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The Wiley-Blackwell Handbook of the Psychology of Leadership, Change and Organizational Development by Jonathan Passmore, Arthur M. Freedman, Rachel Lewis, H. Skipton Leonard

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13

Positive Psychology and Appreciative Inquiry: The Contribution of the Literature to an Understanding of the Nature and Process of Change in Organizations

Stefan P. Cantore and David L. Cooperrider

13.1 Setting the Scene

The development of theory and practice in organizational change is a fast-moving arena in which previous truisms about the nature of organizations and the way they change are being challenged. A well-known example of this is the steady replacement of the century-long dominance of the “organization-as-machine” metaphor, fostered by Fredrick Taylor, among others, in his seminal work The Principles of Scientific Management, with talk of organizations as living human systems (Lewis et al., 2008; Taylor, 1911). Arguably this shift reflects a movement from modernity, where rationality, structure, control, and ­division of labor dominate ideas about organizations, to postmodernity in a post-industrial society, where the capacity to create and manipulate knowledge define an organization’s success or otherwise (Harvey, 1989; Touraine, 1974).

In the latter part of the 19th and for the majority of the 20th, a “modern” or “rational” approach to organizational change can be said to have dominated Western managerial thinking and practice. Some sociologists attribute this approach, in part, to the transition from community self-organizing in pre-industial times to a more formalized, structured, and therefore divided society in the industrial age (Tönnies, 1887). Traditional change ...

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