re: group construing

Aaron Pun (
Fri, 17 May 1996 17:06:37 -0400 (EDT)

Hi Robin,

I find what you describe interesting and has scope for use in
organization. I had similar background as you are in the HRD field. In
designing strategies for Organization change, I like to collect the
stories which employee perceived as annoying. For instance, I talked to
the branch managers and collected their stories on their lived experience
of the bank merged with a large foreign bank with more control
orientation. Their narratives becomes major data and helped me to form
what I call them "meta narrative" which are their personal theories or
paradigms developed out of stories from their lived experience. These
meta narratives are worked out and presented to the personnel director
and she worked with me for strategies of change.

I have also used the grid method to work out individual's construct on
similar issues. It is used more to spark off discussions rather than
research which can become publishable. I think the stories you mention
are useful materials for organization and strategy studies. The only
thing I am caution is as a consultant in OD, people get cautious of me if
I tend to publish their company's issues. So I tend to make it
unidentifiable or leave it to be published when the event is forgotten.

I am not sure whether I should call the meta narrative a corporate
construct or I should have it called as such when the dimensions are
statistically to share the commonality and I collect the dimensions
through the rep grid to legitimise me calling it so.

Anyway, I find the modal constructs extracted from proper research more
publishable yet the metal narrative very revealing in Organization
Development work. I also find it useful for phenomenological hermeneutic
research as well.

Would like you and others to help me think more.

Aaron PUN DPhil
APA (International)
Management and Organizational Development Consulting
Toronto, Canada

On Thu, 16 May 1996, Robin Hill wrote:

> I'm beginning to realise from some of these later postings that some
> of the things I've been messing about with, presumably in a fairly
> amateur way, possibly have more significance than I first thought.
> For instance, I too, can report an episode of group construct
> elicitation in an organisational setting. In this instance, I
> was working as a Personnel Officer, and had been set the task for one
> department, of "finding out what they actually do and why?" This
> involved fairly traditional sorts of job analysis, but I sneaked in a
> bit of Repertory Test and Laddering (purely out of self interest) to
> see if I could gain an imprerssion of the core, agreed functions of
> the department and the values underlying them.
> The process involved individual repertory test etc. I had then
> undertaken to try and make sense of the result. One group of five
> field workers, attached to this department, operated from a town
> which was two hours away from the main office. The company, being a
> bit skinflint with this exercise, would only allow me a company car
> for one day to visit this group, and wouldn't allow an overnight
> stay. Hence I only had a few hours with them. Not enough time to
> work with them as individuals.
> I decided to attempt a group repertory test, and group laddering
> (just to see if it worked). It required negotiation among group
> members about the elements they were going to use. I asked each
> member to elicit constructs individually. We then placed the
> constructs on a whiteboard, and enough discussion ensued, to enable
> members to agree that they had some similar constructs, and some that
> were different. The group then agreed among themselves to select a
> handful of these for laddering technique. During this procedure,
> disagreements arose. But the procedure was particularly powerful for
> exposing personal agenda and shared agenda among the members. It was
> also powerful for exposing superordinate constructs that were virtually in opposition,
> but which had a common subordinate construct. The usefulness of
> this, was that the members of the group did _agree to disagree_ on
> issues, while at the same time acknowledge where they did agree.
> An example: The group (actually a work crew who made natural gas
> pipe connections to domestic customers) agreed,
> in turn, that it was important that they enhance the company's image,
> in order to get more customers, so as to get income for the company.
> They agreed that they were in the business of selling product to get income. They
> disagreed (with some strength of feeling) as to _how much money should
> be made_. Huge profits? Or just enough to keep servicing customers
> adequately? As I imply above, after about ten minutes of animated
> discussion the group, agreed to disagree - and moved onto the next
> construct. They had moved a fair distnace in the process, however,
> in terms of learning about one another.
> I thought this sort of messing about with groups was probably fairly
> standard among PCP practitioners. Hence I've thought very little about this.
> However, is this kind of story publishable??? I've been sending copies of some
> of the projects I've been involved in to various people round the
> globe - never thinking that these projects would be of sufficient
> interest to others to be publishable. I'm beginning to wonder
> however, if in the area of organisational applications of PCP, we
> could do with a publication of "case studies" describing PCP methods
> at work. Simply describing what some of us have done.
> Much of my work (and I admit there has not been much of it) has been
> concerned with trying to determine the commonality of constructs (or
> values) within organisational groups. Much of the power of the
> process has however come from the sociality aspect, whereby the
> procedures have exposed personal agenda, and resulted in (so far)
> mature negotiation of these, and agreements to disagree on some
> issues, and agreement to agree upon, and indeed confirm a group
> policy, on other issues.
> By the way - I understand that although my name is Robin, some of you
> (especially in N. America) have assumed that I'm female. I am, in
> fact, a male, married with three children, aged 16 through to 6 years old.
> By the way, Bill Ramsay - I get the feeling you and I are on the same
> wavelength on some of these issues.
> Dr. Robin Hill
> ____________________________________
> Senior Lecturer & Research Leader
> Department of Business Studies
> The Waikato Polytechnic
> Private Bag 3036
> Hamilton 2020
> New Zealand
> email: