Russ Volckmann

Journal of Organizational Change Management: Integrally informed approaches to organizational transformation, Nancy E. Landrum and Jim Paul, eds., 18, 3, 2005.

There is no way I can do justice to the material in this publication. Therefore, I will highlight a couple of interesting pieces related to Integral Leadership. Here is the articles included in this issue:

  • Thierry C. Pauchant, Integral Leadership: a research proposal
  • Ron Cacioppe and Mark G. Edwards, Adjusting blurred visions: a typology of integral approaches to organizations
  • Nancy E. Landrum and Carolyn L. Gardner, Using integral theory to effect strategic change
  • Carla C.J.M. Millar, Chong Ju Choi, Edward T. Russell and Jai-Boem Kim, Open source communities: an integrally informed approach
  • Mark G. Edwards, The integral holon: a holonics approach to organizational change and transformation
  • Russ Volckmann, Assessing executive leadership: an integral approach

To the best of my knowledge, this is the first peer-reviewed journal to devote a special issue to any aspect of integral studies. If you know of others, please let me know.

Thierry Pauchant’s work is included in past issues of Integral Leadership Review, including an interview.

Here he updates the work being done on the integral 100 leaders project. The work of Mark Edwards, in particular,

and Ron Cacioppe have been referred to and I hope will be the subject of further development in future issues of this Review. Their article provides a useful taxonomy of integral theories applied to organizations. My article is an extension of work that has been published, in part, in this Review. Therefore, this summary will focus on the Landrum/Gardner and Millar et al articles.


One of the reasons that this issue is so interesting is that each author (or set) has sought a way to summarize aspects of integral theory in order to set a context for their explorations of specific subjects. In the case of Landrum/Gardner this summary has focused on quadrants and stages, principally represented by the notions of pre-modern, modern and post modern. They draw on the business literature to compare and contrast the functioning of organizations like Monsanto and Dole (pre-modern) with Dell and Mattel (modern) and Ben and Jerry’s and The Body shop (post-modern). The distinctions are made drawing primarily on organization development focus and the values (individual, collective and environmental) championed by the companies.

After reviewing some strategic change methodologies (Weisbord search conferences, Freeman stakeholder analysis, etc.) the authors advocate for approaches that are AQAL (all quadrant, all levels). They give examples of how individual companies have undertaken activities to address the quadrants: Dell’s efforts at culture change based on values and ethics, Austaco’s provision of spiritual outlets for employees. They also point to “outer-collective” activities represented by individual companies “forcing multinational enterprises worldwide?…to change their worldviews and adopt better practices in order to maintain strategic parity.”

Essentially, this is a ground breaking paper that opens up the important subject of how an integral approach can help to shape and promote strategic efforts at change in systems.

Millar et al

Refreshingly, Millar et al do not summarize Wilber or other integral theorists, but apply the integral idea (particularly the holon) to examining Open Source Software communities (a model for peer-to-peer networks and a challenge to our traditional ways of thinking of organizations and work –Russ). The authors “propose that the OSS phenomenon, as a disruptive change in the organization of software development work, can be better understood if it is framed within the all-quadrant-all-levels (AQAL) matrix.” They sort alternative approaches to this phenomenon by quadrants. The upper right uses the economic self-interest model of Spence. Social and anthropological approaches address the left hand quadrants (interior individual and collective) and is based on kinship, trust and reciprocity according to Schwimmer. The authors then use AQAL to “round out” the existing approaches. For example, they use the model to integrate the notions of intrinsic and extrinsic value and motivation, together with the concepts of exchange.

They have essentially introduced psychological concepts into an otherwise academic polarity between economic benefit and intrinsic motivations. They state:

“We attempt to bridge these polarized frameworks by introducing psychological concepts, which can be seen as the primary driving force in the proliferation of OSS. As OSS resources are created, the open access and reusability that are together with intrinsic motivation effects create identification with that community. This forms a community with a shared value system, including the psychological contract mechanism, which reinforces the commitment of individual contributors.”

They continue, using the holon (four cell matrix):

“?…to display the drivers, their precedence, and their impacts across a much wider range of experience than can be comprehended in traditional anthropological or classical economic treatments alone. Personal values, including propensity to intrinsic motivation, are the principal drivers which stimulate individuals to contribute work to the complex organizational system in which OSS is developed. Within the OSS community an individual’s contribution to development may lead to reputation enhancement which in turn may be rewarded by personal benefits?…It is also the case that personal benefits may accrue as a side-effect of the shared values and culture that characterize the OSS community?…The processes and systems of OSS, in particular the communication processes and protocols for virtual teamwork, support and encourage the culture, shared values, sense of participation in a common effort.”

A Reflection:

In the early days of group dynamics and organization development as fields of study and practice the flow of information was widely shared within the community, albeit not facilitated by the advances in technology available today (I may be faulted for romanticism here). By the late 1960s or early ‘70s things started to change. Publishing and training houses began to copyright training material and tools (even when others may have developed them) in a clear attempt — that later spread throughout the community — to monetize the investment of creativity in the field. In the field of integral theory, there seemed to be a similar commitment to openness and sharing facilitated by the Web and telephonic conferencing capabilities. A virtual community had become more vibrant and alive than what had existed before in OD, training and many other fields. In recent years there have been activities to restrict access to ideas and information in the name of building more lasting institutions of learning and consulting. This seems to be driven by extrinsic motivations. And there continues to be avenues of more open sharing and communication that keeps this era exciting and alive. I hope that the Integral Leadership Review grows to be a meaningful contribution to an open system for the applications of integral theory. Therefore, I hope to see more practitioners publishing widely in journals that facilitate access to this important direction.

— Russ Volckmann