21878 Organizational Dialogue
University of Technology Sydney
Autumn 2014 Assignment
A range of authors (e.g. Gerard and Ellinor 2001; Isaacs 1993, 1999; Schein 1993; Senge 1995) suggest that dialogue can positively transform organizational cultures. Do you agree with this assessment? Why? Why not? Engage with relevant academic literature in developing your argument.
Student Name: Nguyen Vu Hoang Dung
Student Number: 11477445
In organization people spend 80 percent of their time to communicate (The British Psychological Society 2012). Communication is a key tool to share information, foster different opinions and build alignment and trust. According to Gerard & Teurfs (1995), the process of dialogue is an invitation to create organization cultures through conversations. It acts as a learning environment that shifting individuals to “a deeper understanding of collaboration in groups, and a new way of sensing their connections to others throughout the organization” (Querubin 2011, p.19). It brings all the ideas together and suspends judgment so people will have a greater chance to understand each other (Brayman, Grey & Stearns 2010). This essay will analyze the role of dialogue in transforming organizational cultures positively and all the benefits it brings. However, it will also examine the challenges of implementing dialogue.
Organizational culture includes shared values and beliefs that guide behaviors of all members and determine the way things should be done in the organization (Sergiovanni 1984). Company has its own culture usually indicates higher performance. The role of dialogue is not only to spread the common values and meanings that company wants its employees to follow but also allow everyone to express their own interest. According to Gerard and Ellinor (2001), the main purpose of dialogue is to produce collective understanding. Firstly, they compared the differences between dialogue and discussion. In discussion, people tend to protect their own thoughts and do not truly concern about other’s opinions and needs. They play as a speaker’s role rather than as a listener. It might leave the remainder out of discussion with frustration, isolation and disrespect. Decisions could be made by the person who has the most power and influence in the group (Gerard and Ellinor 2001). Hence it weakens the aim of enhancing organizational cultures. In contrast, when employees participate in a dialogue, their role as a listener is more important than as a speaker. They desire to hear what others want to say. They try to fit all different perspectives into a common value. Therefore, if issues occur, they listen to deeply understand other’s thoughts and opinions (Gerard and Ellinor 2001). By doing that, employees are getting closer to each other and conflicts are minimized. They help their team or their department to build shared culture.
Secondly, Gerard and Ellinor (2001) stated five skills of dialogue including suspension of judgment, listening, reflection, assumption identification and inquiry. They defined the meaning of suspension in dialogue is not to stop one’s judgment about a problem. Instead, they have to aware what their judgments are and “then holding them lightly so they can still hear what others are saying” (Gerard and Ellinor 2001, p. 7). After listening carefully to other’s ideas, they need to reflect their own assumptions. Therefore, to revising whether those assumptions are linked to the organization or not. If they cannot understand the differences, they must inquire for more information. Hence, this process of dialogue enables each employee to foster different views and converge them together to become one unique aim. Organizational culture is enhanced.
In agreement with Gerard and Ellinor, Isaacs (1999) analyzed four principles of dialogue based on Bohm’s research in 1996. They are listening, respecting,...
References: Bohm, D. 1996, On Dialogue. Ed. Lee Nichol, Routledge, London & New York.
Brayman, J., Grey, M. & Stearns, M. 2010, Taking Flight to Literacy and Leadership, Rowman & Littlefield, viewed 16 December 2010,
Ellinor, L. & Gerard, G. 2001, Dialogue at Work: Skills at Leveraging Collective Understanding, Pegasus Communications, Waltham, MA, pp. 7.
Gerard, G. & Teurfs, L. 1995, Dialogue and Organizational Transformation, 1st edn, Sterling & Stone, Inc., San Francisco.
Isaacs, W. 1999, Dialogue and the Art of Thinking Together: A Pioneering Approach to Communicating in Business and in Live, Currency, New York.
Raelin, J. 2012, ‘Dialogue and deliberation as expressions of democratic leadership in participatory organizational change’, Journal of Organizational Change Management, Vol. 25.
Schein , E
Sergiovanni, T. 1984, ‘Leadership and excellence in schooling’, Educational Leadership Journal, vol. 4.
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