Chapter for Publication in The OD Handbook, Tom Cummings (Editor). Sage Publications.
Large Group Interventions:
Whole System Approaches to Organizational Change
Thomas J. Griffin
Ronald E. Purser
Large group interventions (LGIs) have, over the last decade, gained prominence and legitimacy in the field of organization development (Bunker and Alban, 1997). LGIs are essentially collaborative inquiries into organizational systems, practices, and processes that are designed to create alignment around strategic direction and system-wide issues. While there are many differences and varieties of LGI methods, they all share in common the values that have informed OD theory and practice, particularly the imperative for inclusiveness and widespread participation in the change process. Large group interventions have been used as an integral component in numerous organizational change efforts across a variety of applications, such as organization development, organization redesign, restructuring, strategic planning, visioning, values and principles clarification, process improvement, customer/supplier relations, global learning and development, and formation of collaborative alliances.
Many case studies describe how these organizational change methods have been used in diverse industries, such as transportation (Ford, Amtrak, United Airlines, Boeing, Northwest Airlines), hospitality (Marriott), financial services (World Bank, Bank of Montreal, Richmond Savings, Amalgamated Bank of South Africa), Health Care (Inova Health Systems, Columbus Regional Hospital), telecommunications (GTE, Lucent, AT&T, U.S. West, Motorola), retail (Levi Strauss, Liz Claiborne, General Electric, Donnelly, Xerox, Whole Foods), energy (Mobile, Detroit Edison, Pacific Power), government (U.S. Department of Agriculture), non-government (Save the Children, World Vision), education (George Washington University, University of Minnesota, Keene State University), computers and electronics (Microsoft, Hewlett-Packard), chemicals (Dupont), and many local, regional and state government organizations (Bunker and Alban, 1997; Holman and Devane, 1999; Chase, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998; Sullivan, 1997). Unfortunately, empirical research, such as longitudinal studies, quasi-experimental field studies, and studies of large sample sizes across a wide variety of LGIs are severely lacking. Data that is available tends to be anecdotal or single case studies from practitioners and consultants who have a commercial stake in promoting their own methods.
Basic Beliefs and Assumptions of LGIs
LGIs, also known as critical mass events, large group interactive events, whole systems change, and large-scale organizational change grew out of the field of Organizational Development (OD), evolving from OD practices that emerged in the 1950s. OD is a set of concepts and techniques for improving organizational effectiveness and individual well-being that had its genesis in the behavioral sciences and was tested in real-world organizations (French, Bell, and Zawacki, 1994). The theoretical influences that have informed LGIs can be traced to open systems theory and systems thinking (Bertalanffy, 1952; Emery & Trist, 1965; Katz & Kahn, 1978; Senge, 1990), social constructionism (Berger and Luckman, 1967; Gergen, 1994), values theory (Maslow, 1943; McGregor, 1960), futuring (Lippitt, 1983, Schlinder-Rainman and Lippitt, 1980), group dynamics (Bion, 1961, Bennis and Shepard, 1956, Lewin, 1951, Tuckman, 1965, Smith and Berg, 1987), and large group dynamics (Alford, 1989; Turquet, 1975; Pasmore and Fagans, 1992; Gilmore and Barnett 1992; Kreeger, 1975).
Senge further states that a systems thinking perspective is integral to the development of a learning culture and that firsthand experience of “undivided wholeness” is important to the development of a systems thinking perspective. Large group interventions provide organizations a means to put systems thinking into practice and to be part of a larger more holistic strategy for change. This is also consistent with the findings of Miller and Friesen (1984) who assert a holistic perspective for changing organizational structures and management systems requires an analysis of overall patterns, rather than focusing narrowly on isolated organizational properties. By intervening at the whole systems level we understand more than just the individual dynamics and ripple effects (Manning and Binzagar, 1996). LGIs get the whole system or a significant part of it in the room at the same time and design changes in shorter periods of time compared to traditional methods (Weisbord and Janoff, 1995).
The use of these methods required a paradigm shift on the part of the traditional change management practitioners about large group dynamics. A body of critical work related to large group dynamics has been emerging over the last 25 to 30 years. Groups are defined as large groups when it becomes impossible for each group member to maintain eye-to eye contact (Alford and Klein, 1989;Turquet, 1975). Gilmore and Barnett (1992) state that large group dynamics begin once a group exceeds 15 to 20 participants.
