A comparative case study of appreciative inquiries in one organization: implications for practice
Eight different sites in a large, Canadian urban school district engaged in an appreciative inquiry into “what do we know about learning”. Data collected over the following year indicate that four of the sites experienced transformational changes, two sites had incremental changes and two showed little or no change. This paper describes the AI intervention in detail and then explores differences in each site that may explain differences in level of change. The level of positive affect and ratings of success of the AI Summits at each site showed no meaningful relationship to change outcomes. Level of change did appear to be related to how generative the inquiries were, how well the Discovery phase was managed and the quality of Design statements that came out of the summits. Other factors exogenous to the design of the AI also appeared to play a role. These included relations between teachers and principals, credibility of local change agents, passionate and engaged leadership, and linkage to pre-existing, shared concerns. Recommendations for AI practice are given.
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