Re: Seminar in Constructivism

Devi (
Wed, 22 Apr 98 11:04:34 +0100

Dear John and all,

Just a quickie in response to Jon Raskin's query about how one might =
teach constructivism.

A useful reference is Chapter 6 of my book "Business Research =
Methods" London: International Thomson Business Press 1995 2nd edn., =
where I make the argument that the manager's experience is complex, =
fragmented, and partly dependent on intuition and subjective =
judgement- so that any worthwhile research questions about management =
require constructivist, rather than positivist, approaches. Since =
managers are people, mostly, one might adapt the argument to people =
in general.

Arbnor & Bjerke (1997) is an excellent basic text: it contrasts the =
Analytical (positivist), Systems, and Actors (constructivist) =
approaches using cases and examples which are general in scope (i.e. =
ignore the word =B3Business=B2 in the title!). Reason & Rowan (1981) =
is also excellent as a collection of views in favour of =
constructivist approaches to research.

References I=B9ve found useful (in my own field of management at any =
rate!) are listed below.

>Ideas for discussion of teaching constructivism are also welcome, as I
>think they might make for an interesting mailbase exchange.

Here's something I did with my research methods students yesterday, =
to underline the importance of reliability in content analysis of =
semistructured interview data. It turned into a marvellous =
demonstration of the way in which we construct a social =
understanding of events!

a) Provide an open-ended interview question (answered in the =
respondents' own words).
b) Provide a list of 10 one-sentence answers to this question, =
obtained from 10 interviewees.
(Just make up the question and the answers yourself, prior to your =
c) Divide your class into X 4-person groups.
d) Ask each group to categorise the 10 answers, discussing, =
inventing, and agreeing 3 or 4 categories.
e) Ask each group to allocate the answers to the categories.
f) Ask each group to put their categories up on a flipchart sheet, =
with the answers shown below.
g) Display all X groups' flipchart sheets and discuss!

- have all X groups arrived at the same categories? (No, but the =
class can discuss the extent of overlap).
- on what basis do they recognise overlap? (In terms of the meaning =
expressed in the answers that the different groups allocated to =
different categories: i.e., "a person classifies events by construing =
their replictions": now where have I heard something like this =
- how can the class as a whole agree on a unified set of categories =
(Only by negotiation over what they mean).
- how can they tell they have succeeded? (By discovering that they =
continue to agree on the allocation of _new_ answers to the category =

And so on. Great fun!

Kind regards,

Devi Jankowicz.

Arbnor, I., & Bjerke, B. (1997). Methodology for Creating Business =
Knowledge (2nd. ed.). London: Sage Publications.
Berger, P. L., & Luckmann, T. (1976). The Social Nature of Reality. =
Harmondsworth: Penguin.
Boje, D. M. (1994). Organisational storytelling: the struggles of =
pre-modern, modern and postmodern organisational learning discourses. =
Management Learning, 25(3), 433-461.
Botella, L., & Gallifa, J. (1995). A constructivist approach to the =
development of personal epistemic assumptions and worldviews. Journal =
of Constructivist Psychology, 8(1), 1-18.
Clegg, S. R. (1992). Postmodern management? Journal of Organisational =
Change Management, 5(2), 31-49.
Gammack, J. G., & Stephens, R. A. (1994). Repertory grid technique in =
constructive interaction. In C. Cassell & G. Symon (Eds.), =
Qualitative Methods in Organizational Research London: Sage.
Guthrie, A. F. (1991). Intuiting the process of another: symbolic, =
rational transformations of experience. International Journal of =
Personal Construct Psychology, 4(3), 273-279.
Harre, R. (1981). The positivist-empiricist approach and its =
alternative. In P. Reason & J. Rowan (Eds.), Human Inquiry: a =
Sourcebook of New Paradigm Research Chichester: John Wiley & Sons.
Hunt, D. E. (1980). How to be your own best theorist. Theory into =
Practice, 19, 287-293.
Hunt, D. E. (1987). Beginning with Ourselves: in Practice, Theory, =
and Human Affairs. Cambridge, MA: Brookline Books.
Hunt, D. E., & Gow, J. (1984). How to be your own best theorist II. =
Theory into Practice, 18, 63-71.
Jankowicz, A. D. (1995). Negotiating shared meanings of the =
management process: a discourse in two voices. Journal of =
Constructivist Psychology, 8(2), 117-128.
Jankowicz, A. D. (1996). The stories hidden in the words which we =
use: a constructivist analysis of business language as a device for =
cultural encoding. In A. Ullmann & A. Lewis (Eds.), Privatization and =
Entrepreneurship: the Managerial Challenge in Central and Eastern =
Europe Binghampton, NY: The Haworth Press.
Mair, M. (1989). Kelly, Bannister, and a story-telling psychology. =
International Journal of Personal Construct Psychology, 2(1), 1-14.
Mair, M. (1990). Telling psychological tales. International Journal =
of Personal Construct Psychology, 3(1), 121-135.
Mascolo, M. F. (1995). Toward a social constructivist psychology: the =
case of self-evaluative emotional development. Journal of =
Constructivist Psychology, 7(2), 87-106.
Neimeyer, R. (1993). Constructivist approaches to measurement and =
meaning. In G. N. Neimeyer (Ed.), Constructivist Assessment London: =
Novak, J. M. (1990). Advancing constructive education. In G. J. =
Neimeyer & R. A. Neimeyer (Eds.), Advances in Personal Construct =
Psychology London: JAI Press.
Reason, P., & Rowan, J. (1981). Human Inquiry: a Sourcebook of New =
Paradigm Research. Chichester: Wiley.
Schon, D. A. (1983). The Reflective Practitioner. London: Temple =
Watson, W., Ponthieu, L., & Doster, J. (1995). Business =
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Journal of Constructivist Psychology, 8(1), 33-51.