Imagery of Regent people and campus

Dissertation Abstract

Transformation Changes Everything: Exploring Organizational Leadership Challenges in an “Aspiring-to” Transformative Environment

William O. Welsh III
April 2007

This research explores the emergence of situated themes in an “aspiring-to” transformative environment through the perspective of a theory of transformation causality, Stacey, Griffin, and Shaw’s (2000) and Stacey’s (2001) complex responsive process of relating theory. This research draws from 7 years (1999-2006) coparticipant experiences of and with time/space situated uniformed military individual/group/organization/social aspects comprising a large U.S. military headquarters charged with significant responsibility in the transformation of U.S. military forces and force capabilities. Of special interest was the manner by which transformation intentionality might be forming and formed by leadership choice and responsibility in the social construction of transformative reality within a traditionally hierarchical, systems-thinking framework. Through the agency of the practitioner role, an emergent participative exploration narrative was constructed of experiences, interpretations, critical interpretations, and self-reflections with respect to the activities of warrior participants. This narrative is in the form of situated emergence themes apparently exhibiting distinct patterns of resistance and/or acceptance, anxiety-inducing and/or anxiety-reducing, risk-avoiding and/or risk accepting, and identity-protecting and/or identity-challenging conduct with respect to enacting or not enacting the designated transformation mission in participants’ unique “aspiring-to” transformative environment. Accepting the postmodern challenge for a psychological/sociological framework appropriate to transformation, this project’s narrative literature review and methodology conversation builds an essential bridge from the rational and formative causality arguments of the current system-based dominant discourse to the paradox holding transformational causality perspective of complex responsive processes of relating. The methodology employed was an exploratory qualitative field project which used interviews, formal coparticipation experiences, extended informal conversation, field journal notes, and analyses and assessment of relevant participant texts. This exploratory project’s results narrative and discovery conversation are relevant to any participant, practitioner, and/or researcher seeking to understand the philosophical, moral, ethical, and pragmatic leadership challenges in understanding individual/group/ organization/social aspects comprising purposeful human interaction in an “aspiring-to” transformative environment.