Systems change using large groups of people held a contrary view to what was normally accepted; that group size and participation were adversely related (Pasmore and Fagans, 1992; Gilmore and Barnett, 1992). According to these theories, large groups induce stereotyping, decrease ownership of ideas, increase abstraction, and generate hesitation to express unique thoughts (Weick, 1999). To overcome these beliefs, practitioners had to let go of these traditional assumptions about large groups and accept a systems thinking perspective.
Organizational development and change using large group methods goes against prior findings that group size and participation were adversely related (Pasmore and Fagans, 1992; Gilmore and Barnett, 1992). According to these theories, large groups induce stereotyping, decrease ownership of ideas, increase abstraction, and generate hesitation to express unique thoughts (Weick, 1999).
The conventional justification for using these processes is that (a) people tend to support what they help create (Weisbord and Janoff, 1995) and (b) the diversity of knowledge generated through these high involvement practices leads to greater creativity and innovation in both the technical and social systems arena (Bunker and Alban, 1997). The use of LGIs may also ensure the required changes in attitudes, skills, and beliefs, and behaviors happen simultaneously (Levine and Mohr, 1998). Inherent in the design of large group methods are the underlying assumptions that people want and will accept responsibility; have the creative ability and organizational knowledge to help solve problems and devise new ways of doing things; and, will take action towards the achievement of goals that they feel committed to. Large group methods extend high involvement management practices (Lawler, 1986) to its maximum in regards to decision making, sharing of information, sharing of power, and employee participation. These beliefs are also consistent with Lewin’s notion that the validity of research is improved when people in the setting become active participants in the meaning making process (Lewin, 1951).
The participatory assumptions cited above are reflective of many of the principles that have been the cornerstone of Organization Development theory and practice. However, such values towards inclusiveness, participation, egalitarianism, and power-sharing are not universally shared across national cultures. As Hofstede’s (xxxx) research has shown, national cultures that are low on power distance would not likely be receptive or supportive of LGIs which are designed to equalize power-sharing, minimize status differences, and promote high degrees of participation.
A core belief of LGI methods is that people want to make meaningful connections and to align themselves with organizations that are congruent with their values. The design of LGIs encourage people to engage in conversations in order to improve their work-group and organizational effectiveness (Emery and Purser, 1996; Weisbord and Janoff, 1995; Jacobs, 1994; Spencer, 1989; Axelrod, 2000, 1992; Pasmore, 1994; Purser and Cabana, 1998; Dannemiller and Jacobs, 1992; Cabana, 1995; Emery, 1995; Klein, 1992; Owen, 1992; Cooperrider and Whitney, 1998).
Varieties of LGI Methods
Bunker and Alban (1997) identified twelve large group methods for whole systems change (Search Conference, Future Search, Real Time Strategic Change, ICA Strategic Planning Process, The Conference Model, Fast Cycle Full Participation, Real Time Work Design, Participative Design, Simu-Real, Work-Out, Open Space Technology, and Large Scale Interactive Events). They divided these LGIs into three categories:
· Large scale systems methods for creating the future;
· Large scale systems methods for work redesign, and
· Large scale systems methods for discussion and decision-making.
Similarly, Holman and Devane (1999) outlined eighteen large group high-leverage (their notation) methods for navigating through change (Search Conference, Future Search, ICA, Strategic Forum, Participative Design Workshop, Gemba Kaizen, Fast Cycle Full Participation, Whole Systems Approach, Preferred Futuring, SimuReal, Organization Workshop, Whole-Scale Change, Dialogue, Open Space, Appreciative Inquiry, Conference Model, Think Like a Genius, and Real Time Strategic Change). They also divided these large-scale systems models into three categories:
· Planning methods to help set a direction for an organization or a community,
· Structuring methods to redefine working relationships among organization members and create new structures for doing work, and
· Adaptable methods that vary, including planning, structuring, and other complex, important purposes.
Both sources describe each method in detail, their distinguishing features and theoretical roots, potential use applications, and suggested resources for further study. At the center of all these methods is the recognition that the knowledge required for successful change resides within the stakeholders who comprise the organizational system. These methods use a systems approach to tap into organization member’s creative intelligence for shaping the future in meaningful and empowering ways through high levels of participation and information sharing; purposeful dialogue to create shared meaning, understanding, and context; shared decision making to build commitment and; focused action planning for timely implementation.
