Focussed dialogue (as lived and living practices) can have a powerful role in renewing professional practice, advancing its sustainability and development as administrative and political systems colonise the practices of teachers and teacher educators. However, participating in discussion groups for many teachers, including those in academia, is often constrained by time demands, workplace structures and accountabilities. This paper reports a two year empirical case study investigating the transformative nature of dialogues experienced in one such focused discussion group. The dialogic practices of the group aimed firstly to provide a communicative space for its participants to interrogate and interpret factors which enable and constrain teaching and research practices; secondly, to critique practices as a form of collective professional learning; and thirdly, to study the educational practices of its members from within their own practice tradition. To do this it describes the nature of discussion groups. Findings reveal that creating communicative space for discussion enables professional learning and agency through critical and transformative dialogues.
In this article, I draw on current scholarship about leadership for social justice, to develop a framework intended to help educational leaders think about leading for social justice. I critically examine some ways in which the status quo marginalizes large numbers of students and their families, preventing them from being heard or even acknowledged. I suggest that transformative educational leaders may foster the academic success of all children through engaging in moral dialogue that facilitates the development of strong relationships, supplants pathologizing silences, challenges existing beliefs and practices, and grounds educational leadership in some criteria for social justice. Bakhtin suggests that entering into a relationship and participating in dialogue with another person is the means by which one may overcome “closedness” and achieve understanding. For Bakhtin, depth of understanding only occurs when we encounter difference and deal with it in ways that address its meanings:
“A meaning only reveals its depths once it has encountered and come into contact
with another, foreign meaning: they engage in a kind of dialogue, which
surmounts the closedness and one-sidedness of these particular meanings,
Although leadership for social justice and distributed leadership have separately garnered a great deal of interest among educational administration scholars, no studies have explored the possible conceptual and empirical links between these important and promising areas of inquiry. This study draws from extant literature to suggest an exploratory conceptual framework designed to investigate distributed leadership practice for social justice; it then explores the efficacy of the framework using data from an ethnographic study of leadership practice conducted in an urban high school. Findings suggest that the framework has potential for explaining social justice leadership practice as the context-specific and situation-bound work of formal and informal leaders throughout an organization.
In this paper, I want to argue for the importance of considering materiality in our studies of knowledge in organizations. In particular, I want to make the case that our understanding of organizational knowledge, learning, and capabilities is limited to the extent that we disregard or downplay the critical role of material forms, artifacts, spaces, and infrastructures in everyday knowledgeable practice. I have two aims in this paper: (i) to highlight how and why materiality matters and why we should take it seriously; and (ii) to briefly illustrate how my colleagues and I have been exploring materiality in our studies of knowledge work in our research projects. The view of knowledge that I adopt here is a performative, not a representational one. From this perspective, knowledge is not an external, enduring, or essential substance — but a dynamic and ongoing social accomplishment. This is a view of knowing in practice that is receiving much attention by a number of researchers in the field (e.g., Blackler; Lave; Nicolini and Yanow; Tsoukas). It leads us to focus on knowledge not as static or given, but as a capability produced and reproduced in recurrent social practices.
In this paper, I outline a perspective on knowing in practice which highlights the essential role of human action in knowing how to get things done in complex organizational work. The perspective suggests that knowing is not a static embedded capability or stable disposition of actors, but rather an ongoing social accomplishment, constituted and reconstituted as actors engage the world in practice. In interpreting the findings of an empirical study conducted in a geographically dispersed high-tech organization, I suggest that the competence to do global product development is both collective and distributed, grounded in the everyday practices of organizational members. I conclude by discussing some of the research implications of a perspective on organizational knowing in practice.
I have argued that paying attention to organizational knowing might complement our understanding of organizational effectiveness by highlighting the essential role of situated action in constituting knowing in practice. In particular, we might learn some useful insights about capabilities if we also focus on what people do, and how they do it, rather than focusing primarily on infrastructure, objects, skills, or dispositions. Understanding organizational knowing in practice may get us closer to an understanding of organizational life as “continually contingently reproduced by knowledgeable human agents—that’s what gives it fixity and that’s what also produces change”.
