¬12. Transorganizational Development
SUMMARY of TD12: Transorganization

Culbert et al., did a paper outlining the theory and practice of TD in 1972. Since then Boje, Cummings & Motomedi have worked to develop the field.  My own work with Jones and with Wolfe has been on the ICEND approach. ICEND is Interactive, Communicative, and Experiential Network Development; how to assemble the players so that networks emerge, change, and develop. This involves storytelling, deconstruction of existing hegemony, mythmaking, theatrics, and an understanding of the socio-economic context of multi-organizational networking. 
Similarities to other TD methods:
  • O 1. Community Organizing
  • 11. Restorying
  • F 2. Participative Design for Participative Democracy 
  • (  15. Network Organizations
  • a  4. SEAM
  • Ô  14.Postmodern Theatrics
  • [  9. Mythmaking
  • %  13. Festival and 
  • I  16. Critical Theory
  • C  5. Action Research

Dissimilar to other TD Methods:

  • ?  7. Reengineering
  • {  6. Appreciative Inquiry


Wrap Up

  main site http://web.nmsu.edu/~dboje/TDgameboard.html

Born on: September 16, 1999


Introduction to OD If you need to start with an overview of basic OD trends (press here) or see OD Institute and OD Journal (press here).  I am seeking to move beyond OD to TD perspectives in what I call "the death of [traditional] OD" (Press here).

The Rebirthing of OD as TD - Consulting to networks of organizations is represents the rebirth of organization development (OD) in the arena of relationships between organizations that affect relationships within organizations. It is the move from retelling one organization’s story, to retelling the story of the entire network of organizations. 

Transorganizational Development (TD) Networking is defined as planned change in the collective relationships of a variety of stakeholders to accomplish something beyond the capability of any single organization or individual (e.g. Culbert et. al., 1972).

The “something beyond” the single organization is the story that the network players fashion collectively. 
I assume organizations are Storytelling Collectives or plain Storytelling Organizations embedded in Transorganizational Storytelling Networks. For more on Storytelling Organization Theory (press here).

Organizational Development (OD) transcends single organization game playing.  The term “transcend” is used throughout this book in a critical sense, to mean ways that the organizational players move beyond their established and status quo universe of discourse and action to discern alternatives, and fashion new stories (Marcuse, 1969: p. xi, note 1).

OD is stretching to find new ways of multi-organization network development, especially as we move from the modern to late modern postindustrial life modes of the 1970s and most recently from post-Fordist production and consumption to postmodern capitalism of the 1990s.  Very simply put, the postindustrial supply chains are now global, and the postmodern networks of contesting and contradictory protest groups and advocacy stakeholders who want to redefine how business is conducted is also global (for more on the move from OD to TD and its postindustrial and postmodern roots see Appendix A). 

There are many fine consultants doing great OD process consultation to effect better conditions. The challenge is to move beyond the single organization focus, or even the organization and its turbulent environment focus, to the global playing field of TD networks. Since most of the process consultation is rooted in philosophies of unitary, isolated organization change, we will need to stretch OD’s consultation horizon.

I am calling for OD to rebirth itself as TD in order to move beyond the open system model of an organization embedded in a "target model." A target model places the one organization at the center of the universe, draws a circle around it and puts supplier, customer, subcontract, and collaborator relations around it. Yet, as with Copernicus, we know the one organization is not the center of the solar system or the universe.

Centered (focal organization) models do not explain the dynamic patterns of cosmology any more than target or ice-cube (unfreeze, move, refreeze) models explain the collective dynamics of large system, multi-organization change. TD involves us in the Alice in Wonderland croquet game in which the mallets, loops, and balls move on their own and never refreeze.

It is time for a paradigm shift from unitary-OD to network-OD with polycentered (many centers), polyvocal (many voices), and polysemous (many meanings).  That is the new TD theory and it necessitates novel Transorganizational praxis. Yet, it is not entirely new. In this practice that Mary Parker Follett wrote about in the 1920s, the consultant worked across systems, across organizations, across the divide of management and labor to bring about multiorganizational collaboration. Like, Follett, the TD consultant is not tied to one CEO, or one firm, but networking to effect changes in a Transorganization system within systems orbiting fragmented global contexts. And these are transcendent changes, changes beyond the one that affect the collective pattern of relationships, practices, and possible futures.  In sum, OD is being reborn. 

Sam Culbert of UCLA, once asked me, “but who pays the bill?”  We shall see that the bill is paid by multiple organizations to consultants who have the reputation to bring about changes that benefit the network players as well as their stakeholders.

HISTORY of TD WORK - A pluralistic assembly of Transorganizational Development (TD) consultants attended OD rebirth. There was Samuel A. Culbert, J. Max Elden, Will McWhinney, Warren Schmidt and Bob Tannenbaum acting as OD midwives in their 1972 call for Transorganizational praxis to go beyond traditional OD practices.

Despite Thayer's (1973) similar call, the ghost of OD continue the same practices untile the late 1970s and early 1980s. In 1978, Kurt Motamedi sent a wake up call for the evolution from interorganizational design into TD. In 1979 and 1981, I called for activist TD interventions into networks of organizations. Motomedi and Cummings (1981) did the same.

