Five theories of change embedded in appreciative inquiry

Author: G Bushe
Editor: D Cooperrider , P Sorensen , D Whitney , T Yaeger

In Appreciative Inquiry: Rethinking human organization toward a positive theory of change
Date: 01/01/1999

Annotation: Bushe describes five different ways of thinking about how an appreciative inquiry can create change in social systems. These are the social construction of reality, heliotropic hypothesis, the organizational inner dialogue, paradoxical dilemmas and appreciative process theories of change. Each directs us to different ways of thinking about and implementing an appreciative inquiry when our purpose is developmental change. The key data collection innovation of appreciative inquiry is the collection of people’s stories of something at it’s best. If we are interested in team development, we collect stories of people’s best team experiences. If we are interested in the development of an organization we ask about their peak experience in that organization. If enhanced leadership is our goal, we collect stories of leadership at its best. We need to embrace different ways of inquiring appreciatively but to do so, we need theory that tells us what ways will work — how and why. In this paper, Bushe offers a way to begin thinking about these questions.

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