Purpose – This duoethnography explores feelings of belonging that emerged as being relevant to the participants of a doctoral organisational change study. It challenges the prolific change management models that inadvertently encourage anti-belonging.
Design/methodology/approach – A change management practitioner and her doctoral supervisor share their dialogic reflections and reflexivity on the case study to open new conversations and raise questions about how communicating belonging enhances practice. They draw on Ubuntu philosophy (Tutu, 1999) to enrich Pinar’s currere (1975) for understandings of belonging, interconnectedness, humanity and transformation.
Findings – The authors show how dialogic practice in giving employees a voice, communicating honestly, using inclusive language and affirmation contribute to a stronger sense of belonging. Suppressing the need for belonging can deepen a communication shadow and create employee resistance and alienation. Sharing in each other’s personal transformation, the authors assist others in better understanding the feelings of belonging in organisational change.
Practical implications – Practitioners will need to challenge change initiatives that ignore belonging. This requires thinking of people as relationships, rather than as numbers or costs, communicating dialogically, taking care with language in communicating changes and facilitating employees to be active participants where they feel supported.
Originality/value – For both practice and academy, this duoethnography highlights a need for greater humanity in change management practices. This requires increasing the awareness and understanding of an interconnectedness that lies at the essence of belonging or Ubuntu (Tutu, 1999).
Keywords Organisational change, Ethnography, Practitioner reflexivity, Dialogic practice, Change communication, Jungian shadow
Paper type Research paper