Kurt Motamedi and I experimented with Transorganizational Development (TD) while we worked at UCLA in the 1970s and 1980s. In 1972 the UCLA department I would join had written the original work on TD (see list below). My own approach was rooted TD in storytelling and folklore. I started writing about it in 1979. Work with Michael Jones of UCLA folklore and mythology helped extend the storytelling aspects into the ICEND model of consultation to large interorganizational network for long-term change (see below). I assume organizations are Storytelling Collectives or plain Storytelling Organizations embedded in Transorganizational Storytelling Networks. Several approaches (e.g. Emery-Search Conference, AI, Future Search, Learning Organization, etc.) involve storytelling and TD. The ICEND theory, along with various search conference models assumes that by convening people to interact, communicate their stories, and form common experience, a network for action and change develops around their collective storytelling (See Boje, 1982).

The work of Boje, Motomedi and Cummings got little notice among the ghosts of OD. One exception was Tom Cummings, who in 1984 reconstructed Motomedi's and my work into his revitalization of sociotechnical systems.

I tried again in 1989 (with Wolfe) to call for TD to replace OD. Finally, the call for TD got heard, not by reading Culbert et al., (1972), Thayer (1973), Motomedi (1978), Boje (1979), Cummings (1984), or Boje and Wolfe (1989) but from awakening to the realities of global economic restructuration of corporate work life. The burgeoning field of large systems change or TD, as I prefer to call it, is today a jungle of contending epistemologies and ontologies that seek to be successor to OD throne. And succession to the throne means big consulting bucks.

Since the 1990s, TD has been on the rise. I teach it at Pepperdine and Benedictine as well as here in the New Mexico State University Ph.D. programs.

What is TD Consulting? – At a very practical level, TD networking involves consulting strategies ranging from IT reengineering, knowledge organization, learning organization, appreciative inquiry, participative democracy, sociotechnical systems, network organization design, supply chain management, military cyber-war game simulations to various postmodern approaches such as restorying spectacles of mass production and consumption with more ecocentric and socially responsible ethics (Boje, 1999c). As we moved from the modern to late modern postindustrial life modes of the 1970s and most recently from post-Fordist production and consumption to postmodern capitalism of the 1990s traditional OD practice focus on a single firm and its environment is being replaced by TD consulting. TD consulting takes a network of firms embedded in a community of action as the starting point. This article is written for people engaged in large system change decisions, those doing comparative work, and teachers of TD practice and theory. We will examine ways to trace, visualize and develop multi-organizational systems using storytelling processes, but first a brief look at billion dollar consultation firm strategies.

Beyond OD to TD Current TD efforts seek to look at the more postmodern aspects of fractionated and chaotic networks including cyber activism and cyberwar collective storytelling (see Network Organization). See for example the critical and postmodern themes in Journal of Organizational Change Management (JOCM, press here). Postmodern applications of chaos and complexity theory are being applied to . There are several global trends. The first global trend is to move to "lean" and "green" Supply Chain distribution to complement lean and green consumption and production webs. Second, a two-tier global structure is developing in Supply Chain management. There has been a consolidation of the carrier base, with many transnational companies employing a central logistics provider who in turn employs numerous sub-contractors (Radstaak & Ketelaar, 1998). Please let me know if you have a TD story to share - David Boje. If you are thinking of turning postmodern, work through these study guides: How to become a postmodern theorist


  1. Transorganizational Networking – Planned change in the collective relationships of a variety of stakeholders to accomplish something beyond the capability of any single organization or individual (e.g. Culbert et. al., 1972).
  2. Transorganizational Development - a collective story is being shaped and co-constructed among the network of [organizational] participants. Each stakeholder [organization] is negotiating the meaning of the collective story. Each story is a fragment, a perspective on the whole. Some are problem based, issue based, solution based or just fantasy based. Each is a candidate to become the dominant collective story (Boje, 1979, 1981).
  3. Story - A telling of a past or anticipated event brought into the present through oral or written performance.
  4. Collective Story - A story of the past or anticipated future that is negotiated and co-constructed among a wider community (Boje & Wolfe, 1989).
  5. Story Networking - It is the stories that construct and reconstruct the exchange relations of the transorganizational network over time.
  6. Stakeholder – Person, tree, or organization who is affected by what the organization is doing or intending to do ("Have a stake in") - Based upon Mason & Mitroff's work.
  7. TD1 – Type One Transorganization Network – Seeks to recombine the community or global division of labor such that fragments of the self, social, and market can put the status quo back together (Boje, 1999: 14-189).
  8. TD2 – Type Two Transorganization Network – Seeks to resist or modify the behavior of TD1 networks by forming an alternative TD2 network to conduct campaigns of resistance and power realignment (Boje, 1999: 14-18).
TD THEORY AND ICEND - Interactive, Communicative, Experiential, and Network Development.