The primary practitioners of the most popular variations of large group interventions include:
1) Search Conference: The Search Conference, originally developed by Fred Emery and Eric Trist in the early 1960s, is a highly participative and democratic planning process that empowers organizations to identify, design, and enact its most desired future (Emery and Purser, 1996). Merrelyn Emery (1993), who is on the faculty of the Australian National University in Canberra, co-developed the methodology with her late husband over the last 30 years, and has conducted Search Conferences all over the world. In these events, people create strategic goals and action plans that develop the organization or system. A guiding principle of the Search Conference process is the chance for organization members to begin taking more responsibility and control of their circumstance. Unique to the Search Conference methodology is that it usually only involves 20-35 people, does not involve external stakeholders, and focuses a large amount of time on action planning (roughly one-third of the time).
Conferences: The goal in these meetings is to help the organization find an
ideal future and aim for it. The event
is typically scheduled for 16 hours over three days, and the ideal size is 64
people (eight tables with eight participants at each). Marvin Weisbord (1992) and Sandra Janoff ,
partners in the consulting firm Future Search Associates in
3) Conference Model: This comprehensive system involves up to four separate two- or three-day events. It is used to accomplish a top-to-bottom redesign of an organization and includes a customer/supplier conference, a vision conference (sometimes using future-search methodology), a technical conference, and a design conference. Richard Axelrod (2000; 1992), a partner in the Axelrod Group Inc., a consulting firm in Wilmette, IL, created this system. The method can be reconfigured to fit the needs of an organization;
Interactive Process: The late Kathleen Dannemiller (1992), formerly president
emeritus of Dannemiller Tyson Associates, a consulting firm in
Strategic Change: This approach grew out of Dannemiller's work in large-group
interventions and is likewise used to implement organization-wide change. It was developed by Robert Jacobs, a partner
with Five Oceans Consulting in
6) Open-Space Meetings: This is the least structured event. Its creator, Harrison Owen (2000; 1995; 1992), president of H. H. Owen and Co., a consulting company in Potomac, MD, calls it a technique for holding better meetings, not just large-group events. The group gathers, a blank page on the wall constitutes the agenda, and participants are encouraged to sponsor their own discussions by writing the title of their session on one of the many flip charts in the room. People then gravitate to the topic of their choice. The strengths of this method lie in the safety and openness of the space created for the discussion, says its creator. The weakness of Open Space is when someone tries to control the meeting or take it to a predetermined outcome;
7) Appreciative Inquiry: This approach focuses attention on expanding an organization’s capacity for positive change through inquiry into its positive core (strengths, gifts, and life-giving forces). David Cooperrider and Diana Whitney, cofounders of the Taos Institute, where Appreciative Inquiry is taught to consultants and leaders of change, are the most prolific practitioners of the methodology. Unique about this method is its unconditional focus on the positive and possibility oriented discourse as compared to traditional problem-oriented and deficit based approaches to change. (add AI summit bit here).
Methodological Differences Across LGIs
Although most large group methods possess a common set of fundamental beliefs and values, they do vary on core dimensions such as amount of structure, facilitator’s role, purpose of session, optimal number of participants, length of intervention, number of sessions, and use of outside speakers (Bunker and Alban, 1997). One of the more visible differences is the amount of structure that is used. For example, Miller (1994) states that large-scale interactive processes involve a lot of pre-planning work upfront. This includes determining everything from deciding which stakeholder groups need to be represented and specifically who should attend, topic selection, the issues to be dealt with, room arrangements and seating, and detailed agendas and task planning.
The conference model, a large-scale intervention created by Richard and Emily Axelrod (2000; 1992) is one of the most structured of all the LGIs. The conference model, used to completely redesign an organization, is composed of four consecutive large-scale conferences lasting from two to three days separated by a month between each conference. The first conference is used to create a vision of the organization’s preferred future and is similar to Future Search. The second conference is the customer/supplier conference, which allows the organization to hear from it most important stakeholders and examine the external forces that will shape the organization’s future direction. The third conference is a technical conference, which focuses on the organization’s core processes that are used to create and deliver essential products or services. The final conference is the design conference, which is used to design the new organization, including detailed action planning to support the new structure. Each conference has a detailed agenda, group exercises, scheduled presentations, and discussion time for table groups. In some cases, there is a fifth implementation conference. The months between each successive conference are used to communicate results and gain further input, these sessions are called “walkthroughs.”
