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Making the Invisible Visible: OD Practitioners’ Interactive Drama In Forming a Sense of Professional Identity Donna M. Wocher, PhD Fielding Graduate University,

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Presentation on theme: "Making the Invisible Visible: OD Practitioners’ Interactive Drama In Forming a Sense of Professional Identity Donna M. Wocher, PhD Fielding Graduate University,"— Presentation transcript:

1 Making the Invisible Visible: OD Practitioners’ Interactive Drama In Forming a Sense of Professional Identity Donna M. Wocher, PhD Fielding Graduate University, AU/NTL OD Network Student Awards Colloquium November 1, 2011

2 Significance of the Study No license or specific degree is required Growing number of niches Overlapping professional identities Scant research on how OD practitioners form professional identity 11/1/20112 Copyright All rights reserved. Donna Wocher, PhD.

3 Research Question How do organization development practitioners form a sense of professional identity and what are the challenges and dilemmas they must manage to do so? 11/1/20113 Copyright All rights reserved. Donna Wocher, PhD.

4 How is identity being defined in this study? Symbolic Interactionism (SI) Identity is socially constructed Interaction or “talk” with others Open to negotiation and reconstruction Mead Blumer Cooley 11/1/20114 Copyright All rights reserved. Donna Wocher, PhD.

5 What kind of professional identity? (organization development practitioners) Engaged in activities to solve problems using behavioral scientific knowledge, theory and techniques with aim of making organization more effective Conduct detailed analysis and dispense advice, remedies, and recommendations to leaders, managers, employees within organizations 11/1/20115 Copyright All rights reserved. Donna Wocher, PhD.

6 What theories of identity are framing this study? Dramaturgical Framework (theater) Actors on a stage – “giving off” signals and behaviors – employing rhetoric and props – using norms and expectations – engaging in surface and deep acting Hochschild, 1983 Goffman, 1975 Burke, 1962 Phenomenological Sociology Life-worlds Coordinating meaning making Typifications We-relationship Schutz, 1970 Schutz & Luckmann, 1973 Berger & Luckmann, /1/20116 Copyright All rights reserved. Donna Wocher, PhD.

7 Research Approach and Methods Phenomenological Sociology (Schutz) – Varieties of life-worlds – Intersubjective and co-created – Individuals are always coordinating actions through shared stocks-of- knowledge and typifications to achieve specific goals or outcomes 11/1/20117 Copyright All rights reserved. Donna Wocher, PhD.

8 Key Concepts on Identity Socially constructed Negotiated and re-negotiated Coordinated meaning-making with others (we-relationships) “Giving-Off” signals and behaviors Using typifications and stocks-of-knowledge 11/1/20118 Copyright All rights reserved. Donna Wocher, PhD.

9 What is already known about identity formation of OD practitioners and others? Gottlieb (1997) – factors in role conduct Michas (2007) – personal account Management Consultants Counselors and Therapists 11/1/20119 Copyright All rights reserved. Donna Wocher, PhD.

10 Study Sample Selection Criteria Minimum 3 yrs experience Master’s degree Professional association Sample Recruiting Nominations from faculty & students Peer & self-nominations Conference & regional meetings Sample Characteristics Eleven women Five men Nine internal practitioners Seven external practitioners Ten worked in for-profit Four worked in not-for-profit Two cited working in both kinds Master’s degrees (16) PhD degrees (2) Years of practice ranged three to nine years (mode eight) 11/1/ Copyright All rights reserved. Donna Wocher, PhD.

11 Data Collection 1) one to two-hour open-ended interview in person or by telephone 2) picture and/or description of the symbolic object representing their identity 3) attitudinal survey to measure salience or importance of identity (Twenty Statement Test) 11/1/ Copyright All rights reserved. Donna Wocher, PhD.