Much of the research on media use in organizations has tended to focus on the use of one medium in isolation from the other media in the organization. Yet the proliferation of communication technologies, especially Internet-based technologies, combined with work configurations such as hybrids of virtual and co-located work, has made it more likely that organizational members will use multiple media, in various combinations, to communicate. This study of a regional facilities group in a Fortune 500 company explores how the use of both single and multiple media in a hybrid work configuration can facilitate a variety of rich and complex interactions. Focusing on the conversation as the unit of analysis, we found that organizational members used single and multiple media to support individual as well as concurrent interactions. We propose the notion of conversational scaffolding to describe how organizational members engaged with various media alone and in combination to accomplish both individual and concurrent conversations.
This article introduces some of the main concepts and methods of the science studying complex, self-organizing systems and networks, in a non-technical manner. Complexity cannot be strictly defined, only situated in between order and disorder. A complex system is typically modeled as a collection of interacting agents, representing components as diverse as people, cells or molecules. Because of the non-linearity of the interactions, the overall system evolution is to an important degree unpredictable and uncontrollable. However, the system tends to self-organize, in the sense that local interactions eventually produce global coordination and synergy. The resulting structure can in many cases be modeled as a network, with stabilized interactions functioning as links connecting the agents. Such complex, self-organized networks typically exhibit the properties of clustering, being scale-free, and forming a small world. These ideas have obvious applications in information science when studying networks of authors and their publications.
This paper describes our attempt to develop a pedagogical practice informed by the concepts of complexity applied to education. The context of our study was the science methods course within an elementary teacher education program. The practice, described here, has overlapped instruction and assignment; teaching and learning; science and the arts; formal and informal education. Prospective teachers, while working in teams of 4–5, taught mini-lessons about science topics to 6th and 7th graders in field settings, and then, collaboratively with the children, produced scientific/artistic digital videos about these topics. As a next step, prospective teachers shared their teaching experiences, classroom observations, and self-produced videos with their university peers. Upon completing this practice, many prospective teachers have changed their ways of thinking about science and science education. We discuss how this practice is informed by and further informs such concepts of complexity as self-organization, chaotic attractors, fluidity, fuzzy boundaries, the edge of chaos, improvisation, adaptation, and transformation.
There is now a developed and extensive literature on the implications of the ‘complexity frame of reference’ for education in general and pedagogy in particular. This includes a wide range of interesting contributions which consider how complexity can inform, inter alia, research on educational systems and theories of learning, as well as work dealing with specific pedagogical domains including physical education, clinical education and in particular the learning of clinical teams, and learning in relation to systems engineering. This material has contributed considerably to my thinking about the subject matter of this essay which is not the implications of complexity for pedagogy but rather how we might develop a pedagogy OF complexity and, more specifically, a pedagogy of what Morin has called ‘general’ (as opposed to ‘restricted’) complexity. In other words how should we teach the complexity frame of reference to students at all appropriate educational levels?
The article aims at explicating the emergence of human interactional sense‐making process within educational leadership as a complex system. The kind of leadership is understood as a holistic entity called collaborative leadership. There, sense‐making emerges across interdependent domains, called attributes of collaborative leadership. The attributes give rise to the complex system. They are suggested to be the very agents, i.e. both the source and the outcome of the synergetic sense‐making process. Hence, the agents are not the single persons involved who, however, supply the collective attributes that are modified through human interaction in a holistic way. For studying the emergence process in reality, a long‐term development process within an educational executive team was exploited. The team aimed at co‐creating novel leadership thinking and working practices for its new unit after a merger of separated schools. The emergent sense‐making process was examined through such agent‐attributes that were identified as attractors within the complex system. Moreover, it is argued that illuminating the complex system of collaborative leadership, this can help other leadership teams to better understand their own sense‐making processes in the increasingly complex settings of today.
Rhizoanalysis is introduced here as a way of processing through an assemblage involving research methodology, data generation and analytical possibilities entwined within. In concert, rhizomethodology is presented as a way of working (with) data, complexly; a way of putting the Deleuzo‐Guattarian philosophical imaginary of rhizome to work. With/in/alongside this rhizomethodological approach, which I employed in my doctoral thesis, rhizoanalysis (as both process and product) is concurrent, becoming the inquiry of the research, (e)merging through the whole research process. In this everything is always already happening – dynamic, changing, in flux – disrupting any (mis)conception of rhizoanalysis as a specifically definable process with distinct and reproducible outcomes. Rather, there is an ongoing intermingling of data, methodology and analysis enmeshed with theorising the literature and practicing the theory, in which each becomes the/an/other. In this article I (re)turn to parts of the never ending slip‐sliding (ad)venture of my doctoral research.