In comparison to the more highly structured large group interventions, Open-Space Technology (OST) lies on the opposite end of the structure continuum. OST, invented by Harrison Owen (2000; 1995; 1992) has no up-front planning, no specific exercises, no defined agenda (just a topic to mobilize around), no tables, and few rules. Owens argues that organizations tend to be too rigid and over controlling. In open-space meetings, the large group is gathered in a room with people seated in a circle. OST operates on the assumption that effective dialogue occurs best when it is convened by people who have a stated interest in it. These same people if given an opportunity or space for dialogue about a topic or issue, are the most likely people to improve it. Therefore, anyone who wants to convene a discussion that relates to the general topic can do so by writing the subject on a flip chart and gathering with others who are also interested in it. In OST there are two guiding precepts: the one law and the four principles. The one law, is the law of two feet, says that if during the course of the gathering, any person who finds him or herself in a situation where they are neither learning nor contributing, they must use their two feet and go to a more productive place. It is otherwise know as the law of mobility. The law of two feet is liberating and places the responsibility for learning and contribution squarely on the shoulders of the participant. The four principles are:
OST leverages the informal (flexible, adaptive) structure that exists in every organization and recognizes that employees will often times get things done by skirting the formal (rigid, inflexible) structure rather than following established policies and procedures that are cumbersome and limit their productivity and effectiveness. During open space, structure emerges concurrently as the event proceeds. Rather than being dictated by external forces, it emanates from the adaptive self-organizing and relational processes that participants embrace when the right type of space is created.
Purpose is another key variant of LGIs. Bunker and Alban noted this difference when they divided LGIs into three categories:
· Large scale systems methods for creating the future;
· Large scale systems methods for work redesign, and
· Large scale systems methods for discussion and decision-making.
For example, The
Conference Model, Fast Cycle Full Participation Work Design, Real Time Work
Design, and Participative Design are large scale methods used to engage large
numbers of people in redesigning any aspect of a company's operations. The Search Conference, Future-Search, Real
Time Strategic Change, and the
Generally, LGIs focus on relevant and systemic system-wide issues that impact multiple constituencies throughout the organization, therefore a lot of work is done before, during, and after the event to ensure its success and institutionalization of the change. According to Bunker and Alban, selecting the right issue has to be important enough so that a critical mass of people has information to share on the subject as well as a strong desire to influence. They recommend taking your most important business issue and making it the focus of the event. Doing so brings relevance and context to the situation – meaning there is a good reason why people are there. They also stress that if the corporate culture is not participative, and likely never will be, a large group intervention will probably fail.
OD Principles and LGIs: Alignment, Common Ground, and Energy for Change
Real Time Strategic Change (RTSC) is a type of large group intervention that was developed by the late Kathleen Dannemiller with Sylvia James and Paul Tolchinsky (1999) in work done at Ford Motor Company. This approach is highly structured and organized with events grounded in giving participants a common database of information from which to work. Event design, although customized around a specific issue, is based on Richard Beckhard and Reuben Harris's change formula, as revised by Kathleen Dannemiller (2000; 1999; 1992) for diagnosing and planning a significant change, as seen in the formula:
Change = (Dissatisfaction)(Vision)(First Steps) > Resistance
Change is given the opportunity to occur when three elements are in place simultaneously, including:
If any of these elements is missing, or collectively they are less powerful than the resistance to the change, then change will not take place. Thus, the first part of an intervention focuses on creating a common database and the foundation for the dissatisfaction. Following that, the intervention moves to creating a future that is far more desirable than that which caused the dissatisfaction. It ends with participants discovering the steps that are necessary for moving the organization and themselves forward.
Jacobs (1994) further elaborates that the significance of the common database is that every perspective and skill set, from front-line worker to supplier to customer to executive to stockholder, is present during these events. As soon as information is shared and people get involved, action begins to happen. Jacobs refers to the creative energy that is generated in RTSC as “alignment,” and describes it as the point at which people begin to understand how the whole organization fits together as a total system.
Weisbord and Janoff (1995) refer to this sense of alignment participants of a future search conference experience as “common ground.” They say these events are designed to help organizations collaborate collectively to discover their ideal future and then design that future. In the future search conference, they claim that groups acknowledge their differences, work in spite of them, and move forward in areas where there is alignment and common ground. They describe the creative energy produced as transformative when groups decide to work beyond uncontrollable issues toward a more ideal future.
