Theses Doctoral

Behaviour Analysis: Catalyst for Perspective Transformation and Perceptions of Interpersonal Effectiveness

Booth, Pamela Katherine

This qualitative case study sought to expand what is known about training methods that improve interpersonal communication skills for mid-level leaders in corporate settings. It looked at a training methodology, Behaviour Analysis (BA, Rackham & Morgan, 1977) conducted in the context of a year-long leadership development program in a biopharmaceutical company in the United States. Interviews with 16 program participants, and post-program survey data from 83 participants across 5 years, responded to three research questions:
1. How, and in what ways, did mid-level leaders perceive the interplay between thinking about how to communicate effectively and behaving in an interpersonally effective way? (perception)
2. How did mid-level leaders apply BA post-program? (application)
3. What were the reported perceptions of mid-level leaders about a relationship between BA and perspective transformation? (meaning)

The researcher had unique access to and history with the client as a facilitator and member of the program design team. A qualitative case study approach was appropriate, given the consistent program content and profiles of participants year over year as well as the availability of additional program documents for analysis. Data insights were varied and clustered by cohort. Findings were interpreted using two theoretical frames: (a) Mezirow’s (1978, 2003) work with perspective transformation, and (b) the study’s conceptual framework, based on Argyris and Schön’s (1974) seminal work on action science and single-/double-loop learning.

Key findings included: (a) the element of time on learning to balance advocacy and inquiry; (b) BA acting as a disorienting dilemma and menu card for expanded communication strategies; and (c) the placement of the disorienting dilemma in the process of perspective transformation. Four conclusions were drawn:
1. Making a shift in communication skills to balance advocacy and inquiry is additive and transformative.
2. Group and/or peer learning is an important component for increasing self-awareness in corporate L&D programs.
3. Disorienting dilemmas can be engineered and are valuable for bringing unconscious behavior patterns to consciousness for skill-building in a training setting.
4. Time and reflection play critical roles in making conscious connections between espoused theories and theories-in-use to build communication skills.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Organization and Leadership
Thesis Advisors
Maltbia, Terrence E.
Ed.D., Teachers College, Columbia University
Published Here
July 30, 2019