The Reggio Emilia perspective shifts the focus of the classroom away from the teacher and onto the students, viewing children as capable, self‐reliant, intelligent, curious, and creative. This approach also treats the classroom as the ‘third teacher’, encouraging teachers to take a great deal of care in the creation and setup of the environment of the classroom and the materials that are introduced. Finally, this approach positions the teacher as a researcher, documenting the children’s relationships and interactions with people, ideas and materials in the classroom.
Emergence, a vital phenomenon of evolution, has been the primary focus of numerous pioneer complexity researchers. In this study, the complexity-intelligence and emergence-intelligence linkages are scrutinised. Encompassing and exploring spaces of high complexity by human organisations requires a better comprehension of emergence and the new intelligence leadership strategy. As humanity is encountering edges of chaos more frequently, and interacting agents in human organisations are also becoming more intelligent entities, a transformation in leadership mindset and management strategy is inevitable. This analysis confirms that leadership can be rendered more effective if intelligence, complexity, emergence, autopoiesis and self-organisation are concurrently exploited. In this respects, the effective self-organising ability of the human organisations is a new critical success factor. Thus, being able to nurture the deliberate-emergence ‘auto-switch’ and achieving a higher level of strategic complexity-competitiveness and sustainability is a new challenge. In this case, the effective leaders are those that channel a significant amount of time and resources into exploring and exploiting the complexity-emergence-intelligence relationships more holistically at all time. Thus, in summary, an intelligence leader is one that possesses the intelligence mindset, concentrates on third-order mental stability, makes preparation for edges of chaos, exploits spaces of high complexity, recognises the space-time interdependent criticality and also focuses on longer-term survival and sustainability.
A broad consensus prevails today among science communities that we have entered an era known as ‘the Anthropocene’. For the first time, the outer limit or tipping point in Nature’s capacities to adapt to the destruction of its essential resources is in sight (e.g., grave depletion of the Earth’s biodiversity and loss of a ‘safe’ nitrogen cycle). Over the past two centuries in particular, humanity has dramatically altered the Earth’s atmosphere and natural landscape, becoming in the process a formidable geological force of change in its own right. The fact that humankind today is the most significant source of change in planetary terms requires a reflective moment. We are now in the rather daunting position of determining how this tectonic shift will shape the future of this planet and its populations. This position raises serious moral questions as to how ideas of justice should be redefined in response to rapidly changing ecological circumstances (e.g., grave loss of land and other essential resources on the part of many communities) as well as what kind of ‘Anthropocene futures’ we are shaping for generations to come. As Strydom notes in his article ‘Cognitive fluidity and climate change’, humanity is not only tasked with the challenge of mastering an objectivist knowledge of nature’s outer limits but also of complementing scientific understanding of the biological, chemical and physical substance of life with a more reflexive hermeneutic reconstruction of how humanity has arrived at this point of destruction in its historical development. If this moment of crisis is to be transformative, then such reflection must also be critical and disclosing of those underlining aspects of modern social life that contribute detrimentally to human ecological destruction.
Resilience is the ability to recover from a shock, insult or disturbance. The concept of resilience originating from physics lately found a widespread application. From a management perspective and especially in reference to the practice of managing complexity, two developments are of interest. These are firstly the application of the resilience concept in psychology and secondly the application to organisational sciences. Resilient practice as an answer to the challenges of complexity is promising. And although we can refer to ancient Zen practices we have to admit that for management we are standing at the very beginning of an endeavour into the unknown. We know that we have to take on this challenge if we not only want to be prepared but also be able to meet the great challenges of our time which are not smaller than global, for example, climate change, the dynamics of financial markets, epidemic diseases, poverty and famine, to name just a few. We need to understand what a resilient practice in management may be. We need to engage in new practices until we can master it. And we need to develop a systemic understanding of social complexity capable of innovating and improving not only the practices of complex project management, but of management in general.
