University of Leicester
2018SINGERJDEdD.pdf (2.58 MB)

Dialogic Development Process (DDP) - an action research study into complex community change in an international school

Download (2.58 MB)
posted on 2018-06-15, 14:08 authored by Jeremy David Singer
The already complex nature of international schools has been magnified by the multiple external influences of rapid globalisation, the agenda of the Global Education Reform Movement and the increasing commercialisation and corporatism within the sector. As a result traditionally planned change processes have become difficult to sustain. Typically, the success of these planned change processes depends upon the personality and skills of the school leader in attempting to control or reduce the impact of complexity. This study adopts an alternative perspective viewing complexity not as a leadership problem to be managed, but as a potential source of creativity to be embraced. The alternative approach sees change as an emergent social process best delivered through dialogue and embedded leadership. This leads to a conceptual framework of Dialogic Development Process (DDP) as a way to understand how dialogue contributes to emergent thinking and learning, the promotion of an organisational culture of innovation and to sustained organisational change. A mixed methods action research project was conducted over three years. An intervention used a cyclical process of appreciative inquiry workshops to facilitate generative dialogue with the on-going participation of the wider community. The intervention led to better strategic planning and a number of rapid transformative shifts in thinking and practice in the school’s change process. Dialogue contributed to the emergence of innovative actionable and coherent plans. Decentralised control and embedded leadership led to greater participant agency and ownership of outcomes. Community involvement contributed to organisational coherence and a networked perspective, and enhanced the legitimacy of the Head. Though further testing is required the Dialogic Development Process framework holds promise as a model for emergent change in complex organisations like international schools.



Wood, Phil; Woodhouse, Joan

Date of award


Author affiliation

School of Education

Awarding institution

University of Leicester

Qualification level

  • Doctoral

Qualification name

  • EdD



Usage metrics

    University of Leicester Theses


    No categories selected



    Ref. manager