Kathleen Dannemiller (2000; 1999; 1992) refers to this sense of alignment and common ground as the "one brain, one heart" effect. She describes this as a very complex association of brain and heart that brings together a diverse group of individuals for a common purpose. Diana Whitney and David Cooperrider (1998) assert that in these events the search is not for common ground, but for a higher sense of possibility that excites, inspires, and drives action. They refer to this sense of higher possibility as “higher ground.” During appreciative interviews and small and large group dialogues, people are encouraged to identify the most moving, innovative, and meaningful ideas and possibilities, not the most frequent or most common. Doing so gets people excited and more inspired to follow through with actions, decisions, and more exciting future possibilities.
In these events, participants experience in very personal ways the highs and low of joy, hope, inspiration, connectedness, affiliation and empathy as well as at times confusion, discomfit, and differences. This rise and fall of emotion combined with creative thinking and the launching of shared action initiatives produces what has been previously described as alignment, common ground, creating community, the one brain one heart effect, and higher ground. When these effects are produced, people have a better understanding of how the whole system fits together and in turn can impact it in more profound and effective ways. The modes of organizing that these types of events represent also facilitates the alignment of both individual and organization core values and beliefs. Mohrman and Lawler (1985) suggest that a set of shared values and beliefs is critical to fostering cooperation, collaboration, and learning during change processes. When individual and organizational values and beliefs are closely aligned and integrated into organizational change efforts, ownership, commitment, and support for the change is intensified and resistance is minimized.
The alignment of values and beliefs between individuals and organizations is consistent with the concept of perceived organizational identity (Dutton et al., 1994). Perceived organizational identity is what the organizational member perceives to be distinctive, central, and enduring about the organization. It is an identification process that is socially constructed and represents the extent to which the organizational member defines themselves by the same attributes they believe define the organization. Dutton et al. (1994) further argue that organizational members identify with an organization when a) their identity as an organizational member is more important than alternate identities, and b) their self concept contains many of the same attributes they believe define the organization as an entity or social group. This identification leads organizational members to participate in and support activities that are congruent with that identity (Ashforth and Mael, 1989), resulting in favorable outcomes (Cialdini et al., 1976).
Unique Dilemmas and Dynamics in LGIs
Bunker and Alban (1997) discuss four dynamics of large groups that can occur that practitioners need to pay special attention to, they are:
1. The dilemma of voice (amount of individual airtime and the feeling of being heard) occurs primarily because in large groups people may feel like they have not had a real opportunity to speak or be heard. Because of this, people may feel marginalized and further withdraw from the group, even when they do have the opportunity to speak they don’t take advantage of it. Bunker and Alban also noted that the dilemma of voice possibly results in what has been described as diffusion of responsibility. Diffusion of responsibility is a phenomenon that asserts that as the number of people in a group increases, their individual sense of individual responsibility for the success of the group decreases and this impacts their behavior.
2. The dilemma of structure (amount needed to manage anxiety in the room and active
individual participation) can occur when there is either too much or not enough structure. Paradoxically, they state that if not enough structure is present in a situation that needs more structure, it is feared that anxiety will increase and people may act out. Alternately, if too much structure is present in situations that don’t need it, it is also feared that anxiety will increase and people may act out. The dilemma is not knowing how much anxiety is present in a group and how much structure is needed to manage it.
3. The egocentric dilemma (each person acting as though his or her reality is the only
true reality) occurs because individuals oftentimes view their worlds through their own limited experiences and filters. When people experience this dilemma they fail to view differences as potentially productive that could lead to more healthy and vital outcomes.
4. Affect contagion (experiencing and expressing feelings because one feels them vicariously in others). Positive or negative affect always has the possibility to spread in a large group setting. Contagion occurs when people who had differing experiences are fused with the same emotions. Turquet (1975, p. 375) describes the contagion effect as a condition of oneness where “members seek to join in a powerful union with an omnipotent force, unobtainably high, to surrender self for passive participation, and thereby feel existence, well-being, and wholeness.
In response to the dynamics created by these dilemmas, LGIs manage these considerations by: a) using many small group processes to stimulate and encourage involvement and participation; b) using principles of self-management and democratic methods to take responsibility for task outcomes; c) maximizing opportunities for individual choice making through voting and other individual selection methods; d) use of large group report out to create share understanding and group learning; e) considering the right amount of structure to contain anxiety and maximize productiveness; and f) encouraging diversity, holistic thinking, and collaboration through group member selection.
