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Just found a really useful 2004 article on Action Research by Peter Hawkins which links the ideas of Gregory Bateson to organisational development and, in particular, the study of cultures in organisations. It’s rare to find someone writing about management and business who also employs a Batesonian perspective – and since this is precisely what I want to do with regard to Reflection and Personal Development, it’s a great find.

Already there is an interesting quote, which I want to share here:

“To assist the evolution of organizational culture, one first has to start by attending to these deeper organizing principles, which are not accessible from questionnaires or individual interviews, but can be glimpsed in the oft repeated stories and shared metaphors; the collective ways of tackling issues; the recursive patterns of behaviour, the shared unwritten rules and the collective emotional patterns that rarely can be articulated but which are communicated to the outsider through ‘empathic resonance’.”

There is much to consider in this paper. There is a re-appreciation of Bateson’s seminal idea of logical levels of learning, and how this impacts how we see reflection, as well as a naming of those practitioners and researchers who have, since the publication of Steps to an Ecology of Mind, been influenced by that systemic, recursive and complex vision. The themes which this vision deals in are immense – and they include the mind/body split, the ecological and intellectual crises brought about by the industrial revolution.

Our approach to this is key. Hawkins also says:

“We firstly start focusing on relationships, flows and patterns; and secondly realize that we are part of any field we are studying and to understand the field we must also reflect on ourselves as part of that world. ”

reference

Hawkins, P (2004)’ A centennial tribute to Gregory Bateson 1904–1980 and his influence on the fields of organizational development and action research, Action Research, volume 2(4): 409–423

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