David Sims (
Wed, 22 May 1996 12:03:34 BST

Dear Folks,

Several things conspire to make me take the time to introduce myself. There
was Lois Shawver's suggestion that we use the quiet period after the flames
of a few weeks ago to declare ourselves; a good idea, and I have built up
enormous electronic respect for Lois not only for the interesting things
she has said on this list, but for a wonderfully rich and insightful vein
of commentary from her on the Narrative list last year. Then Devi Jankowicz
referred to some of the work that Colin Eden, Sue Jones and I did way
back, using Kellyan principals to underly our research on and with
cognitive mapping, and a number of other people have commented on that

I suppose I have been shy because I lack the time and inclination to get my
head around some of the methodological debates that are current, and
because my PCP reading is out of date. But never mind, perhaps the other
kids in the playground will not call me nasty names and throw sand in my
face. PCP informs much of my teaching and research.

My research is on how agendas form in organizations; how issues or topics
come to be taken seriously, to be seen as worthy matters for discussion.
With colleagues, I currently have a project looking at this in a
manufacturing organization, a hospital and a university department. Our
approach in this has been more narrative than constructive, but I think
this may be a false opposition; we have been piecing together the stories
people tell and that they appear to live by in these organizations. Story
telling has been a major way both of hearing about agenda formation, and of
understanding what people are doing in their agenda formation. We remember
our agendas through stories, we tell ourselves and others stories to
express those agendas and to influence others (and ourselves), we write
ourselves into the plots of our stories in particular ways. Stories may be
inconsistent and to an outsider incoherent; they may take elements from
others' stories, and they are told, remembered etc. through constructs. As
the discussion of group constructs is what drew me out, I would comment on
Boje's notion of multi -authored stories; where we know people well, we may
pass stories around, another person may contribute to them, or take them
over, and there may be parts that can be left unsaid because we know that
we are in the company of others who know that part of the story. Stories
are personal constructs with connective tissue; cognitive maps, at least in
the form that we used and use them, are a particular way of telling a story
about personal constructs, through a spacial metaphor.

My teaching includes an option on 'managing differences', which includes
some on time looking at the process of differentiation via construct theory
and repertory grid.

I have run out of time, you have run out of patience. I edit (with Yiannis
Gabriel) the journal, 'Management Learning', published by Sage (advisory
board includes Devi). I will resist the temptation to give a precis of the
notes for contributors or the subscription blurb, but will not resist
pointing out that management learning as a phenomenon is widespread,
flourishing and could have a lot to do with personal constructs.

Anyone share these interests?

All the best,

David Sims
Professor of Management Studies
Brunel University
Uxbridge UB8 3PH, UK
Tel: 01895 274000 ext. 2458. Fax: 01895 203149