A practitioner inquiry project to develop an emerging framework for conversational consulting through personal and collaborative inquiry and practice

DProf thesis


Cantore, S. 2014. A practitioner inquiry project to develop an emerging framework for conversational consulting through personal and collaborative inquiry and practice. DProf thesis Middlesex University Institute for Work Based Learning
TypeDProf thesis
TitleA practitioner inquiry project to develop an emerging framework for conversational consulting through personal and collaborative inquiry and practice
AuthorsCantore, S.
Abstract

This project is a practitioner inquiry into the practice of a form of organisational consulting that uses conversation as its primary contracting and change process. To provide a backdrop I begin by locating the practice in the management consulting domain, and specifically in an emerging field becoming popularly known as Dialogic Organisation Development. Conversation with the literature opens up the historical and theoretical assumptions that have shaped the field to date. Using this broad context I outline my consulting practice as an employee of the Office for Public Management Ltd (OPM). My interest in using conversation as a process in consulting relationships is described and my inquiry aims are outlined: 1. To develop my understanding of conversational consulting and the skills I need to practice it effectively. 2. To explore the potential of conversational inquiry approaches to support the development of conversational consulting skills amongst a group of management consultants (including myself). 3. To combine the learning from both individual and collective strands of research to offer management consultants an emerging framework that defines ‘Conversational Consulting’ more accurately, describes the practice in greater depth and helps them understand some of the ways in which they can develop the necessary skills to practice confidently and effectively. To support the achievement of these aims I begin by engaging in a conversation with the literature and focus particularly on social constructionist texts. This work reshapes my understanding of the potential of conversational consulting. I explain my rationale for selecting a participatory action research method called Co-operative inquiry. This is a framework involving consulting colleagues at OPM in a shared inquiry into the role of conversation in our practice. This report describes the inquiry process and how thematic analysis processes are applied to group meeting transcripts. My approach uses the first two inquiry aims as the lens through which I interpret the material. In parallel, I continue my own individual inquiry by maintaining a learning log and engaging in conversation with a client. This material is subject to a similar thematic analysis. The learning themes identified across all three elements contribute to an emerging framework with recommended activities to support the development of practice. The framework consists of three main elements, individual consulting practice development, collaborative development and learning with clients. I discuss how my original definition and understanding of conversational consulting has changed as a result of the project. My on-going commitment to inquiry and sharing my learning with others in the field is outlined alongside closing reflections on the experience and personal practice impact of the project.

Research GroupWork and Learning Research Centre
Department nameInstitute for Work Based Learning
Institution nameMiddlesex University
Publication dates
Print15 Jul 2014
Publication process dates
Deposited15 Jul 2014
CompletedMar 2014
Output statusPublished
Accepted author manuscript
Supplemental file
LanguageEnglish
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