Integral Review

A Transdisciplinary and Transcultural Journal For New Thought, Research, and Praxis

Posts Tagged ‘scaffolding’

The Dynamics of Hope and Motivations in Groups Working on Complex Societal Issues

Pia Andersson

This paper reports results from a study of how participants’ sense of personal hope and motivation was affected by a facilitated process in which four groups of people worked on different complex social issues. The group interventions were designed to scaffold increased understanding of the complexity of the chosen issue. A method called The Integral Process for Working on Complex Issues was used in all of the groups. Issues addressed in the four groups were: neighborhood deterioration, lack of community engagement, the need for better strategies for communication between rescue service actors in critical life-and-death situations, and transition to a more environmentally sustainable city. The study investigated the participants’ self-reported changes in their levels of hope regarding the possibility of achieving positive results on the selected issue, and changes in their motivation to engage in work to that end. The data were gathered through interviews with individual group participants before and after the group process. The sessions supported group members to develop more awareness of the complexity of the issues, and to develop strategies for action.

The study indicates that the discovery of new potential pathways to manage an issue, through a more comprehensive understanding of the complexity involved, was a key factor influencing levels of hope and motivation. Reports from participants showed that when the participants formulated concrete actions that made sense to them, then “particularized hope” emerged, as well as motivation to continue to engage. Thus, increased levels of hope about a delimited part of the issue were reported, while in some cases, participants reported having less hope about the issue complex as a whole.

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The Spectrum of Responses to Complex Societal Issues: Reflections on Seven Years of Empirical Inquiry

Thomas Jordan, Pia Andersson & Helena Ringnér

Abstract: This article offers conclusions and reflections based on nine empirical studies carried out over the last seven years on how increased capacity to manage complex social issues can be scaffolded. Our focus has been on the role of meaning-making structures and transformations in individual and collective efforts to skillfully manage complex issues. We have studied capacities for managing complex issues both in terms of scaffolding group efforts through structured methods and facilitation and in terms of individual skills. Our action research gave us insights into the variability in scaffolding needs: groups are different in terms of the participants’ meaning-making patterns, which means that methods and facilitation techniques should be adapted to the particular conditions in each case. We discuss variables describing group differences and offer a preliminary typology of functions that may need to be scaffolded. In a second major part of the article, we report on our learning about individual societal change agency. We offer a typology of four types of societal entrepreneurship and discuss in more detail the properties of dialectical meaning-making in societal change agency.

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Skillful Engagement with Wicked Issues: A Framework for Analysing the Meaning-Making Structures of Societal Change Agents

Thomas Jordan

Abstract: The argument underlying this article is that innovative and skillful change strategies are needed in order to handle a range of complex and difficult societal issues. For many of these so-called wicked issues, conventional institutions and policies have performed rather poorly. It can be reasonably argued that societal change agents play a crucial role in catalysing developmental processes regarding our societies’ problem-solving strategies and organizational forms. The purpose of this article is to contribute to a deeper understanding of the different ways societal change agents engage wicked issues by developing a conceptual framework for analysing the meaning-making patterns of change agents. The framework integrates relevant concepts and models from the field of adult development with a specific focus on the role of awareness in five domains: task complexity, context, stakeholders, self, and perspectives. The framework is expected to be useful in analysing and explaining the variability in how societal change agents construct visions, goals, strategies, and courses of action, as well as in analysing patterns of effectiveness and success in initiatives that engage complex societal issues. Knowledge gained from such studies can (presumably) be used for designing more effective forms of scaffolding individual competence development as well as collective problem-solving and strategy development processes.

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