Frank J. Barrett: The Social Construction of Organizing

Living reference work entry

Abstract

The landscape of the organizational change literature provides a rich and diverse terrain of ideas, theories, and models for both researchers and practitioners. When embarking on this journey, one would benefit from the contributions of the seminal thinkers in the organizational change field. In this chapter, readers are introduced to Frank J. Barrett, professor of management and global policy at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monetary, CA. Barrett’s work provides an interesting and somewhat different approach to organizational change, which has been influenced by his early experiences in literature and jazz improvisation. Central to Barrett’s contributions is the social construction of organizing and change. Barrett has argued that our understanding of change can be deepened through a social constructionist approach that places discourse and meaning-making as central to the process of change. In making this argument, Barrett challenges the dominant model of change as a rational process. Much of Barrett’s contributions are also embedded in the idea that the shift from and industrial society to a postindustrial society has pressured organizations to find new ways to conceptualize and practice change. Barrett has used the metaphor of jazz improvisation as a way to engage in concepts, models, and practice of change. Readers will benefit from Barrett’s work, not only for an alternative view of organizational change, but as a way to deepen their understanding and creative capacity for organizing and change.

Keywords

Organizational change Frank J. Barrett Social construction Discourse Improvisation 

References

  1. Argyris, C. (1991). Teaching smart people how to learn. Harvard Business Review, 69(3), 99–109.Google Scholar
  2. Barrett, F.J. (1990). The development of the cognitive organization (Doctoral dissertation). Cleveland: Case Western Reserve University.Google Scholar
  3. Barrett, F. J. (1995). Creating appreciative learning cultures. Organizational Dynamics, 24(2), 36–49.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Barrett, F. J. (1996). The organizational construction of hegemonic masculinity: The case of the US Navy. Gender, Work and Organization, 3(3), 129–142.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Barrett, F. J. (1998a). Coda – Creativity and improvisation in jazz and organizations: Implications for organizational learning. Organization Science, 9(5), 605–622.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Barrett, F. J. (1999). Knowledge creating as dialogic accomplishment: A constructionist perspective. In A. Montouri & R. Purser (Eds.), Social creativity (Vol. 1, pp. 133–151). New York: Hampton Press.Google Scholar
  7. Barrett, F. (2012). Yes to the mess: Surprising leadership lessons from jazz. Boston: Harvard Business Review Press.Google Scholar
  8. Barrett, F. J., & Cooperrider, D. L. (1990). Generative metaphor intervention: A new approach for working with systems divided by conflict and caught in defensive perception. The Journal of Applied Behavioral Science, 26(2), 219–239.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Barrett, F. J., Thomas, G. F., & Hocevar, S. P. (1995). The central role of discourse in large-scale change: A social construction perspective. The Journal of Applied Behavioral Science, 31(3), 352–372.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Bartunek, J. M., & Moch, M. K. (1987). First-order, second-order, and third-order change and organization development interventions: A cognitive approach. The Journal of Applied Behavioral Science, 23(4), 483–500.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Barrett, F. J., & Srivastval, S. (1991). History as a mode of inquiry in organizational life: A role for human cosmogony. Human Relations, 44(3), 231–254.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Cooperrider, D. L., Barrett, F., & Srivastva, S. (1995). Social construction and appreciative inquiry: A journey in organizational theory. In D. Hosking, P. Dachlet, & K. Gergen (Eds.), Management and organization: Relational alternatives to individualism (pp. 157–200). Aldershot: Avebury Press.Google Scholar
  13. Gergen, K.J. (2009). Relational being: Beyond self and community. Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  14. Gergen, K. J., McNamee, S., & Barrett, F. J. (2001). Toward transformative dialogue. International Journal of Public Administration, 24(7/8), 697–708.Google Scholar
  15. Morgan, G. (1997). Images of organization. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications.Google Scholar
  16. Senge, P. (1990). The fifth discipline: The art & practice of learning organization. New York: Doubleday.Google Scholar
  17. Susman, G. I., & Evered, R. D. (1978). An assessment of the scientific merits of action research. Administrative Science Quarterly, 582–603.Google Scholar