Despite current ads and slogans, the world doesn’t change one person at a time. It changes as networks of relationships form among people who discover they share a common cause and vision of what’s possible.This is good news for those of us intent on changing the world and creating a positive future. Rather than worry about critical mass, our work is to foster critical connections. We don’t need to convince large numbers of people to change; instead, we need to connect with kindred spirits. Through these relationships, we will develop the new knowledge, practices, courage, and commitment that lead to broad-based change. But networks aren’t the whole story. As networks grow and transform into active, working communities of practice, we discover how life truly changes, which is through emergence. When separate, local efforts connect with each other as networks then strengthen as communities of practice, suddenly and surprisingly a new system emerges at a greater level of scale. This system of influence possesses qualities and capacities that were unknown in the individuals. It isn’t that they were hidden; they simply didn’t exist until the system emerges. They are properties of the system, not the individual, but once there, individuals possess them. And the system that emerges always possesses greater power and influence than is possible through planned, incremental change. Emergence is how life creates radical change and takes things to scale.
The power of the un-aided, individual mind is highly overrated: The Renaissance scholar no longer exists. Although creative individuals are often thought of as working in isolation, the role of interaction and collaboration with other individuals is critical to creativity. Creative activity grows out of the relationship between individuals and their work, and from the interactions between an individual and other human beings. Because complex problems require more knowledge than any single person possesses, it is necessary that all involved stakeholders participate, communicate, collaborate, and learn from each other. Distances (across spatial, temporal, and technological dimensions) and diversity (bringing stakeholders together from different cultures) are important sources for social creativity. This paper describes conceptual frameworks and socio-technical environments in which social creativity can come alive.
The European crisis has provoked widespread critique of capitalist arrangements in most if not all countries in Europe. But to what extent do contemporary social protest and critique indicate a revival of critical capacity? The range of criticisms against the existing capitalist system raised by various social movements is seen as ineffectual and fragmented. Such observations are mirrored in sociological analyses of the critique of capitalism. A distinct type of critique of capitalism has, however, not been explicitly conceptualized. This political critique, denouncing the depoliticization and the erosion of autonomy resulting from capitalist arrangements, indicates the crucial role of the political in formulating common projects. The article will, first, briefly discuss Boltanski and Chiapello’s historical identification of forms of critique of capitalism as well as the contemporary relevance of these. In a second step, it will conceptualize and in a way recuperate a political critique of capitalism. In a third step, it will show that the contours of a critique that explicitly refers to the political is available in the contemporary European context, not least in claims made by movements that pursue a ‘Europe of the Commons’ and an ‘alternative Europe’.
Neoliberalism’s project of making the market the model for all modern freedoms means that critique needs to be able to unmask the distortions and to weigh the costs of its cultural appropriations and resignifications. This diagnostic/evaluative task presents a seeming challenge to the sociologist who is also answerable to scientific purposes that demand objectivity and impartiality. This article investigates two very different attempts to grasp this nettle. It contrasts Peter Wagner’s proposal to reclaim critique as ‘an essential feature of the social sciences’ with Axel Honneth’s call for a reinvigoration of the ‘sociologizing dimension’ of a critical theory tradition. It is argued that neither approach is fully adequate to the challenges set by neoliberalism. The final section of the article suggests that to demonstrate the efficacy of sociology’s contribution to a critique of neoliberalism we need to review the relationship between theoretical reflection and everyday thinking and permit the former to do more analytic/evaluative work.
I’ve written quite a few blogs and pieces on digital technology and democracy – most recently on the relevance of new-style political parties. Here I look at the practical question of how parliaments, assemblies and governments should choose the right methods for greater public engagement in decisions. One prompt is the Nesta-led D-CENT project which is testing out new tools in several countries, and there’s an extraordinary range of engagement experiments underway around the world, from Brazil’s parliament to the Mayor of Paris. Tools like Loomio for smallish groups, and Your Priorities and DemocracyOS for larger ones, are well ahead of their equivalents a few years ago. A crucial question is whether the same tools work well for different types of issue or context. The short answer is ‘no’. Here I suggest some simple formulae to ensure that the right tools are used for the right issues; I show why hybrid forms of online and offline are the future for parliaments and parties; and why the new tools emphasise conversation rather than only votes.