ICEND is a term that David Boje and Michael Jones coined in 1982 to develop a story-based model of TD. The ICEND theory is that by convening people to interact, communicate their stories, and form common experience, a network for action and change develops around their collective storytelling (See Boje, 1982). Three subsystems are formed. Subsystem One (outside process consultant) facilitates the formation of the second subsystem (internal problem solving networking cycle) so people can crystallize issues, identify leaders, form a temporary organization (of organizations) that will change the status quo response patterns of a TD1 (Subsystem Three: Extended Network Involvement Cycle).

     I - Interactive - Share stories around issues
     C- Communicative - Stories of the collective
     D-Development                      (Press here) for Table 11 on
more ICEND definitions.

ICEND Model of Transorganizational Development

Three subsystems are formed. Subsystem One (outside process consultant) facilitates the formation of the second subsystem (internal problem solving networking cycle) so people can crystallize issues, identify leaders, form a temporary organization (of organizations) that will change the status quo response patterns of a TD1 (Subsystem Three: Extended Network Involvement Cycle).

Subsystem One: Outside Process Consultation Cycle

  • I. Diagnosis
  • II. Involvement
  • III. Active Intervention
  • IV. Support
  • V. Evaluation


Subsystem Two: Internal Problem Solving & Networking Cycle

  • I. Issue Crystallization (issues that bring form community)
  • II. Locate Stakeholders
  • III. Expanded Stakeholder Involvement
  • IV. Search Conferences & Focus Group Intervention
  • V. Convene Temporary Organization
  • VI. Withdrawal of Temporary Organization (before bureaucracy sets in)
  • VII. Assessment & Evaluation


Subsystem Three: Extended Network Involvement Cycle

  • I. Issue Perceived More Widely in the Extended Network
  • II. Initial Organizational Involvement beyond Temporary Organization
  • III. Discovery of Under-employed Resources
  • IV. Breakdown of Status Quo Response Patterns (Subsystem II Interventions in Extended Field)
  • V. Demand Builds for Greater Organizational Involvement
  • VI. Breakdown of Status Quo Responses.
Exhibit I shows the relationship between the three subsystems. The network process consultant helps Subsystem Two stakeholders identify critical issues that will bring people to together in a search conference. The idea wos to put people into experiential and dialogic workshops where they could work out their networking dynamics. This means facilitating the location of stakeholders from different sectors of the economy and community so they can develop strategies in focus groups that will convene a temporary organization. The temporary organization will work to create cycles of network involvement and diffusion in the extended network that would consist of hundreds or thousands of other organizations. Members of the temporary organization are drawn from relevant sectors of the environment of the extended network (Subsystem Three).


(Press Here) to see ICEND Topographical Mapping of system interventions.
(Press Here) to see recent TD work that involves mapping networks over time using simulation procedures.

Other TD Applications:

NEW Paper "Chaos and Complexity in Supply Chain Transorganizational Development Networking" by David M. Boje, October  9, 1999 (press here). The paper reviews global trends that have TD potential in an excellent archive of articles you can find at the Supply Chain Network (press here).

    Summary - While still at the theory stage, it does seem possible to combine domain-storytelling analysis with maps of network transactions, to look at collective dynamics. These dynamics are assumed here to be governed by chaos and complexity.  As the number of nodes in, for example, a Suppy Chain network increases, complexity effects take over. KMPG consulting (1998) has done a study of the global automotive supply chain using the concept of a "supply web" to indicate the complexity of relationships that exist between manufacturers and tiers of suppliers. Supply chains according to chaos theory can be viewed as system that is highly sensitive to initial conditions.  There are Green TD consulting approaches such as environmental auditing that can positively affect greening the patterns of supply chain network in a given community by convening stakeholders to affect supply transport options and patterns. A TD search conference can be convened to implement green  measures of network efficiency and sustainability such as 'freight intensity' (ratio of total tonnage-miles to GDP) and 'freight traffic intensity' (ratio of vehicle-miles to GDP).

    One trend in TD is to develop grassroot organizing approaches (press here) to Supply Chain Networking in conjunction with advanced simulation modeling techniques  for NuThink, Inc. grassroot and (press here) for their free simulator download options. Grace Ann Rosile and I are working in similar directions with Mike Coombs as the NMSU Physical Science Laboratory.

TD Background Section

TD Assumptions

1. Network participants collectively define and negotiate the issues around which a TD action is organized. Some do environmental scanning, others future search.


2. Domains or divisions of labor are created as stakeholders identify their special interests in these issues. Natural tendency is to create bureaucratic hierarchy.


3. Resource exchanges link participants together in interdependent relations. The collective interests define the relationships and the ongoing relationships reflect those issues.

An example of sectors is presented in Figure 1 (above). [Source of Figure 1. (Boje & Wolfe, 1987: 738)].

In Exhibit II, work of the Second Subsystem is shown over its seven time phases as it works with the extended network involvement cycle until the temporary organization disbands having effected its changes. The example is taken form a proposal I wrote to the Department of Commerce in Washington D.C. for a network development model to bring stakeholders together from two industries, Automobile and the Hi Tech, following a massive lay off of automobile workers. The plan was to do a series of search conferences including focus groups, mini-conference, and teleconferencing to build extended network cycles of involvement across the two industries and various public and private training programs. Out of the conferencing we anticipated that a High Tech Advisory Council would form to facilitate the on-going retraining efforts by developing communication and resource support linkages that were not there in the early phases.