12 Data Analysis Recorded interviews were transcribed Interpretive method (fundamental meaning units were assigned a code) Used gerunds to ensure “how” participants were enacting their identity as opposed to “what” Compare and contrast all 16 summary tables (group and code) Went back to literature and added additional frameworks and models 11/1/ Copyright All rights reserved. Donna Wocher, PhD.

13 Results and Findings Challenges and dilemmas left unresolved threatened and weakened commitment to the performance of OD role and resulted in feelings of disorientation and anxiety 11/1/ Copyright All rights reserved. Donna Wocher, PhD.

14 Challenges Credible and visible to clients Define nebulous field Handle internal emotions related to role performance Make distinctions between OD, employee relations, and training Paycheck or norms Age – signifier of competency 11/1/ Copyright All rights reserved. Donna Wocher, PhD.

15 Meaning-Making Tools Tangible (Instrumental) self assessments, surveys, flowcharts, data summaries, and so on educative materials and dog & pony shows Intangible (Expressive) elevator speeches, provocative one-liners, stories expressive tactics ~ commanding presence, assertive tones, confident directives 11/1/ Copyright All rights reserved. Donna Wocher, PhD.

16 Performance Genres (character types) 11/1/ Copyright All rights reserved. Donna Wocher, PhD.

17 Healer Shaman Healing Something that is Broken 11/1/ Copyright All rights reserved. Donna Wocher, PhD.

18 Metrics Maverick Illustrating Value 11/1/ Copyright All rights reserved. Donna Wocher, PhD.

19 Systems Designer Making Systems Visible and More Effective 11/1/ Copyright All rights reserved. Donna Wocher, PhD.

20 Analyst Oracle Uncovering Core Issues 11/1/ Copyright All rights reserved. Donna Wocher, PhD.

21 Truth Sayer-Sage Discussing the “Undiscussable” 11/1/ Copyright All rights reserved. Donna Wocher, PhD.

22 Self-Awareness Ally Creating Client Self-Awareness 11/1/ Copyright All rights reserved. Donna Wocher, PhD.

23 Performance Genres (character types) 11/1/ Copyright All rights reserved. Donna Wocher, PhD.

24 Performing and Forming 11/1/ Copyright All rights reserved. Donna Wocher, PhD.

25 OD Practitioner Identity Formation Continuum Orientation Accumulate knowledge Sell services Calm internal feelings Genuine confidence Minimize or eliminate threats Provide confirmation Find niche Disorientation Acquire clients Sell OD using academic language Oscillating anxiety and courage Feigning confidence Encounter threats to identity Dependent on confirmation Search for fit 11/1/ Copyright All rights reserved. Donna Wocher, PhD.

26 Findings Phases that OD practitioners experience in forming a sense of professional identity Identification and use of a variety of meaning making tools used by OD practitioners with clients in negotiating and simultaneously laying claim to the role of the OD practitioner Verification feedback from clients strengthened commitment to and the importance of the OD practitioner role while lack of confirmation from clients weakened identity formation of the OD practitioner role Conundrum of engaging in unethical work that violated the norms of the field in order to establish a track record and gain credibility Clinical Supervision 11/1/ Copyright All rights reserved. Donna Wocher, PhD.

27 Limitations Sample limited in diversity Qualitative interpretation Face-to-face and voice-to-voice 11/1/ Copyright All rights reserved. Donna Wocher, PhD.

28 Future Research Critical moment or junctures (disoriented/oriented) Movement of identity formation over the life/career span Client perspective 11/1/ Copyright All rights reserved. Donna Wocher, PhD.

29 Questions 11/1/ Copyright All rights reserved. Donna Wocher, PhD.

30 Contact Information Donna M. Wocher, PhD Identity Futures Creative Director and Founder Wocher Signature Style Assessment (beta) /1/ Copyright All rights reserved. Donna Wocher, PhD.

31 Thank You! Donna M. Wocher, PhD Fielding Graduate University, AU/NTL OD Network Student Awards Colloquium November 1, 2011


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