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Organizational conditions leading to transformative practice: Findings from a multi-case study, action research investigation University of Miami SPEC.

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Presentation on theme: "Organizational conditions leading to transformative practice: Findings from a multi-case study, action research investigation University of Miami SPEC."— Presentation transcript:

1 Organizational conditions leading to transformative practice: Findings from a multi-case study, action research investigation University of Miami SPEC Team – Isaac Prilleltensky – Ora Prilleltensky – Scot Evans – Adrine McKenzie – Debbie Nogueras – Randy Penfield – Corinne Huggins – Nick Mescia

2 What is transformative practice? In the context of community, educational, health, and human service organizations, we define transformative practice as consisting of four principles – Strengths – Prevention – Empowerment – Community change

3 4/25/2015 Prilleltensky3 DRAIN VS. SPEC APPROACHES Drain Approach Deficits-based Reactive Alienating Individualistic Problems Too little Too late Too costly Too unrealistic SPEC Approach Strengths-based Primary Prevention Empowerment Community change Opportunity Built to last Starts early and saves $$$ Creates civic engagement Builds social movement

4 Quadrant III Examples: Crisis work, therapy, medications, symptom containment, case management Quadrant I Examples: Community development, affordable housing policy, recreational opportunities, high quality schools and accessible health services Quadrant II Examples: Skill building, emotional literacy, fitness programs, personal improvement plans, resistance to peer pressure in drug and alcohol use Quadrant IV Examples: Food banks, shelters for homeless people, charities, prison industrial complex Collective Proactive Individual Reactive Time and place of interventions THIS IS WHERE WE ARE THIS IS WHERE WE NEED TO BE

5 Quadrant I Examples: Voice and choice in celebrating and building competencies, recognition of personal and collective resilience Quadrant II Examples: Voice and choice in deficit reduction approaches, participation in decisions how to treat affective disorders or physical disorders Strength Empowerment Deficit Detachment Focus and engagement in interventions Quadrant III Examples: Labeling and diagnosis, “patienthood” and clienthood,” citizens in passive role Quadrant IV Examples: Just say no! You can do it! Cheerleading approaches, Make nice approaches THIS IS WHERE WE ARE THIS IS WHERE WE NEED TO BE

6 Context of Investigation Action research with 5 community based organizations (CBOs) to promote Strengths, Prevention, Empowerment, Community Change Three year study consisting of 1.Training 2.Team work 3.Consultation 4.Professional development 5.Action research

7 Context of Investigation Organizations selected on basis of “readiness” Organizations consist of – Major local funder (MF) – Major provider of health services for poor (HS) – Organization that promotes early interventions (EI) – Local civic coalition (LC) – Local human service (HS) Budgets range from $ 1 million to over $ 100 million Personnel ranges from 15 to 700

8 Context of Investigation Intervention components 1.Training Each organization sends reps to 18 person class 3 hours biweekly Lecture, discussion, application 2.Team work Transformation teams meet biweekly 3.Consultation A researcher assigned to each organization Weekly or biweekly consultations 4.Professional development 5.Action research

9 Research Design Action Goal of overall project: Promote SPEC practices in organizations to improve community well-being Research Goals of overall project: – Assess whether organizations become more aligned with SPEC principles as a result of interventions – If so, how Data collection – Quantitative and qualitative methods at baseline, year one, and end of project Goal of present study: Examine organizational conditions leading to SPEC based on qualitative data gathered through interviews, focus groups, and field notes with about 80 different participants in the five organizations




13 Findings: Organizational Conditions for Transformative Practice

14 Organizational Conditions for Transformative Practice

15 Climate Effective – Enabling structures; good communication; timely completion of tasks; efficiency; accountability and follow-through, etc. – Most of the organizations noted at least some deficiency in this domain, including duplication of efforts; inconsistent policies; and bureaucracy Reflective – Learning opportunities; organizational learning; asking “big questions”; challenging old notions; evaluating practice, etc. – Organizations vary on this dimension, with some presenting as highly reflective and others describing an environment where there is insufficient trust to challenge old notions and practices. (“you ain’t gonna rock the boat.”) Affirmative – Climate of acceptance and appreciation; employee strengths are highlighted and utilized; voice and choice; sense of control; team work and conviviality – Distinction made between voice and choice in a number of organizations where empowerment is espoused as an organizational value, but not always practiced well. – In other organizations, staff empowerment is not even part of the organizational radar.

16 Resources Human – Adequate number of workers to meet demands; high skill level; capacity; dedication; motivation; initiative – Largely described workers as caring, conscientious and committed to meeting the needs of their constituents – Variable level of skill across organizations – Concern in some organizations that people are spread too thin due to a broad, overly ambitious mission Financial – Adequate financial resources to support positions; programs; etc. – A major barrier for most organizations in the current economic climate – Cuts in positions and lack of job security are a source of strain – For funding organizations, ongoing concern to make sure investments provide good return Organizational – Appropriate organizational structures to meet vision and mission; adequate time, space, etc. – Most organizations described as committed to vision and mission – Some noted that rapid and poorly communicated policy changes lead to inconsistent practices and poor PR with other agencies – In one case, solicitation of input from “boots on the ground” was seen as a necessary condition for improved buy-in to vision and mission

17 Support and Legitimacy Leadership for SPEC – Leadership provides legitimacy and support to SPEC principles and practices; leader(s)“walk the talk” in their support of the vision and mission of the organization – Organizations whose leaders are involved in all aspects of the SPEC training (class, T-Team, etc.) experience greater legitimacy and support for SPEC practices and principles – Lower level of leaders involvement is associated with fewer SPEC practices Board support and legitimacy for SPEC – Board of Directors provides legitimacy and support to SPEC principles and practices ; board members“ walk the talk” in their support of the vision and mission of the organization – Some describe difficulties in dealing with board members who come from a corporate background and unfamiliar with nonprofit – Some board members advocate for special interest groups Funder support for SPEC – Funders provide legitimacy and support to SPEC principles and practices; funders “walk the talk” in their support of the vision and mission of the organization – Some indication that funders may not always walk the talk, despite the theoretical support of SPEC; some feel micromanaged by funders

18 Consciousness Justice – Organization espouses a justice orientation; considers issues of fairness and justice in understanding community problems and devising solutions – Large variation between organizations. For some, themes of “economic justice” and “social justice” are espoused and central to the organizational mission. For others, justice is described as enabling access to services, regardless of client background, legal status, etc. Power – Organization is highly aware of power issues in the community; sensitive to how differences in power affect voice, choice and wellbeing; considers power issues when understanding problems and devising solutions – Awareness and sensitivity to power issues in the community are at times inconsistent with internal practices with employees. Ecology – Organization espouses an ecological orientation; considers personal, organization, and systemic factors in understanding problems and devising solutions – A shared understanding that social and economic conditions are at the root of people’s struggles does not always translate to more systemic organizational practices

19 Discussion Study begins to identify necessary and sufficient conditions for transformative practice Contribution to community psychology approaches to system change: not just generic, but also specific conditions are necessary to promote justice and social change (see special issue AJCP on systems change June 2007, v. 39 ¾) Contribution to organizational development: literature focuses mainly on for profit and ameliorative not for profits. This study aims to foster transformative practice in not for profits and identifies consciousness as key condition (Chetkovich & Kunreuther, 2006; Crutchfield & McLeod Grant, 2007)

20 Limitations, possibilities, and next steps Great variation across organizations More qualitative and quantitative data needed Develop tool that can assess organizational profile Refine methodology, initial pilot of conceptual framework resonates with participants

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