Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Functional language: Leveraging nature's principles for creating design-to-practice organization theory
by Austin, Richard Rene, Ph.D., California Institute of Integral Studies, 2011, 285; 3457713
Abstract (Summary)

A combination of complex change, and competition for talent, resources, markets, and demands for sustainable growth is generating changes in thinking regarding the purpose, structure, and societal contributions of today's organizations.

Historically, organization theories are based on a linear, static, Aristotelian linguistic structure that is not in alignment with the principles of nature—or with the human nervous system and our experience of the world—which is dynamic and often non-linear. My thesis in this dissertation is that using linguistic structures that are aligned with natural systems principles can lead to more effective change processes in organizations.

My many years of work in corporations designing and implementing systemic change led me to question why organizational change and employee development programs produced such shallow returns for the enormous resources invested. I realized that transforming the way language is used could be a crucial leverage point in developing more effective organization theories and practices. My research—which integrates notions from Korzybski's non-aristotelian systems (sic) and general semantics, and from philosophy, psychology, science, art, conscious abstracting, human nervous system functioning, and a hybrid of a Native American talking circle and Bohmian dialogue—provides scientific evidence that language structure influences human behavior, perceptions, evaluations, sensemaking, and use of language.

Four primary questions guided the present inquiry: (a) How does the outdated structure of Western languages impact an organization's experience when it attempts to put theory formulated with such linguistic structure into practice?; (b & c) Does our lack of knowledge about human nervous system functioning and what it does (abstracting from the dynamic energy world) present a corollary problem?; (d) How might a non-aristotelian orientation, as found in general semantics, help advance a new theory on the science and art of "design-to-practice" organizational theory formulation processes?

In this dissertation, I have accomplished the central goal of developing and presenting a new process for creating "design-to-practice" theories of organization sustainability and individual self-manifestation by applying a functional language based on nature's laws that aligns theory-building processes with nature's laws—a new theory-formulating model that can contribute to the humanizing of 21st century organizations.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Ryan, Jim
Commitee: Montuori, Alfonso, Sheppard, Nomi
School: California Institute of Integral Studies
Department: Humanities, Individualized Pathway
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-A 72/09, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Linguistics, Epistemology, Organization Theory
Keywords: Functional language, General semantics, Organizational behavior, Philosophy, Psychology, Science, Sustainability
Publication Number: 3457713
ISBN: 9781124686172
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