Both TD1 and TD2 processes interpenetrate the same systems.


Three Types of TDs interact link ying and yang around problem-saturated domains of interorganizational action at local and global relations.


TD1 The first type of transorganizational network tells the "good story" of progress through business and masquerades predatory and exploitative behaviors such as massive layoffs through reengineering and downsizing behind Greenwash advertising, public relations spin control, and token efforts to elevate world poverty and environmental degradation. The largest U.S. based consulting firms such as IBM Global Services with $29 billion in 1998 revenues focuses upon the highly mechanistic business process reengineering in its IT outsourcing and supply chain work. A long list of other firms follow that lead. In fact, most TD consulting is based in mechanistic, social engineering approaches to large systems multi-organization change and centrist control.  In sum, TD1 network consulting seeks to recombine and control the community or global division of labor such that fragments of the self, social, and market can keep the status quo capital accumulation machine in tact (Boje, 1999: 14-189). Barker (1999: 171) refers to how in concertive team concept control; the market acts as a transorganizational means of discipline:

"They [teams] had a hierarchy of abstract moral gods, with "transorganizational" conceptualizations of being productive and successful as a team at the top, meaning that their understanding of success and productivity was more than, say, a quantitative indicator of meeting the production schedule" (p. 171, emphasis mine).


In TD1 instrumental-reasoning fashion the team came to believe that "team' "quality" and "service" in a disciplined regime equaled happiness and a functionalist solution to turbulent and changing market forces.


TD2 is defined as seeking and actively organizing networks to change/resist or go beyond the status quo relations of a dominating TD1 networks (Boje, 1979; Boje & Wolfe, 1986).  TD2 networks take advocacy positions on global ecology and social responsibility. Examples range from community organizing of multi-organization networks such as the work of Saul Alinsky and Ted Watkins. Participative democracy search conferences by the Emerys is another example of an advocacy model. In the Emery case it is advocacy for environmental and purposive system reasoning in somewhat less hierarchical arrangements. There are also more postmodern and critical theory approaches to consulting that advocate either more grassroots or more ecocentric praxis options. KPMG International is a multi-billion dollar consulting firm based in Europe that does what I would term TD2 consulting by advocating environmental accounting practices, bring firms together to work on environmental and world hunger projects.  In sum, TD2 networking seeks to attain greater democratic control and local community accountability over multinational as well as local corporate behavior. TD2 networking seeks to resist or modify the behavior of TD1 networks by forming an alternative TD2 network to conduct campaigns of resistance and power realignment that change TD1 behaviors (Boje, 1999: 14-18).


Middle Range TD1/TD2 - There are middle range approaches between TD1 and TD2 or involving combinations of both. For example many firms apply Learning Organization, Appreciative Inquiry, or "Alliance Collaboration" (Anderson Consulting) among competing firms in order to bring business practices into more sustainable and socially responsible praxis. Ernesto Cortez continues Alinsky's more radical approaches with somewhat more bureaucratic and multi-issue, rather than single issue advocacy praxis.  Ernst & Young and other billion dollar U.S. based firms adopt a Knowledge Organization approach as a successor to the more traditional Learning Organization models of Senge, Argyris or Schein-models. There is some experimentation by Ernst & Young with complexity and chaos theory modeling based in spin off operation from Santa Fe Institute. In sum, middle range approaches deviate from the profit maximization, free market economy view of TD1 to a non-traditional approach which may on occasion yield social or ecological advocacy or approach collective dynamics from a more multi-paradigm vantage point.


In sum, I find in most industrial and service sectors of the economy as well as the lucrative government consulting area, a contestation among TD1, TD2 and mixed TD1/TD2 consulting ontologies (views of being in the world), epistemologies (how knowledge is attained of that world) and praxis (practices in use that operationalize ontology and epistemology).


The term "collective dynamics" is defined by Lang and Lang (1961: 34) as "those patterns of social action that are spontaneous and unstructured inasmuch as they are not organized and are not reducible to social structure" (italics as in original).

Collective network dynamics are assumed here to be considerably more complex and chaotic than dyadic concepts of organization and environment dyadic relations, and go beyond the organization and its immediate set of dyadic relationships. In addition, I assume that storytelling and the collective dynamics of TD networks are related in important ways. Finally, I assume that what is important about the relationship of storytelling and collective networking dynamics goes beyond traditional organizational development (OD) theory and praxis. Elsewhere (Boje, 1999a), I argue that OD is a stretching in concept and praxis because so many organizations are now transorganizational involving TD, not OD. I therefore call for more TD theory and praxis. In addition, I assert (Boje, 1999b) that TD is rooted in Holon relations called networks of holons. A holon is a whole/part, not a whole or a part, but both since people and organizations are involved in a series of holon relations that are increasingly transorganizational be it through Internet, professional association, supply chain, global e-commerce, or other embedded networks.

