It’s been nearly 30 years since the original articulation of Appreciative Inquiry in Organizational Life was written in collaboration with my remarkable mentor Suresh Srivastva (Cooperrider & Srivastva, 1987). That article generated more experimentation in the field, more academic excitement, and more innovation than anything we had ever written. As the passage of time has enabled me to look more closely at what was written, I feel both a deep satisfaction with the seed vision and scholarly logic offered for Appreciative Inquiry (AI), as well as well as the enormous impact and reverberation. Following the tradition of authors such as Carl Rogers who have re-issued their favorite works but have also added brief reflections on key points of emphasis, clarification, or editorial commentary we have decided to issue a reprint the early article by David L. Cooperrider and the late Suresh Srivastva in its entirety, but also with contemporary comments embedded. To be sure the comments offered are brief and serve principally to add points of emphasis to ideas we may have too hurriedly introduced. My comments – placed in indented format along the way – are focused on the content and themes of furthermost relevance to this volume on organizational generativity. In many ways I’ve begun to question today whether there can even be inquiry where there is no appreciation, valuing, or amazement – what the Greeks called thaumazein – the borderline between wonderment and admiration. One learning is that AI’s generativity is not about its methods or tools, but about our cooperative capacity to reunite seeming opposites such as theory as practice, the secular as sacred, and generativity as something beyond positivity or negativity. Appreciation is about valuing the life-giving in ways that serve to inspire our co-constructed future. Inquiry is the experience of mystery, moving beyond the edge of the known to the unknown, which then changes our lives. Taken together, where appreciation and inquiry are wonderfully entangled, we experience knowledge alive and an ever-expansive inauguration of our world to new possibilities.
This article presents a conceptual refiguration of action-research based on a “sociorationalist” view of science. The position that is developed can be summarized as follows: For action-research to reach its potential as a vehicle for social innovation it needs to begin advancing theoretical knowledge of consequence; that good theory may be one of the best means human beings have for affecting change in a postindustrial world; that the discipline's steadfast commitment to a problem solving view of the world acts as a primary constraint on its imagination and contribution to knowledge; that appreciative inquiry represents a viable complement to conventional forms of action-research; and finally, that through our assumptions and choice of method we largely create the world we later discover.
Cooperrider, D.L. (2013), "A Contemporary Commentary on Appreciative Inquiry in Organizational LifeAppreciative Inquiry in Organizational Life Cooperrider, D. and Srivastva, S. (1987). Appreciative inquiry in organizational life. In R. Woodman and W. Pasmore (Eds.),
Cooperrider, D. and Srivastva, S. (1987). Appreciative inquiry in organizational life. In R. Woodman and W. Pasmore (Eds.),
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