Frank J. Barrett: The Social Construction of Organizing

Living reference work entry


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.


Organizational change Frank J. Barrett Social construction Discourse Improvisation 


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Further Reading

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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Assumption CollegeWorcesterUSA

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