In the relation of storytelling and networking at the level of "collective dynamics" the problem is how to understand and represent or otherwise map patterns of transorganizational relations over time. Barry (1997) argues that storytelling and restorying past stories is a major aspect of organizational change. In my own (1991) study of an office supply firm, its vender, customer-organization, branch organizations, and parent company relations stories were used in many ways. For example to craft strategy by putting a story of a new venture into a revised story of the founder, sharing focus groups stories of vendors and customers with corporate mangers, and story sharing events designed to impress the holding company. There were frequent story meeting to decide what spin to put on selling off a branch operation, discharging a vice president for sexually harassing managers, and what to do then the word was on the street that the office supply firm was for sale by its holding company. And we were aware the holding company told its stories of the office supply companies it was acquiring nationally to sell them all off to a group of investors. This level of storytelling moves beyond the organization as the unit of analysis to the collectivity of an interorganizational network of customer, supplier, investor, and branch or affiliate relationships.  Here are some examples.

First, a transorganizational network can emerge spontaneously out of a single storytelling event, such as Martin Luther King's "I have a dream" speech with its subsequent impact on reforming coalitions among many civil rights organizations. Rachael Carson's book, Silent spring stimulated much TD among environmental action groups. De las Casas diaries about Columbus and colleagues' slaughter of West Indies native populations changed policies in Spain. In terms of TD, consulting firms use storytelling to restructure companies and industries. Boje, Rosile, Dennehy, and Summers (1997) looked at how reengineers use storytelling as part of their training in several ways. For example, telling stories of past reengineering successes, coaching CEOs on how to tell the story of the impending reengineering, characterizing those to be down-sized as the "fat" to be trimmed or the "casualties" of the war on global quality. CEOs and managers are trained how to story press releases and how to view the rollout of the reengineering change as a story with several acts. De Cock (1999) also provides a critique of reengineering rhetorical tactics.

Second, transorganizational networking can grow out of many facilitative stories recounted in temporary organizations, such as a search conference, future search event, open spaces meeting, or task force of organization stakeholders. For example, Saul Alinsky's community organizing efforts often rested upon getting a power-wielding slum lord's story of predatory exploitation to become the rallying point for networks of community based church, social, business, and public agencies. Also, the Emery-search conference uses a jury system to select community stakeholders from the public and private sector (many are organization representatives) to convene to scan their history, environment and future in ways that promotes the formation of a temporary core organization that will diffuse change initiatives to a larger embedding network.

Third, transorganizational-networking dynamics can grow or shift from spontaneous stories shared among consumers about a star's bathing suit on Bay-Watch. Fad-fashion stories become rallying points for supplier, producer, distributor and consumer clubs that are here one week and gone the next. Czarniawska (1997) in her study of Swedish public administration traces how stories affect trends in administration. Narrating the organization is affected by what is seen as fashionable administrative practice. In TD consulting, I assume that distinctive competence is sustained by claiming your firm, but it IBM Global Services, Ernst & Young, or McKinsey & Company has the newest approach that the competition does not. Such claims of uniqueness and fashion can be studied by reviewing the billion dollar consulting firms' web sites and linked web documents (Boje, 1999c).

Fourth, networks of organizations can collect stories to trace and influence mass culture trends in digital storytelling arenas such as the Coke storytelling theater in Las Vegas or various Internet collection points. Major corporations such as HP, Xerox, IBM, etc. are sending their people to digital storytelling training to learn how to use stories to influence mass consumption trends. In Las Vegas, visitors to the Coke Bottle building enter a theater, hear and see digital stories, fill out a response survey, and can volunteer to add their own favorite Coke story to the collection.

Fifth, stories such as the leak of the Ernst & Young audit of one Nike factory in Vietnam revealing contradictions to CEO speeches, corporate press releases, and official code of conduct principles can create a media, activist, political and Nike-counter story transorganizational network with complex and even chaotic dynamics. Nike seems particularly plagued by the leak of stories from its Asian factories that make their way to activist web sites and then to the front page of the Washington Post and slowly become the topic of academic research. The cycle is typically so slow, that Nike does not have to actually change labor practices. Since 1980, Nike only had to put a spin on the story, challenge the credibility of the storyteller, or promise changes. Only in the last five years, has Nike actually had to make changes, and the release of a credible Ernst & Young social and environmental audit had much to do with Nike increasing wages, implementing OSHA health and safety standards, and other actual labor process changes.

In sum, in each case a transorganizational network dynamics and patterns emerge or are organized around storytelling. Stories set off new patterns of collective networking dynamics. In each case stories are the currency of collective networking dynamics. In each the storied plots and characterizations infect collective networking dynamics. In each a story can render a TD network more or less stable and more or less centered or fragmented by the manner of its telling and retelling or diffusion. Stories can reinforce or disrupt habituated or more spontaneous collective dynamics among organizations. Sometimes storytelling dynamics will follow initially emergent patterns in repeated cycles to fashion loose coupling into more habituated tight coupling. Other times, just the opposite will happen and stories will jump channels and move through loose ties to create chaos in embedding social structures. I assume that a significant portion of transorganizational activity involves some kind of storytelling, be it formal accounting to investors and regulators or informal stories shared across email. Finally, stories are hard of "authorities" and "officials" to control. A story about office sex or Watergate can topple a presidency. In short, storytelling is a collective behavior that dynamically transforms network patterns of behavior until the next story or restorying of the old story changes the ebb and flow.

