Professional Practice Stories of Facilitating Organisational Change

    Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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    This exegesis has provided a critical analysis of the role and effectiveness of an internal organisational change facilitator/ practitioner. The aim was to identify the ways of knowing in competent practice. To achieve this, the study addressed the following questions (1) How do organisational change facilitators define themselves, their knowledge and their practice? (2) How do organisational change facilitators know they are effective? The study is ethnographic and autoethnographic as it is a study of the culture and practice of my profession. The methodology was based on narrative and employed a number of diverse narrative analyses. The literature review covered the history of group facilitation and the evolving and increasingly important role of the facilitator/ facilitation in organisational change; and the political nature of the role in the context of critical facilitation. Three separate projects were undertaken to satisfy the requirements of the Doctor of Communication. Each project was nested in and informed the other studies.. In the first study I interviewed four practitioners and myself, who had all worked in medium to large public sector organisations for over three years. The aim of this project was to understand how practitioners define their practice and know that they are effective. In this project I used a 'living narrative analysis' which produced three practice stories one of which was an autoethnographic story of my practice. The main findings provided insight into the political nature of the role and found that internal practitioners are not neutral because of their organisational knowledge and ability to contextualise which often makes them more effective than external consultants. I recommend that collaborative action research with Certified Professional Facilitators is further required to investigate the neutral role as a professional competency. The second project was undertaken in my organisation and involved the evaluation of a cultural change program using the Most Significant Change (MSC) Storytelling Technique, a participatory evaluation and monitoring approach. The aim of this project was to investigate how practitioners evaluate their practice. In this project I provide an extended critique of the MSC and provide advice to practitioners on how the technique may be modified to foster organisational learning and reflection, participant and senior management ownership, and overcome ethical dilemmas. I also use story deconstruction analysis to critique the process and offer that a modified version of the MSC when used with deconstruction form a complimentary duo with the potential to provide depth to cultural diagnosis and evaluation of practice. In the third project I developed a workshop for practitioners to train project and change teams in their organisations in the critical facilitator approach so that they may be able to 'pass the baton' on to create sustainable organisational change and facilitation competence. This workshop was developed through co-operative inquiry over three international facilitator conferences. I critique the critical facilitator approach from reflections with co-facilitators and participant facilitators and an exploration of the literature on power, empowerment and power relations. To strengthen the approach I assume a performative-I disposition to produce a performative poem, The Shapeshifter, which critiques the dominant organisational narratives and struggles of the practice of an internal practitioner. Finally I recommend that practitioners practice the critical facilitator role and performativity as a way of knowing self, and others, of bringing the body into professional practice or 'becoming in practice'. While there is an expectation that this will assist them to sustain practice and create sustainable organisational change, further research and practice is required in this area.
    Original languageEnglish
    QualificationDoctor of Communication
    Awarding Institution
    • Charles Sturt University
    • Bryant, Melanie, Co-Supervisor
    • Taylor, Jill, Co-Supervisor
    • Gorman, Lynette, Co-Supervisor
    • Mills, Jane, Co-Supervisor
    Award date25 Jul 2016
    Place of PublicationAustralia
    Publication statusPublished - 2016


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