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Frank Barrett, Ph.D. - Fielding Graduate University. Aptos, CA, US

Frank Barrett, Ph.D.

Doctoral Faculty - School of Leadership Studies | Fielding Graduate University


Creating learning organizations; improvisation and sustainability in organizations; appreciative inquiry as a positive mode of action.



Frank Barrett, Ph.D. Publication Frank Barrett, Ph.D. Publication Frank Barrett, Ph.D. Publication



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Frank Barrett.mp4 Catalyzing Innovation in Your Team




Frank Barrett, PhD, is a member of the doctoral faculty in the School of Leadership Studies at Fielding Graduate University. Frank is also an active jazz pianist. In addition to leading his own trios and quartets, he has traveled extensively in the United States, England, and Mexico with the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra.

Industry Expertise (3)

Training and Development



Areas of Expertise (6)

Appreciative Inquiry

Improvisation and Organizational Innovation

Organizational Learning

Spiritual Development

Social Impact of Information Technology

Global Studies

Accomplishments (2)

Co-Winner of Best Paper Award (professional)

(2003) Awarded for Planning on Spontaneity: Lessons from Jazz for a Democratic Theory of Change

Co-Winner of Best Paper Award (professional)

(1988) Awarded by the Organizational Development Division of the National Academy of Management

Education (3)

Weatherhead School of Management, Case Western Reserve University: PhD, Organizational Behavior 1989

University of Notre Dame: MA, International Relations 1977

University of Notre Dame: BA, English Literature

Affiliations (1)

  • Academy of Management : Member

Articles (5)

Appreciative inquiry: The power of the unconditional positive question

Handbook of Action Research

(2006) This chapter describes appreciative inquiry as a positive mode of action research which liberates the creative and constructive potential of organizations and human communities. Appreciative inquiry contrasts with problem-focused modes of of inquiry using deficit-based questions, which lead to deficit-based conversations, which in turn lead to deficit-based patterns of action. A case illustration is offered to show how appreciative inquiry uses the power of the unconditional positive question to overturn to tyranny of deficit-based vocabularies and opens up new alternatives for conversation and action.

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Coda—creativity and improvisation in jazz and organizations: Implications for organizational learning

Organization Science

(1998) After discussing the nature of improvisation and the unique challenges and dangers implicit in the learning task that jazz improvisers create for themselves, the author broadly outlines seven characteristics that allow jazz bands to improvise coherently and maximize social innovation in a coordinated fashion. He also draws on his own experience as a jazz pianist. Finally, implications for organizational design and managing for learning are suggested.

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The organizational construction of hegemonic masculinity: The case of the US Navy

Gender, Work & Organization

(1996) This article examines the construction of hegemonic masculinity within the US Navy. Based on life history interviews with 27 male officers, this study explores alternative discourses and identities of officers from three different communities in the Navy: aviation, surface warfare, and the supply corps. Definitions of masculinity are relationally constructed through associations of difference: aviators tend to draw upon themes of autonomy and risk taking; surface warfare officers draw upon themes of perseverance and endurance; and supply officers draw upon themes of technical rationality. Further, these masculinities depend upon various contrasting definitions of femininity. Finally, this article explores a series of contradictions that threaten the secure construction of masculinity within this military culture.

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The central role of discourse in large-scale change: A social construction perspective

The Journal of Applied Behavioural Sciences

(1995) This article reconceptualizes the change process from a rational planning perspective to an interpretive perspective emphasizing the social construction of meaning. Discourse is viewed as the core of the change process through which our basic assumptions about organizing are created, sustained, and transformed. To illustrate the dynamics of meaning systems, examples are provided of organizations shifting from mechanistic assumptions to become more adaptive, responsive, quality-oriented organizations. Implications for researchers and managers are included.

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Creating appreciative learning cultures

Organizational Dynamics

(1995) The current groundswell of interest in creating learning organizations is no surprise, given the depth and rate of change in the post-industrial revolution. The old mechanistic ways of thinking, appropriate for the industrial age, no longer suffice. Those who write about learning organizations contend that modern organizations must create contexts in which members can continually learn and experiment, think systematically, question their assumptions and mental models, engage in meaningful dialogue, and create visions that energize vision...

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