 TD1 tends to focus on what Barry and Elmes (1997: 439) term "technofuturist genres" of strategy-as-story.  The technofuturist genres is part of an epic narrativeof using "quasi-science" network mapping appraoches such as temporal sequencing of who consults whom, who sends email to whom, who trades how much with whom?  These are transactional and transmission level positivist data maps where the domain of strytelling is at a very abstract and aggregate level.  Usually the content in terms of human feelings, history, and thought is not being explored in the technofuturist simulation studies and abstract model topographical maps of TD1 consulting firms.    Another way to keep the strategy-as-story at a high level of abstraction is to use what Barry and Elmes (1997: 440-1) term "urist narratives."  Porter's "cost leaders" and "focusers" and Miles and Snow's "defenders" and "prospectors" are abstract characterizations of antagonists and protagonists that universalize and essentialize (Boje, 1995) system actor behavioral profiles into simple frameworks, typologies, and mappings. Spoken accounts of grounded stakeholder behavior can be avoided in favor of abstractions.


The more polyphonic strategy-as-story approaches involve more dialogical and mutlual authorship of strategic understanding of networking dynmaics.  This can mean "surfacing, legitimizing, and juxtaposing differing organiztaional stories" as well as differing stakeholder logics (Barry & elmes, 1997: 444). Postmodernist and critical theory perspectives on collective narration and expert narration of strategy-as-story focus on how people are central to or martinal to the strategic discourse that dominates a given context. The approach is to use deconstructive anlaysis of the on-going story exchanges that map a particular network.   The postmoderists in particular look at more polyvocal (many voiced) and polysemous (many meaning) explorations of storytelling-as-strategy.  This is a move away from purist narratives of Porter or Miles & Snow as well as the monologicial narratives of a SWOT expert-recipe story of strategic choice making behaviors that involve collective dynamics.  My own work on Tamara organizations as storytelling networks (1995) and as networks of stortyelling organiztions fits here.  Instead of a mono-voice reading of that Tamara Organization or network of multiple Tamara Organizations looks at rapidly changing readings as wandering audience chase and trace a multitude of simultaneous storytelling events on many performance stages.

In and among storytelling organzitions, the currency of the relationship is the stories, but like so many exchanges we do not know exactly where the story originated, how it is retold and restoried as it traverse the many stages, and whose storytelling enactment will become more fashionable.  Instead of a centralized and monolithic account of strategy athe Tamara model focuses upon the storytelling networking of mutltiple stakeholers engaged inmultiple transorganiztional relationships.

Stories collected out of their performance contexts, can be sifted and sorted, classified and rendered into abstract taxonomy by expert-academics, but the stories' meaning has been obliterated without its grounded context investigation. What I would like to do is look at the various ways of mapping stories and storytelling networks over time that move beyond abstract, monolithic expert modeling to grassroots explorations of collective storytelling dynamics.  And then I want to propose a middle ground where we can oscillate between the two approaches to network consulting.

Story mapping analysis seeks to understand the complex dynamics of storytelling among the ties of people across their social networks. The basic assumption is that social network and stories have a mutual influence.

There are several network-mapping variations that relate to stories. This first approach was very popular in the late 1970s when I did my dissertation work. The idea is to map centraly and differentiations of exchanges using simple linking data such as who talks to whom or how many times they talk to whom.  There is no analysis of the storied content of those exchanges or of shifts in transmission patters over time.

Figure One: Time-bound Transaction Mapping of Network Exchanges

The nodes (e.g. the numbered circles in Figure One) can be names (of people, places or organizations) and the links (lines in Figure One) connect stories among the nodes. The dotted lines are clusters within the network.

Some alternative approaches suggest themselves. First, stories can be mapped as nodes to other stories by their linking themes. Here each node in Figure One would be a story. Second, stories can be connected in time sequence to other stories, past, present, and future. For example S1 could come before S2 and S3 after them both. Third, contexts can be nodes and linking stories can connect them. The microstorians traces embedded stories in their historical context without using a contemporary lens or bagging them together in decontextualized collections. Fourth, there are multidimensional mappings of story networks. Venn diagrams can be used that make nodes and lines bigger or smaller, use color schemes, and multiple symbols to depict and map story networks.


