Re: introductions?
Tue, 14 May 1996 01:04:56 +0000

Responding to an initial posting by Wendy Crebbin, Brian Gaines remarks:

>The person who constructed the grid has much richer basis for interpreting
>it, and its analysis, than any other person.

Yes: but an interaction with someone else can be enriching.

>These considerations transfer to reflective communities of several
>individuals who collaborate in a context, and assume that they have
>some shared constructs as a basis for communication. Reflection on
>the grids usually surprises them by showing that they share substantially
>less than they had assumed.
>Interesting questions are: how diverse roles and differing constructs
>system co-exist effectively in the same individual; how collaboration
>can be effective when individual construct systems are, at most, only
>partially shared.

If it's of any interest to colleagues working with issues of group
construction, this unexpected disparity of views characteristic of, for
example, managers from different backgrounds, experience, or (critically)
job functions, can itself be a potent stimulus to the development of shared
perspectives on mutually espoused goals. Colin Eden has done a fair amount
of work in this area (Eden et al., 1983; Eden & Jones, 1984; though he has
turned to directed graphs in the last decade or so...)

And in view of the comment
>Attempts to make construct systems overt for third parties, e.g. in
>"expert system" development, are made difficult by these phenomena.
>They generally involve building a new construct system that satisfies
>the criteria of objective science such as inter-subjective agreement,
>and they generally lose many aspects of human expertise in doing so

I'm reminded of the debate between Eden; and Humphreys (1980); as
summarised inter al. in Jankowicz (1989). Humphreys used a repertory
grid-based system, combined with a method for assessing personal preference
structures, to automate the decision-making process: to the point at which
the system could suggest optimal decisions the individual _should_ take
given that s/he construed and preferred things the way s/he did. (Mutatis
mutandum for a group of people.)

Eden took issue, arguing for the advantages of a dialogue, debate, and
disputation between the members of a group who were exchanging decision
preferences in developing a genuinely _shared_ system of construction which
nevertheless identified the areas in which individuals would "agree to
differ" because they had genuinely different objectives: the disparate
objectives which are legitimately characteristic of the different job
functions which those individuals represent. The value lay in the _process_
of argument, which I'd now label a process in which sociality was tested to
its limits by the individuals concerned!

Finally, on the issue of
>Kelly developed the grid as a
>"mirror" allowing a client to reflect on her or his constructs and hence
>to construct new insights into them. This is rather different from
>it being a psychological measuring instrument informing a second party.

Sure; but the client can still benefit from an interaction with another
person about the grid...

I've always had a soft spot for the experience reported by Eden & Sims
(1981), when writing about a (much-neglected) computerised system of theirs
which presented the grids of previous job-holders to new job incumbents as
a method for familiarising those incumbents with examples of historical
constructions about the organisation, as part of their induction into that
organisation. Namely, that during some 10 hours of playing around with the
grid-based information of previous job holders, using a rather
sophisticated, _interactive_ computerised system, Eden's new job-holders
still found it useful to have another human being around with whom to share
and test out their reflections on the constructs of the previous
job-holder. And I don't _think_ this was entirely, or even mainly, due to
the inadequacies of the computer system! There's something about another
human being which offers unexpected reconstructions for any context. (All
right; I suppose all this means is that, in absolute terms, the
computerised system wasn't modelling the sheer variety and richness of
experience available to the human interlocutor, and was thereby a less
effective method for "mirroring" the incumbent's understanding of the
previous job-holder's constructs... but still...)

Kind regards,

Devi Jankowicz


Eden C. & Jones S. (1984) "Using repertory grids for problem construction"
_Journal of the Operational Research Society_ 35, 779-790.
Eden C. & Sims D. (1981) "Computerised vicarious experience: the future for
management induction?" _Personnel Review_, 10, 22-25.
Eden C., Jones S. & Sims D. (1983) _Messing About in Problems_ Oxford:
Pergamon Press.
Jankowicz A.D. (1989) "Applications of personal construct psychology in
business practice" in Neimeyer G. & Neimeyer R. _Advances in Personal
Construct Psychology_ vol. 1, Greenwich: JAI Press.
Humphreys P. & McFadden W. (1980) "Experiences with MAUD: Aiding
Decision Structuring versus Bootstrapping the Decision Maker" _Acta
Psychologica_ 45, 51-69.