Date of Award

Summer 1998

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Engineering Management

Committee Director

Charles B. Keating

Committee Member

Barry A. Clemson

Committee Member

Rochelle K. Young

Committee Member

Garrett J. McAuliffe


A gap exists between theoretical stances that acknowledge the importance of dialogue as a dynamic within socially constructed structures, and "steersmanship" of those constructs--e.g., directing, intervening or transforming organizations. A "mechanism" which links theory with practice is missing, leaving practitioners with an acknowledgment of dialogue's central position, but without tools to enact this centrality in practice or research. This research constructs a conceptual model of dialogue, derived from the literature. Using this model as a base, the research seeks to generate a dialogue methodology bridging theory and practice with respect to organizational dialogue. The model, methodology, and research results are intended to further organizational research in organization change interventions.

Notions of dialogue are explored through classical perspectives to construct a foundation model of dialogic complexity. The model's purpose is to make explicit dialogue perspectives from a wide range of literature and to develop an initial research point of view which includes use of dialogue as a research methodology.

A qualitative multi-level ethnographic approach is used in which ethnography of discourse events of a university undertaking a Total Quality Leadership change initiative is the basis for meta-ethnography. This meta-ethnography captures development of a methodology which centralizes dialogic concepts within notions of co-genetic logic and dynamics of distinction (Herbst, 1993; Braten, 1983) making which become the basis of participant dialogue at one level, and at a higher level articulates understanding of a notion of organizational dialogue.

Implications of this research involve the use of dialogue analysis as a learning tool for second order learning and organization transformation, as well as extending understanding of dialogue dynamics in complex organization change.