Wrap Up

I have reviewed major system change approaches as being TD1, TD2 or some middle range positioning. I have also attempted to show how network dynamics can be mapped by using a combination of storytelling processes including story sharing in search conference approach to network involvement cycles. Through different approaches to network mapping, the story of the network's development and intervention cycles can be displayed to participating stakeholders. This would improve consultation involvement, problem diagnosis, strategy formation to change network patterns, and the evaluation of consolation activities. Through network graphics the problem solving network systems and extended network involvement cycles can be visualized and evaluated. Storytelling is important in several ways. First it is through story sharing that participants crystallize their experiences in the network being change, formulate visions of possible futures, and form alliances. Second, the consultant can facilitate story sharing between the temporary organization that undertakes network change initiatives by diffusing stories throughout the extended network. As the extended network gets involved in the stories of the unfolding initiatives, the development of networking options continues. Storytelling is therefore the currency by which network development achieved and large systems change is realized. In the collective dynamics of TD storytelling plays a critical role in facilitating change and in understanding he changes that are unfolding throughout complex networks. 


Transorganizational Development listing of TD Tables (press here)


    • Barker, James R. 1999  The Discipline of Teamwork" participation and concertive Control. CA: Sage.
    • Boje, D. M. "The Change Agent as Revolutionary: Activist Interventions into Inter organizational Networks," Transorganizational Development Session of the Academy of Management Meetings, Atlanta, Georgia, August 1979. This became the piece with Wolfe and the basis for See Tom Cummings' (1984)-review piece.
    • Boje, D. "Organization Lore in Transorganizational Praxis," Invited Paper for the Academy of Folklore Meetings," in San Antonio, Texas, October 22-24, 1981.
    • Boje, D. "A Networking approach to the problem of securing Hi Tech jobs for unemployed minority autoworkers" This paper contends my first write up of ICEND model detailed in Table 11 including 3 subsystems. December 31, 1982.
    • Boje, D. M. and Wolfe, T., "Transorganizational Development: Contributions to Theory and Practice," 733-753 In Leavitt, H., Pondy, L. R., and Boje, D. M., Readings in Managerial Psychology, Chicago Press, Third Edition, 1989.
    • Boje, D. M. "Radical transorganizational development theory and praxis: From Weber and Durkheim to Postmodern." Research Monograph (September, 1997).
    • Boje, D. M. "Holon and Transorganization Theory" {September 30, 1999a} (press here)
    • Boje, D. M. "Transorganization Development and the Death of Organization Development {October 3, 1999b} (Press here).
    • Boje, D. M. "Who Rules Large System Transorganizational Development (TD) Consulting?" {October 6, 1999c} (press here).
    • Boje, D. M. "Storytelling and the Collective Dynamics of Transorganizational Networking" {October 7, 1999d} (press here).
    • Boje, D. M. "Chaos and Complexity in Supply Chain Transorganizational Development Networking"  {October  9, 1999e} (press here).
    • Culbert, Samuel A., James Max Elden, Will McWhinney, Warren Schmidt & Bob Tannenbaum. "Trans-organizational praxis: A search beyond organizational development," International Associations, XXIV (10, October). 1972. Still an excellent piece. This was the first piece I read that got me started in TD.
    • Cummings, Thomas G. "Transorganizational development," In B. M. Staw and L. L. Cummings (Eds.), Research in Organizational Behavior, Vol. 6: 367-422. Greenwich, CN: JAI Press. 1984. Puts TD into an STS input, throughput, output model.
  • De Cock, Christian (1999).  "Organizational Change and Discourse: Hegemony, Resistance and Reconstitution" Article published in M@n@gement Journal (press here).

  • Deleuze, Gilles (1990). The Logic of Sense. Translated by Mark Lester with Charles Stivale from the French 1969, Les Editions de Minuit. Edited by Constantin V. Boundas. NY: Columbia University Press.

  • Eisenberg, E. and Goodall, H. (1987). Organizational Communication: Balancing Creativity and Constraint. NY: St. Martin's Press. See pp 38-39 for discussion of family metaphor and cast metaphor.

  • Fairhurst, G. T. & L. L. Putnam (1999).  "Reflections on the organization-communication equivalency question: The contributions of James Taylor and his colleagues." The Communication Review. Vol. 3(1-2): 1-19.

  • Hollis, R & Sibley, B. (1988). The Disney Story. London: Octopus Books.

  • Koestler, Arthur (1967).  The Ghost in the Machine Arkana, London.

  • Lang, Kurt & Gladys Engel Lang (1961). Collective Dynamics. NY: Thomas Y. Crowell Company.

    • Marcuse, Herbert (1969). One-Dimensional Man: Studies in the Ideology of Advanced Industrial Capitalism. Boston: MA: Beacon Press.


    • Motamedi. Kurt "The evolution from interorganizational design to transorganizational development." Paper presented at the Academy of Management Meetings in San Francisco, 1978.
    • Motamedi, Kurt "Transorganizational development" in Warrick D. D. Contemporary Organization Development. NY: Scot Foresman, 1984: 57-67.
    • Motamedi, Kurt & Tom Cummings "Transorganizational Development." Proceedings. Academy of Management Meetings in Seattle: 220-225, 1981.
  • Otero, Gerardo (1996). Neo-Liberalism Revisited: Economic restructuring and Mexico's Political Future. Boulder CO: Westview Press.

  • Van Maanen, J. (1991). "The smile factory: Work at Disneyland" In Forst et al (Eds;) Reframing organizational culture. Pp. 58-76. Newbury Park, CA: Sage.