Further Reading

  1. Arendt, H. (1958). The human condition. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  2. Barrett, F. J. (1998b). Managing and improvising: Lessons from jazz. Career Development International, 3(7), 283–286.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Barrett, F. J. (2000). Cultivating an aesthetic of unfolding: Jazz improvisation as a self-organizing system. In S. Linstead & H. J. Hopfl (Eds.), The aesthetics of organization (pp. 228–245). London: Sage Press.Google Scholar
  4. Barrett, F.J. (2007). Cultivating transformative collaboration. In Handbook of transformative cooperation: New designs and dynamics (Vol. 388).Google Scholar
  5. Barrett, F. J. (2015). Social constructionist challenge to representational knowledge: Implications for understanding organizational change. In G. Bushe & R. Marshak (Eds.), Dialogic organization development: The theory and practice of transformational change (Vol. 59). San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler.Google Scholar
  6. Barrett, F. J., & Fry, R. E. (2002). Appreciative inquiry and organizational transformation: Reports from the field. Westport, CT: Greenwood Publishing Group.Google Scholar
  7. Barrett, F. J., & Peplowski, K. (1998). Minimal structures within a song: An analysis of “All of Me”. Organization Science, 9(5), 558–560.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Barrett, F. J., & Peterson, R. (2000). Appreciative learning cultures: Developing competencies for global organizing. Organization Development Journal, 18(2), 10–21.Google Scholar
  9. Barrett, F., Cooperrider, D., & Fry, R. (2005). Bringing every mind into the game to realize the positive revolution in strategy: The appreciative inquiry summit. In B. Rothwell & R. Sullivan (Eds.), Practicing organizational change and development: A guide for consultants (p. 510). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. About This Book.Google Scholar
  10. Barrett, F. J., Powley, E. H., Pearce, B. (2011). Hermeneutic philosophy and organizational theory. In Philosophy and organization theory (pp. 181–213). Bingley, UK: Emerald Group Publishing.Google Scholar
  11. Bernstein, E. S., & Barrett, F. J. (2011). Strategic change and the jazz mindset: Exploring practices that enhance dynamic capabilities for organizational improvisation. Research in Organizational Change and Development, 19, 55–90.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Gergen, K. J. (1982). Toward the transformation in social knowledge. New York: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Gergen, K.J., Gergen, M.M., Barrett, F.J. (2004). Dialogue: Life and death of the organization. In The Sage handbook of organizational discourse, (pp. 39–59). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  14. Olson, J., & Barrett, F. (2005). Inventing the joint strike fighter. OD Practitioner, 37(1), 35.Google Scholar
  15. Powley, E. H., Fry, R. E., Barrett, F. J., & Bright, D. S. (2004). Dialogic democracy meets command and control: Transformation through the appreciative inquiry summit. The Academy of Management Executive, 18(3), 67–80.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Srivastva, S., & Barrett, F. J. (1986). Functions of executive power: Exploring new approaches, S. Srivastva and Associates, Executive Power. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.Google Scholar
  17. Srivastva, S., & Barrett, F.J. (1988a). Foundations for executive integrity: Dialogue, diversity, development. In Executive integrity: The search for high human values in organizational life (pp. 290–319).Google Scholar
  18. Srivastva, S., & Barrett, F. J. (1988b). The transforming nature of metaphors in group development: A study in group theory. Human Relations, 41(1), 31–63.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Srivastva, S., & Barrett, F.J. (1990). Appreciative organizing: Implications for executive functioning. In Appreciative management and leadership: The power of positive thought and action in organizations (pp. 381–400). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.Google Scholar
  20. Weick, K. E. (1998). Introductory essay – Improvisation as a mindset for organizational analysis. Organization Science, 9(5), 543–555.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Assumption CollegeWorcesterUSA

Personalised recommendations