APROS/EGOS Symposium 01: Positive organisational scholarship: A space for critical creativity


Ann Dadich, University of Western Sydney, Australia
Steven Campbell, University of Tasmania, Australia
Joanne Curry, University of Western Sydney, Australia
Mary Ditton, University of New England, United Kingdom
Kathy Eljiz, University of Tasmania, Australia
Anneke Fitzgerald, Griffith University, Australia
Liz Fulop, Griffith University, Australia
Kathryn Hayes, Griffith University, Australia
Carmel Herington, Macquarie University, Australia
Godfrey Isouard, University of New England, United Kingdom
Leila Karimi, La Trobe University, Australia
Anne Smyth, University of New England, Australia


Adjunct Prof. Fulop & Dr Karimi: Introduction to POS
Prof. Fitzgerald & Ms Smyth: National exemplars of POS
Mr MacDonald: International exemplars of POS
Prof. Campbell: Furthering POS

The examination of mismanaged organisations is relatively common in management literature. Academics cast their scholarly-eye on poor practices and draw considerable attention to them. This can have considerable implications for critical scholarship. It can silence positive experiences; stereotype managers as part of a systemic problem; as well as diminish learning opportunities and innovation – for instance, neurological research suggests that negativity can narrow cognitive access to the possibility of positive change 1. Conversely, spaces that permit individuals to voice positive experiences create opportunities to cultivate knowledge and foster constructive change. This symposium will help to redress the imbalance by focusing on positive organisational scholarship (POS).

In an era of managerial ‘crises’, a positive approach to examine and understand organisational practices comes as a breath of fresh air. POS is an emerging movement, inspiring researchers to understand human excellence within organisational spaces 2. It is ‘the study of that which is positive, flourishing and life giving in organisations’3. POS does not ignore or denigrate non-positive phenomena that are the focus of critical inquiry; but rather, it seeks to study success because success and its associated phenomena are inherently attractive4 – furthermore, success helps to reveal resilience and capacity-building.

POS is particularly useful when examining space as experience, creativity, innovation, and design. Its approaches, including appreciative inquiry, relational coordination, and positive deviance can promote reflexivity, positive outcomes, and shape organisations that flourish in the face of adversity 5. In addition to optimising conceptual clarity, cogent methodologies – like those within POS – can guide the neophyte, encourage experimentation among veteran scholars, and contribute to a smorgasbord of research approaches.

This symposium will demonstrate and cultivate the various approaches of POS. Academic and practitioner presentations will reveal: what POS encompasses, what is beyond its purview, and how it represents a novel approach; how POS opens spaces for creativity and innovation, and the evidence that POS can make a difference; the detrimental aspects associated with POS and how they can be managed; how scholars and practitioners can manage the potential retreat to conventional (and perhaps familiar) approaches that obscure (if not silence) POS; the methodologies that challenge POS and how these differences can be managed (lest POS become a separatist movement); and how scholars and practitioners can engage others who do not readily recognise the potential of POS, including (but not limited to) managers, policymakers, and funding bodies. The symposium will also open a space for dialogue to further POS. More specifically, participants will be invited to co-develop POS projects to examine and understand organisational practices.

1.         Fredrickson BL, Joiner T. Positive emotions trigger upward spirals toward emotional well-being. Psychological Science 2002; 13(2): 172-5.

2.         Donaldson SI, Ko I. Positive organizational psychology, behavior, and scholarship: A review of the emerging literature and evidence base. Journal of Positive Psychology 2010; 5(3): 177-91.

3.         Cameron KS, Caza A. Contributions to the discipline of positive organizational scholarship. American Behavioral Scientist 2004; 47(6): 731-9.

4.         Bernstein SD. Positive organizational scholarship: Meet the movement: An interview with Kim Cameron, Jane Dutton, and Robert Quinn. Journal of Management Inquiry 2003; 12(3): 266-71.

5.         Cameron K, Lavine M. Making the impossible possible: Leading extraordinary performance. San Francisco, CA: Berrett-Koehler Publishers; 2006.


Adjunct Professor Liz Fulop is an Adjunct Professor at Griffith University and Adjunct Professor of Health at University of New England. Her main area of interest is leadership in healthcare settings and patient/consumer centred care.

Dr Leila Karimi is a Senior Lecturer in Health Services Management at La Trobe University with research experience in organisational psychology and community health.

Professor Anneke Fitzgerald is affiliated with Griffith University. Her research combines health management, organisational behaviour, and implementation studies in a pragmatic paradigm.

Anne Smyth is an Organisation and Leadership Development Consultant and Adjunct Senior Lecturer at University of New England. She works with organisations in health and community services helping them and their leaders build capability and confidence.

Ian MacDonald is the Managing Director of Studer Group Australia, New Zealand and South East Asia & Australian Health Services Group. This follows over 25 years of healthcare industry experience in both the public and private sectors in a variety of executive and managerial roles.

Professor Steve Campbell is Head of the School of Nursing and Midwifery at the University of Tasmania. His prime interest is in the improvement of care and services from a patient perspective, and has led a research centre and a research programme on this in the UK.

Posted On: June 8, 2014
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