Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

How to build a strengths-based organization: Learnings from Craigwood Youth Services
by Liehmann, Lothar, Ph.D., Benedictine University, 2009, 178; 3367131
Abstract (Summary)

Much has been written recently about how appreciative inquiry, positive organizational scholarship, and a focus on strengths can lead organizations to high performance. Little has been written, however, about how to build a strengths-based organization, one in which the performance advantages of a positive approach are realized in a sustainable way by integrating strength-based principles into every aspect of the organization's culture. Using an action research methodology, this dissertation examines the experience of Craigwood Youth Services, an accredited children's mental health organization in southern Ontario, in transforming itself from a deficit-based to a strengths-based organization. It identifies seven practices of a strength-based organization: (1) metanoia—intentionally shifting mental models to prepare the way for new possibilities; (2) remaining open to a continuous state of becoming; (3) respecting and valuing diversity; (4) enabling personal re-creation to assure sustainability; (5) leveraging learning to facilitate co-creation and re-creation; (6) building on the past while focusing on the future; and (7) engaging the power of the heart. Building on Kerber and Buono's (2005) conceptualization of major approaches to change, it shows how these seven practices, when integrated into the systems, structures, and strategies of the organization, lead to high performance by creating a culture of accountable co-creation.

In an application specific to children's mental health organizations in Ontario, the dissertation argues that the creation of strength-based organizations and the performance advantages they offer are being hindered by the Ontario government's increasing compliance-oriented control and auditing processes. It contends that the government's primary focus on avoiding risk (rather than promoting excellence) creates an environment antithetical to flourishing organizations. Excessive regulation weakens children's mental health organizations by eliminating creativity, marginalizing personal judgment, eroding trusting relationships, and failing to leverage strengths. This dissertation offers the strength-based organization as a positive alternative to deficit-based compliance and control.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Ludema, James D.
School: Benedictine University
School Location: United States -- Illinois
Source: DAI-A 70/07, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Social work, Management, Occupational psychology, Health care management
Keywords: Appreciative inquiry, Craigwood Youth Services, Culture change, Leading change, Learning organizations, Ontario, Strengths-based organization, Transformation
Publication Number: 3367131
ISBN: 978-1-109-26575-0
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