appreciative inquiry; change management


Purpose This paper illustrates the usefulness of an appreciative inquiry (AI) approach and design in bringing about change. It reports on a case study of a review of a school within a higher education context using AI to engage staff, assess the need for change and make recommendations on this basis. AI is a qualitative approach focusing on potential strengths, and is an important approach in the current economic climate of austerity. Design The paper is organized as a case study. It provides contextual background, argues for and outlines an AI approach, and reviews the literature which makes a strong case for AI in engaging staff with change, and promoting positive aspects like reflective team working. The actual review process is then described and how the AIapproach was applied. What follows is a discussion of issues which arose in applying the approach. It concludes that there are clearly very positive benefits to using AI. There may also be a need to modify how it is applied in order to maximize staff potential for trusting the process, and to enable the airing of alternative, more complex views, whilst still maintaining a positive focus. Practical/social implications and originality/value The paper illustrates how an AI approach can be used in effective change management in the current climate of austerity and change in the public sector in the UK. AI can offer a way of restoring staff participation in change, and a way of enhancing communication and trust. The material in this paper is original and has not been published elsewhere.

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