Original Research

Co-constructing Appreciative Inquiry across disciplines: A duo-ethnography

Corinne Meier, Dirk J. Geldenhuys
SA Journal of Industrial Psychology | Vol 43 | a1400 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajip.v43i0.1400 | © 2017 Corinne Meier, Dirk J. Geldenhuys | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 25 July 2016 | Published: 29 March 2017

About the author(s)

Corinne Meier, Department of Early Childhood Education, University of South Africa, South Africa
Dirk J. Geldenhuys, Department of Industrial and Organisational Psychology, University of South Africa, South Africa


Orientation: Appreciative Inquiry (AI) has become increasingly popular as a tool for change management in the world of business and is spilling over into a range of contexts, linking a diversity of disciplines. However, instances where management has used AI in consultation with education for collaborative purposes could not be traced as yet.

Research purpose: The aim of this study was for two AI practitioners, one in the field of Industrial and Organisational Psychology and one in Education, to partake in a collaborative study proceeding from reflection on the said researchers’ experiences with facilitating AI in different contexts.

Motivation for the study: With social constructionism as a core principle underlying AI, it is argued that sharing experiences across disciplines could enrich the literature and the application of AI in different contexts.

Research design, approach and method: The research is based on a qualitative, empirical, duo-ethnography using self-reflective narratives of the experiences of facilitating AI in cross-disciplinary contexts.

Main findings: Reflecting on experiences in various disciplines lead to the co-construction of new knowledge. Not only were similar experiences supported, validated and extended, thus affirming the strength-based principle of AI, but it also provided the opportunity for disciplinary cross-fertilisation by combining different perspectives regarding the formality of the AI process and the extent of the facilitator’s and participants readiness to work with AI methodology.

Practical/managerial implications: The formality of the AI process and hence the extent of the facilitator’s involvement (signalling his or her readiness to participate actively and take the lead in co-creating a new reality) must be tempered by due allowance for the participant’s readiness to work with AI methodology. Furthermore, participants should be accommodated within the psychological space where they find themselves at the moment when the intended intervention is initiated.

Contribution/value-add: Duo-ethnography provided the researchers with the opportunity to challenge the ‘other’ to reflect on their own discipline-related AI experiences, in a deeper, more relational and authentic way. The voices and ideas identified and presented counter narratives, also blended in unique ways to augment the definition of AI as a multidisciplinary force to co-create a better society. More specifically, the ‘readiness’ of the facilitator for an AI encounter was conceptualised and applied to the psychological and behavioural readiness of not only the participants, but also the facilitators of AI workshops.


appreciative inquiry; change readiness; management sciences; education; duo-ethnography; cross disciplinary collaboration; negativity bias


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