Development of Appreciative Inquiry
The phenomenon of appreciative inquiry (AI) has been known as an efficient means of boosting the company’s productivity and strategic thinking of the staff for quite long. Defined in 1987 by Cooperrider and Srivastva as “a mode of action-research that meets the criteria of science as spelled out in generative-theoretical terms” (Cooperrider & Srivastva, 1987, p. 131), the specified tool can be considered essential to the organizational development of a company, as it provides the means of promoting change within a specific organizational setting.
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AI has gone a long way from a mere concept to a theoretical framework that could be applied to a specific scenario within a particular organizational setting. The phenomenon in question has progressed from being a mere concept of organizational development to the foundation principle of the organization development process. The strong emphasis on action research, which the AI approach creates the premises for, is crucial to the evolution of an organization, as it informs the researcher and helps define the existing alternatives.
The generative theory in action research can be considered the first step towards the evolution of the AI concept. As Cooperrider and Srivastva explain, “This developing consensus on the importance of the symbolic realm-on the power of ideas-by such independent sources embracing such diverse objectives reflects the reality of organized life in the modern world” (Cooperrider & Srivastva, 1987, p. 132). It would be wrong to claim, though, that the researchers have only tailored their findings to the administrative sciences as applied to the realm of entrepreneurship and non-profit organizations; apart from the latter option, the researchers suggest its sociorationalist alternative, which presupposes that the order within a specific organization can be viewed as the manifestation of the order on a more general level (Appreciative inquiry workbook, 2015).
The very first implementation of the theory designed by Cooperrider and Srivastva manifested that the idea of AI had a huge potential. Seeing that the action-research approach suggested by Cooperrider and Srivastva insisted on a “sharp separation of theory and practice” (Cooperrider & Srivastva, 1987, p. 134), one might assume that the very tenets of the AI concept may happen to conflict with the actual implementation of change in the organization setting. However, the process of putting the key principles of the AI theory to life relies on the consensus developed by Cooperrider and Srivastva. Defined by the researchers as the consensus on the importance of the symbolism realm on the power of ideas (Cooperrider & Srivastva, 1987, p. 134), the given strategy allowed for conducting action research with the help of the AI approach.
The stages of the study share a range of characteristics with a standard academic study. First and most important, the problem to be researched is identified and analyzed carefully; afterward, the process of data acquisition is launched (Cooperrider, Whitney, & Stavros, 2003). The ensuing diagnosis based on the data analysis leads to the design of a tentative solution (Cooperrider & Srivastva, 1987, p. 148), which, in turn, serves as the basis for the further decision-making process. Although the above-mentioned framework may have its problems, it admittedly allows for encompassing every existing opportunity and evaluating every factor that may affect the decision-making stage. The given approach supports the idea of “certainty through science” (Cooperrider & Srivastva, 1987, p.131).
Appreciative Sharing of Knowledge
Information sharing is one of the indispensable elements of an organization’s functioning, without which no further evolution is possible. In the age of information technology, it is essential to make sure that data is transferred as fast as possible with no possibility for its misinterpretation. More importantly, information must be made available to all staff members so that every single department of the organization could work productively and cooperate successfully by coordinating their work. This is the point at which the phenomenon of knowledge sharing and the Appreciative Sharing of Knowledge Model (ASK) factor in. Suggested by Thatchenkery (2005), the model allows for an unceasing and uninterrupted process of data flow between the members of an organization (Thatchenkery, 2005).
According to the inventor of the model, ASK can be defined as “a simple method for discovering and strengthening processes that already exist in an organization for sharing ‘know-how’” (Thatchenkery, 2005, p. 8). The model implementation involves seven key stages, or steps, as Thatchenkery prefers to define them. First and most importantly, the model requires that the set for the research was set. The given step is crucial to the further retrieval of the study results and the accuracy thereof. Afterward, paired interviews should be carried out. Thatchenkery does not resort to the traditional interviewing methods, preferring the so-called paired ones; the rationale for this choice is quite obvious – unlike the former, the latter help displays the efficacy of knowledge transfer, as well as define the impediments that the process of data management may be facing within a specific organizational setting.
The third stage, which involves the identification of the so-called knowledge enablers (KE), is the innovative idea that belongs solely to Thatchenkery. The role of KE was also identified by the researcher first (Thatchenkery, 2005). Afterward, the knowledge infrastructure factors (KIF) are isolated so that their influence on the organizational environment, behavior, and values could be assessed; finally, the possibility propositions should be constructed (Thatchenkery, 2005). After the validation of the propositions is suggested, their implementation ensues. The framework for the organizational change as Thatchenkery views it is grounded deeply in the process of data management, right to the point where the members of a company are viewed as the segments of the data transfer mechanism. The ASK model, therefore, is viewed as the foundation for an organization and the key detail that allows the latter to exist.
The KIF framework, therefore, allows for both retrieving specific knowledge and generating a new one (Thatchenkery, 2005). By evaluating the organizational environment, one becomes capable of tracking down the process of knowledge transfer on every level, thus, defining the best strategy for information management (Thatchenkery, 2005).
Based on a detailed analysis of the information transfer process within a company, the KIF framework can be considered an essential element of an organization’s functioning in the era of information technology, where the speed and efficacy of data transfer often define the success of the organizational performance. It helps realize that information is not an end in itself, but merely a tool that must be used to benefit in a certain business setting. Opening an entire pool of opportunities for entrepreneurs in terms of usage of information technology, KIF is worth implementing both on local and global levels, therefore, being suitable for both minor organizations and global corporations.
Appreciative inquiry workbook. (2015). In ODKM 735 Organization Development Practices (1–19). Fairfax, VA: School of Policy, Government, & International Affairs.
Cooperrider, D.L., & Srivastva, S. (1987). Appreciative inquiry in organizational life. Research in Organizational Change and Development, 1(1), 129–169.
Cooperrider, D. L., Whitney, D., & Stavros, J. M. (2003). Appreciative inquiry handbook: The first in a series of AI workbooks for leaders of change. Bedford Heights, OH: Lakeshore Publishers.
Thatchenkery, T. (2005). Appreciative sharing of knowledge: leveraging knowledge management for strategic change. Chagrin Falls, OH: Taos Institute Publishing.