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Organisational development, appreciative inquiry and the development of Psychologically Informed Environments (PIEs): part two: the pilot study and evaluation

Suzanne Quinney (Co Director, based at Appreciating People, Liverpool, UK)
Leo Richardson (Specialist Support Worker, based at Riverside ECHG, London, UK)

Housing, Care and Support

ISSN: 1460-8790

Article publication date: 9 September 2014




Part One of this duo of papers outlined the appreciative inquiry (AI) philosophy, a strengths-based “positive psychology” and organisational development (OD) approach which is intrinsically creative and generative, and has been found to work well in many fields. The purpose of this paper is to describe its application in homeless hostels and demonstrates the benefits of using AI with the staff and residents, as both a personal development and an OD tool for hostels who want to become a psychologically informed environment (PIE).


This is a case study exploring a new approach to the development of a PIE. The background of the approach and the way it contributes to a PIE as described in Part One is briefly summarised, and the implementation pilot project is discussed; the appreciative conversation and the 5 D cycle are key AI “tools” which were used. The inclusion of positive psychology approaches is referenced. In addition, in the spirit of evidence-generating practice in PIEs, preliminary quantitative and qualitative findings are reported to identify the outcomes of the approach – including client motivation, desire to build positive relationships, and increased emotional awareness.


Residents responded very well to the approach, and a high proportion continued to apply their learning, making major steps towards independent living. This was backed up by quantitative data demonstrating effective outcomes for the supported housing sector, and qualitative themes start to illuminate the psychological processes behind the outcomes. The openness of PIEs to alternative psychologies is further demonstrated. The model was rolled out to other Westminster hostels.


AI is well-established as an OD process and less well known as a personal development approach; but has not previously been articulated as a tool for working with hostel residents or for developing PIEs. This strength-based approach is an alternative to some of the problem-based psychological approaches that have been used. In addition, the AI intervention illustrated defining features of a PIE such as reflective awareness.



This project could not have happened without the inspiration, support and commitment of Steve Davies, Karren Ebanks, Grace Mundicha and the staff of King George’s Hostel (Riverside), and of Victoria Aserveetham and Westminster City Council. Shaaban Juma from St Mungos also greatly supported the 2nd stage of the project. While developing the approach Suzanne received great support from the generous network of AI practitioners especially Lesley Moore The authors would also like to thank Robin Johnson for his encouragement and editorial advice, and for his commitment to developing and sharing the concept of a PIE.


Quinney, S. and Richardson, L. (2014), "Organisational development, appreciative inquiry and the development of Psychologically Informed Environments (PIEs): part two: the pilot study and evaluation", Housing, Care and Support, Vol. 17 No. 3, pp. 131-141.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2014, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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