  • Wilber, Ken (1996a).  A Brief History of Everything. Boston: Shambhala.
    Wilber, Ken (1996b).  "Transpersonal art and literary theory." The Journal of Transpersonal Psychology. 28(1): 63-91.

    • Boje, David & Robert Dennehy's Managing in the Postmodern World 1st Edition 1993; 2nd Edition 1994; 3rd Edition September 1999. (press here) Please refer to Chap 2 - for Transorganizational sections.
    • Postmodern Organization Theory - Chaos/Complexity (press here).
The Approach I seek is Based in Postmodern Science
    • What is postmodern organization science? - David M. Boje (press here); See also Best & Kellner (1997) chapter on postmodern science and the science wars.
    • Organizational Science in a Postmodern Context Kenneth J. Gergen & Tojo Joseph (press here).

Appendix A: Why is OD becoming TD? We are moving into what Peter Drucker calls post-industrial capitalism and what my friends Steve Best and Douglas Kellner, call the postmodern adventure.  It is a strange fusion of postindustrial networks of suppliers, distributors and producers with the even stranger conglomeration of postmodern consumers bent on finding out who makes their clothing, what goes into their food, and how the workers are being treated in far away countries.  In late modern there was a significant turn in large system change praxis from modern to late modern assumptions. We learned to make organizations flatter, open, flexible, and populate them with self-managing teams.  This represented our move away from Fordism. Modern Fordism forms of capitalist production relied on mass production and mass consumption and paid high wages for union support including reluctant support of the welfare state. "Fordism involved a period of stable economic growth and capital accumulation that lasted until the late 1960s in the United States" (Otero, 1996: 4).

After World War II, the economy of capitalist nations transformed from a centered Fordist massive economy to a decentered postindustrial service economy of flexible and lean production, but still very massive in its distribution. In the 1960s transnational corporations (TNC) began to perceive a crisis in growth combined with excess capacity, began to niche and adapt to alternative consumer life style habits. By the 1970s it became increasingly obvious that U.S. worker output had fallen behind Japan and Germany. Not wanting to give up Fordist assembly work, TNCs began to locate manufacture and assembly to "less unionized parts of the United States or to Third World countries" (Otero, 1996: 4).

A neo-liberalism philosophy of "Post-Fordism" began to take hold that stressed linking national production and markets to global ones, de-unionizing, decreased regulation by the State, and free market economics. As firms left capitalist, union-countries in droves, the State promised everyone cushy jobs at slightly lower salaries in the service industry (now called KW). This late modern (Post-Fordist and Post-industrial) trend accelerated with the end of the Cold War. Patterns of global commerce also began to combine the polar opposites of standardized centrist mass production with the flexible and fragmented production.’

Organizations stretched as a construct when the perspective of the collective embedded in webs of holons became more fashionable than old "organization and environment" vantage point. The Greek word "holon" became popularized in Arthur Koestler's (1967) book, The Ghost in the Machine. A "holon" is Greek for "whole/parts" meaning literally the whole that is simultaneously a part, and vice versa.  Tracing out the holons gets us into the multiplicity of network relations into which organizations and people are webbed.

Ken Wilber (1996a, 1996b) has also applied holon in numerous ways we will soon explore. "We exist in fields within fields, patterns within patterns, contexts within contexts, endlessly" (1996b: 65). Here I am concerned with people in their whole/part relation to organizations that are whole/parts of mechanistic networks, organic communities, organizations, nations and the bios-universe, and the formistic ideal types our theories and metaphors (even these) impose on the world.

Holons and stories - While postmodernists and poststructuralists are critical of Grand narratives (Lyotard, 1984) that violently aggregate it all into universal histories. Yet most of postmodernists take a less radical stance that says, "you can not just toss all grand narratives" because some are humane and they just keep being constructed all about us (Best, 1995; Best & Kellner, 1991, 1997). A middle ground is to see the relation of micro and macro story as part/whole or holon. Microstories are embedded within macrostories within Grand narratives, and contexts within contexts. It is without foundation and without end.

Not only are organizations stretching, they are cracking.  From a Holon perspective part/wholes are fragmented and dispersed across different geographic locations so that no convergence of "organization" exists.  The organization does not locate its fragment in one place. We have lived through the death of the author and the subject. We have seen how writing is a corporate project, especially in academia where reviewers and journal editors and the discipline of the Academy have made single-author writing an illusion.  We are not living through the death of the organization, as it is rediscovered to be just fragments attached to networks of other fragments, that constitute transorganization networks.

Gender and race fragments as women and minorities want economic justice, social justice (e.g. women's control over their body), and an end to white male superiority. OD went through its cycle of development from group and within organization models in closed systems frameworks to recognition of an organization situated in an uncertain, ambiguous, turbulent, and now chaotic environment. But, with the death of single organizations, people became aware that they were embedded in transpersonal and transorganizational relationships, and no longer embedded in or wedded to an organization for life. And networks of fragmented organizations began to worry that temporary employees would not feel any commitment or loyalty. They worry now about first consumers who are acting in solidarity with Third World workers. 


  • How to become a postmodern theorist
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