Key Propositions Underlying Large Group Interventions
Diversity brings fresh ideas, alternative views, contrasting opinions,
healthy dissent, dissimilar resources, and new options to any situation. Incorporating diversity helps stimulate growth,
evolution, health, vitality, and common good, as well as encouraging tolerance,
constructive conflict, and the valuing of differences. In LGIs, a diversity and plurality of views
and perspectives enriches a shared inquiry and promotes constructive dissent. Valuing differences is maximized through the
use of effective dialogue and relational practices. Dialogue promotes a deeper, more profound
understanding of a system’s diversity, which contributes to greater health, and
appreciation of the whole. LGIs provide
organizational members the opportunity to communicate and collaborate across
these differences to build community and consensus towards a higher purpose and
a common good. LGIs seek wholeness
through the incorporation of diversity (
Diversity is also a necessary attribute for systemic synergy. When diverse perspectives in a system are present, there is a dynamic energy that is produced. The dynamic energy that is produced by the synergy stimulates the creation of new ideas, creative conflict, and options for action that otherwise might have been overlooked. In other words for a system to synergize and function optimally as a coherent whole, its parts have to effectively relate to each other and to the whole. To disregard looking at the systems parts in relation to the larger system to which it belongs, is to distort its purpose and meaning in conjunction with the whole.
LGIs provide organizations with opportunities to promote the use of its diversity to the fullest. The use of individual strengths, gifts, and talents for the good of the whole promotes a sense of openness, inclusion, and trust that is essential to the collective health, well being, and sustainability of the whole and its ability to adapt and flourish in an ever changing world.
Relational practices that promote a greater sense of wholeness hold enormous implications for the field of Organizational Development and in particular the study of Large Group Interventions. Social constructionism (Berger & Luckman, 1966: Gergen, 1982, 1990, 1994, 1998; Burr, 1995; Coperrider & Srivastva, 1987) suggests that individual and organizational reality is constructed through social exchange and interaction. This perspective takes the position that conversation and relational practices are the primary medium through which sense making occurs. For example, Gergen (1999) asserts that social constructionism is reflective inquiry, or a form of investigation that helps one to reflect critically and appreciatively on one’s condition, traditions, institutions, and relationships. Social constructionism is also a way of thinking about the universe and everything in it. Gergen (1982; 1999) believes if patterns of action are to be changed, one significant means of doing so is through altering forms of discourse and social interaction. It encourages people to look at the world in a different way and to consider that the things believed to be significant and true might be regarded in a different light by someone looking from another perspective (Danziger, 1997).
The implications for organizational change and development are very clear. If wholeness is inseparable from social engagements and relationships, if meaning-making occurs through relational (social constructionist) practices, then OD scholar-practitioners must continually strive to transform and improve the way in which people relate to one another particularly in the context of organizational change efforts. This means exploring new forms of constructionist dialogues, participative approaches, and relational (communal) practices that promote inclusiveness, interpersonal connection, and wholeness (unity, harmony, and integrity). Social constructionist practices offer an important bridge to understanding and promoting wholeness, particularly in the context of Large Group Interventions by examining and altering the social settings in which social relations take place. If the social constructionist notion that shared constructions and social relations are key to change and transformation, then social settings that are marked by fractured social activity and or oppressive social relations, as in the case of many organizational settings, present troubling developmental barriers (Gergen, 1998).
The opportunities for future research regarding wholeness within the context of organizations are considerable. Varying theoretical and academic perspectives suggest that the “organizational wholeness” or “organizational health” is a phenomenon that is not fully understood and perhaps never will be through detached forms of inquiry. Questions such as: “What does it take to become whole again?” “How do organizations become whole?” or “How can organizations continuously promote a sense of wholeness?” provoke responses that are both multifaceted and highly complex. Wholeness surely applies to many levels and in many different dimensions that are not as yet fathomed. Compelling research possibilities include studying how wholeness is experienced on individual, organizational, and societal levels. While wholeness exists in and on these various dimensions and levels, most illustrative definitions tend to offer static and superficial descriptions that limit the significance of its meaning for social scientific purposes. Further work should focus on elucidating new forms of description that further the understanding and presentation of wholeness in more interesting ways that that enlarges the body of knowledge about this topic and the field of Organizational Development in general.
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