Dissertation Abstract




Strategic Planning and Organizational Development and Change

In Type IV Environments:

A Case Study In Public Natural Resources Management


Rossana C. Alvarez


Degree:           Ph.D.

Year:             1999

Pages:            00181

Institution:      New Mexico State University; 0143

Advisor:          Chair David M. Boje


Source:           DAI, 60, no. 12A (1999): p. 4501


This case study examined F. Emery's (1977) proposition that, when confronted with complex environments which have high levels of uncertainty (Type IV), a purposeful and ideal-seeking approach can serve as a foundation for significant research into the phenomena of organizational development and change. The study examines whether or not the Search Conference method for strategic planning (as a temporary participative democratic organization) leads to behaviors that exhibit F. Emery's (1977) ideals of homonomy, nurturance, humanity and beauty. Where these ideals are present, they are examined to see if they lead to active, adaptive behaviors.

The study uses a conceptual framework based on Pepper's (1942) world hypothesis of contextualism; Ackoff and F. Emery's (1972), F. Emery and Trist's (1965, 1973), and F. Emery's (1977) explication of open systems theory and definitions, and Charles S. Peirce's abductive-inductive-deductive logic (Peirce in Feibleman, 1946; Freeman, 1983; Houser & Kloesel, 1992; Sheriff, 1994; Wiener, 1958). Based on this framework, the study shows that: (1) complex phenomena are not impossible to examine; (2) quantitative and qualitative approaches can be integrated; and (3) when studying complex phenomena, relatively large numbers of variables can be analyzed simultaneously.

Strategic planning activity conducted by the USDA, Forest Service's Region 9's (FS-R9) during the period December 11, 1995 to May 17, 1996 provides the data for the case study. The Emery-McQuitty causal path analysis is used to analyze these data. Qualitative data is first translated into quantitative data by classification to produce occurrence data. These data are used to calculate the Geisser index of concomitance. The data analysis's focus is on the correspondence between events occurring within FS-R9 and events taking place outside the region.

The results of the study support F. Emery's proposition. In the process, for the first time ever, an empirical picture of an open system is demonstrated. FS-R9's employees see their region as an organization with clearly defined boundaries. Further, they see that the external environment is an integral part of the region's development and change process. The results also show that participative democratic organizational structures contribute to the emergence of F. Emery's (1977) ideals. However, there are difficulties in translating these ideals into active, adaptive behaviors.









Accession No:     AAI9955889

Provider:        OCLC

Database:         Dissertations