with an organizational culture of sustainability. These benchmarks can, with further adaptation, be utilized to assess progress toward a culture of sustainability in aspiring organizations.

Keywords: sustainability, sustainable practices, organizational culture, phronesis, practical wisdom, systems theory.

Living Essence: Exploring Aesthetic Factors in Leadership Development Experiences

Valerie Nishi, School of Human and Organizational Development

In complex organizational systems, there grows a need for more effective design practices for learning and leadership development. This exploratory case study research improves knowledge and understanding of how aesthetic factors (creation of symbolic objects and acts) influences the experiences of five executive leaders in a leadership development program. Perspectives from organizational studies, transformative learning, and organizational aesthetics provide a theoretical framework for understanding aesthetics and learning. Findings from this study suggest that aesthetic factors can be powerful catalysts for transformative learning for individuals and groups. Aesthetic factors appear to function as a learning technology to access and integrate often intense and conflicting sensory, emotional, somatic, and cognitiveways of knowing in a dynamic relational learning process. As mediators of meaning, aesthetic factors give form and clarity to complex phenomena; stimulate theimagination; generate enjoyment; and accelerate learning through prototyping, storytelling, and co-inquiry. Aesthetic factors demonstrate memorability that supportsembodied learning. A framework for aesthetic learning design is offered as a contribution of this study.

Key words: Leadership development, professional development, organizational aesthetics, organizational development, organizational learning, transformative learning, experiential learning, aesthetic learning, holistic learning, innovation

Two Kinds of Presence: A Comparative Analysis of Face-to-Face and Technology- Based Mediated Communication Methods and the Executive Coaching Experience

Lawrence M Drake II, School of Psychology

The purpose of this study was to explore patterns of the executive coaching experience among clients who use both face-to-face and technology-based mediated communication methods. A cross-sectional survey was conducted using a 24-item instrument administered to 108 female (n = 56) and male (n = 52) participants, ranging in age from 27 to 68. Univariate inferential tests were used to address 8 research questions concerning whether coaching clients experience significantly different levels of presence, self-disclosure, commitment, and engagement in each modality of coaching. According to study results, coaching clients reported a greater ability to self-disclose and greater levels of presence, commitment, and engagement during face-to-face coaching compared to mediated coaching. Contrary to expectations, technology use did not differ between executive coaching clients who preferred face-to-face and those who preferred mediated coaching. Likewise, attitudes toward technology did not differ among coaching clients who preferred face-to-face versus mediated coaching. Finally, there was a trend such that clients who prefer mediated coaching are younger than those who prefer face-to-face coaching.

Key words: Face-to-face, technology-based mediated communication, executive coaching, and modality.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Evidence-Based Interventions to Reduce Psychosocial and Access Barriers to Breast Cancer Screening Among African American Women

Alycia A. Bellah, School of Psychology

Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer mortality among women in the United States. In an effort to decrease cancer mortality rates among women, national efforts have encouraged early detection and treatment of breast cancer through mammography. Although cancer impacts individuals across all racial and ethnic groups, African American women have lower rates of screening; higher rates of more lethal types of cancer; higher mortality rates and advanced stage cancer detection more often than their Caucasian counterparts. The purpose of this study was to investigate the impact of a theoretically driven psychological intervention, based on social cognitive theory and motivational interviewing techniques, combined with patient education materials on mammography completion among African American women. In addition, the study’s aim was to identify variables that predict mammography completion among African American women. This study explored the effectiveness of three distinct intervention modalities on the use of mammography among a group of 766 African American women. Results of multilevel analyses for nested data indicate that evidence-based psychological intervention aimed at known barriers to cancer care improves timely mammography completion among African American women [OR = 1.25; 95% CI (1.07, 1.46)].

The results also suggest that collaborative care between primary care and mental health providers may result in improved health outcomes, specifically when working with African American women. Results of the present study offer potential targets for future breast cancer screening campaigns targeted to African American women. The results also offer theoretically sound treatment suggestions to clinicians working with African American women in the field of cancer prevention.

Key Words: cancer, screening, mammography, barriers, collaborative care, integrated care, evidence-based interventions, African American women.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Self-In-Systems: A Formal Theory of The Emergence of Postconventional Systemic Thinking as Object-self Is Found

Steven W. Page, School of Human and Organizational Development

A crescendo of voices calls us to recognize that the complexity and uncertainty of the world of the 21st century challenges us to understand how things are systemically related. The purpose of this study was to explore the capacity for systemic thinking: the capacity to consciously perceive and coordinate multiple interacting systems and reflect upon self as being in relation to systems. This study attempts to identify systemic thinking more precisely, and to explain how it develops. The source of data is the constructive developmental literature, which focuses on changes in the ways individuals construct meaning throughout the lifespan. This literature contains a variety of models indicating the capacity to see how systems are related may occur for a minority of adults during development. This study was exploratory and comparative. A meta-analysis of developmental literature across the lifespan was undertaken using grounded theory method, supported by ATLAS.ti qualitative data analysis software. Literature in the fields of systems thinking and systems intelligence also informed results. Development was explored in terms of self and systems relations rather than subject and object relations. Self-in-systems theory, presented here for the first time, proposes that perceptions of self are always perceptions of self-in-relation-to-systems. It is contended that the literature provides evidence that perceptions of self, systems, and the relationship between them differ among individuals in a manner that indicates a stage-like sequence of development. This development occurs through six levels as described by the self-in-systems (SIS) model of the development of systemic thinking. Although systems are first consciously perceived at the third level, which is conventional, systemic thinking was found to emerge at the postconventional fourth level. At the fourth level, an object-self emerges: a self perceived as always in relation to systems. The fifth level, also postconventional and characterized by a more complex form of systemic thinking, is followed by a sixth trans-personal and trans-systemic level. The SIS model may offer a way to integrate the literature on development across the lifespan. In addition, the model may indicate how to integrate the systems thinking, systems intelligence, and developmental literatures.