Kakabadse, N. K. and Kakabadse, A. P. (2003) Developing reflexive practitioners through collaborative inquiry: a case study of the UK civil service. International Review of Administrative Sciences.69(3), pp. 365-383. 0020-8523.
This article examines how a collaborative inquiry (ci) intervention has been effectively used to enhance change within central government organizations. The experience and learning from a 15-month ci process with a group of 12 senior managers from various departments/agencies within the UK civil service, is presented. The purpose of the inquiry was to assist public servants to meaningfully promote the ‘Modernizing Government’ agenda. Various participatory forms of inquiry and discourse dedicated to grasping cultural meaning from within the public service are explored as well as the requirements necessary for the creation of meaningful change. This article illustrates how harnessing diverse opinions through mutual inquiry can be a more fruitful form of pursuing change than the top-down rational approach or the more confrontational rhetorical models of debate. It concludes that the collaborative qualities of participation and democratic dialogue are especially pertinent to individual and organizational development as emphasis is placed on the contextual relevance of experiential knowledge, group and community development and the need to involve all participants in the task of defining the aims of change and creating meaningful futures. The impact of this inquiry is now being positively felt within the UK’s civil service as the members of the inquiry community apply their learning within their own departments.