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Awakening Giants

Awakening Giants



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Published by drfrank73
PhD thesis about evaluating organisational change amongst some UK sector-leading companies
PhD thesis about evaluating organisational change amongst some UK sector-leading companies

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Published by: drfrank73 on Jul 28, 2008
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Awakening giants:
An inquiry into The Natural Step UK'sfacilitation of sustainable developmentwith sector-leading companies
Thesis submitted for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in the Systems Discipline, Centre for Complexity and Change,Faculty of Technology, The Open University, United Kingdom
Francis Meynell BA (Cantab) MSc (Surrey)
September 2003
- i -
This thesis addresses how to evaluate the influence of an advocacy organisation. A non-governmental-organisation, The Natural Step UK (TNS UK), sponsored an evaluative inquiry into itscore work. TNS UK promotes corporate sustainable development in the United Kingdom (UK) witha group of sector-leading companies. It facilitates others' understanding and use of TNS'internationally recognised science-based approach to sustainable development (TNS' framework).A second-order, systemic approach was adopted. A novel heuristic model of 'organisationallearning for sustainable development' (OLSD) was developed. The model was based on the notionof a conversational lineage. Qualitative data was collected via semi-structured conversations andparticipant observation. Narrative accounts that reflected OLSD in TNS UK's ‘Pathfinder Companies’ were constructed. An analytical strategy involving four steps was developed. The firststep entailed tracing distinctions associated with TNS' framework in the narrative accounts. Thesecond step entailed examining the narrative accounts to discern the organisational levels at whichTNS-related conversational lineages emerged. The third step entailed a meta-analysis of thenarrative accounts to discern possibilities for OLSD with TNS UK. A typology of possibilities wasconstructed. The fourth step entailed a second meta-analysis to discern ‘potentially influentialorganisational and structural factors’ that enable OLSD in practice.The inquiry led to three significant findings. The first finding concerns the model of OLSD. Themodel bridges a significant gap in the management-science literature. The second finding concernsthe evaluative methodology. The distinction between first and second-order research traditions wasa powerful one for the inquiry. Moreover, the model of OLSD was an effective heuristic. The thirdfinding concerns insights into TNS UK's praxis. Both the OLSD model and the methodologyrevealed significant potentials for improving TNS UK’s praxis. Proposals are made for reviewingboth the process-design of TNS UK's facilitation, and the organisation of its Facilitator andPathfinder Networks.The thesis concludes that OLSD is better understood in invitational terms as a process of contextual, systemic inquiry.
- ii -
I would like to thank:
Ms Chris Blackmore and Professor Ray Ison, who were the Sherpas and mountain-guides I needed butnever sought. Chris and Ray ensured my negotiation of what was, on occasion, a treacherous path.Thanks to their wise supervision, I can now see possibilities of which I had no inkling when I began thestudentship, have emerged a rounder human being,
am excited about the future! I recommendanyone else interested in researching organisational learning and sustainable development, who isseeking supervisors suited to the task, to look no further. I particularly want to thank them for encouraging me to take a good look at what I managed to do;
All at and around TNS UK, its Pathfinder Companies, Forum for the Future and TNSI, who happened to be in the right place, at the right time. Thank you for your receptivity, for giving so many opportunities,and for your interest and support. In particular, I'd like to thank Stephen Martin and David Cook,especially, for giving me the benefit of the doubt from the outset. This has been a rich learningexperience. I'd also like to thank Mark Everard, Sandy Muirhead, Peter Price-Thomas, Jas Dhami,Emma Dolman, Hilary Dennett, Ann Donnahue, Lorna Berry, Lilah Fraser, Penny Walker, Paul Roberts,Arnie Vetter, Chris Seeley, Carole Bond, Joanne Tippett, Ed Rowland, Jonathon Porritt, Sara Parkin,Duncan Eggar, Quentin Leiper, Murray Bean, Steve Foskett, Paul Monaghan, Liz Thompson, Mark Cahill, Andy Wales, Jayn Harding, Charlie Bower, Annie Pierson-Hills, Miro Peters, Jason Leadbitter,Peter Hawkins, Hugh Pidgeon, Judi Marshall, Karl-Henrik Robèrt, Magnus Huss, Anna Emmelin, Brian Nattrass, Hilary Bradbury, George Basile, Sissel Waage, and Jill Rosenblum;
Rose Armson, for having a hand in the selection of my application for the studentship, for her companionship over its course, and for recognising the need for recognition. Rose and Tony Netherclift'shospitality, strong coffee and support sustained me in the decisive hours;
Those in and around the OU's Centre for Complexity and Change for their conversation and for contributing to a sociable academic department, particularly Magnus Ramage, Martin Reynolds, KarenShipp, Cathy Humphreys, Nicky Ison, Simon Blackmore, Fenella Porter, Seife Ayele, Rachel Slater,Alexandra di Stefano, Marion Helme, Rebecca Jones, Sarah Seymour-Smith, Maggie Scott, MaurizioFerrari, Jim Frederickson, Alan Thomas, Roger Spear, Dick Morris, Susan Carr, Stephen Potter, DaveWield, Sue Oreszczyn, and Clive Savory. In addition, I'd like to thank Pat for curing administrativeheadaches with grace and understanding, and Angela, Carol, Mary and Cilla for their amenability and for keeping their cool in the face of revolting students;
Alison Robinson and her team in the research school who helped out when circumstances changed for the worse;
Three pre-studentship teachers who left an impression: Anna Loveday Minshall (painting) who's healing presence turned my gaze towards light; Reverend Dr Fraser Watts (Theology), who must have saidsomething nice in his reference; and, Dr William Bloom (holistic practice) who's work continues to holda fascination;
Chris, Kirsten, Ewan and Robin High – I marvel at the timing of your entry into my life with gratitude;
Mike Aiken for extending the hand of friendship, for being the exemplary networker who has much toteach me, and whose combination of sensitivity and humour kept me going in darker PhD-days;
Friends who kept watch: Pins Brown, Joe Moffatt, Chris and (soon to be) Alex Romer-Lee, Rupert Pitt,Ewan Charlie and Viola Kerr, Chris and Lucy Spink, and those in Forest Row;
Three doctoral-level historians from Deutschland with whom I shared London living, reflections on life,and music: Cornelius Torp, Stefan Ludwig-Hoffmann, and Harald Fischer-Tiné;
My incredible cousin, Ashley Ramsden, his wife Kristin and their girls, and Ashley's partner in crime,Sue Hollingsworth, all of whom continue to give me food for thought on the nature of influence;
Geoff Douglas Mead, who encouraged me to consider my personality in the thesis; and,
My brother and his family in Uganda who have waited far too long for a visit.

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