An Exploratory Study of Competencies of Appreciative Inquiry Practitioners: Discovery

Open Access
Newhard, Michele L.
Graduate Program:
Workforce Education and Development
Doctor of Philosophy
Document Type:
Date of Defense:
February 19, 2010
Committee Members:
  • William J Rothwell, Committee Chair
  • Judith Ann Kolb, Committee Member
  • Edgar Paul Yoder, Committee Member
  • Susan E Cromwell, Committee Member
  • Jacqueline M Stavros, Committee Member
  • appreciative inquiry
  • competencies
  • competency study
  • strengths-based
  • organization development
  • qualitative research
  • coding
  • thematic analysis
  • grounded theory
Since virtually no research exists on the competencies required to be a qualified appreciative inquiry (AI) practitioner, this study’s purpose was to identify the competencies necessary for successful AI practice (Bushe & Marshak, 2009). Competency studies assist in development of the practice, inform the academic departments teaching the field’s newcomers, and provide scholarly contribution to the field (Rothwell, 2005; Rothwell, Sanders, & Soper, 1999). This study also sought to discern the impact of a strengths-based protocol on competency model development. Competency studies have been developed through the deficit-based mindset of the positivist view (Garavan & McGuire, 2001) while AI, an approach to organizational change akin to organization development (OD), has developed in the interpretive philosophical paradigm, allowing for its constructionist essence (Cooperrider & Srivastva, 1987). Despite an underlying tension in coupling of these two paradigmatically disparate concepts, the exploratory qualitative study investigated what competencies might be discovered through interviews with AI practitioners and how those resulting AI practitioner competencies might compare with the OD practitioner competencies in the literature (Worley, Rothwell, & Sullivan, 2005). Using grounded theory and thematic analysis (Boyatzis, 1998; Charmaz, 2006; Strauss & Corbin, 1998) the data provided answers to the research questions despite a variety of limitations and began a new research area for AI and competency studies.