Organization Development

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Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Organization Development (Ed.D.)

Type of Paper/Work



Stephen Brookfield; Alla Heorhiadi; Eleni Roulis


This is an emergent and auto-ethnographic study to find ways for the practice of organization development (OD) to recover and sustain humanism in the workplace. It begins with a literature review hermeneutically exploring the history and relevance of three modes of inquiry—hermeneutics, abductive reasoning, and action research—paratactically, which is to say, separately without overlap or reference to each other—to future OD practice. These three modes were selected from an extended literature search for non-reductive modes of inquiry that could address the range of human interests and workplace disease as I understand them. I combined my strong background reading on hermeneutics with the abductive reasoning of C. S. Peirce as two of the modes for review and also reflexively as part of my own methodology. The third mode, action research, is borrowed from the work of Kurt Lewin and his tradition in OD, known for its humanistic and democratic aims. Also included in the literature review is a report on the some of the more salient challenges and opportunities currently confronting the practice of organization development (OD) to provide a context for practical expression of my emerging discoveries. Following the literature review, I hermeneutically surfaced submerged, tacit (hidden-from-consciousness) generative connections from the confluence (flowing together) of the three modes, as they abductively emerged from within my expanding hermeneutic experience (known as a horizon) with the literature review. I then interpret the tacit relevance of that confluence through my life experience, for illuminating those OD challenges and opportunities. Finally this study integrates a sequence of critical hermeneutic and abductive processes in a participatory action research (PAR) pathway leading to plateaus of discovery and renewal through facilitation by humanistically oriented OD praxis. I conclude with five abduced interventions hypothetically drawn from personal case studies. My audience are OD practitioners inclined to develop wholistic humanism in the workplace through facilitative immersion with small groups and micro-cultures. Here they may find enlarged conceptual frames to reconceptualize OD, engage clients in transformative dialogue, and create actionable knowledge in their practice.


bricolage, hermeneutics, abduction, participatory action research, humanism, organization development

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