Department of Conflict Resolution Studies Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences – Department of Conflict Resolution Studies

First Advisor

Alexia Georgakopoulos

Second Advisor

Claire M. Rice

Third Advisor

Urzula Strawinska-Zanko


Change, Conflict, Dialogic OD, Liberating Structures, Shared Leadership, Transformation


As leaders must increasingly find ways to include and engage others in a power-with approach to competently meet today’s complex challenges, the problem occurs when they find themselves stuck within pre-existing systems structured for exclusion and power-over others. These conventional structures are a source of systemic conflict. This participatory action research/cooperative inquiry case study focuses on the topic of leading organizational change collaboratively in the space between formal hierarchical structures and informal human dynamics using a qualitative methodology. The purpose of this study is to understand how a newly developed Liberating Structures Problem Solving (LSPS) model of facilitation helps participants of a contract manufacturing firm navigate this space through a collaborative dialogic organization development (OD) approach to change within a hierarchical organization structure. The theoretical underpinning of this research is a dialogic OD approach to change using Lipmanowicz and McCandless’s liberating structures group processes grounded in complexity science and social constructionism. The methodological approach is cooperative inquiry, a form of radically participative action research. Triangulation of data was employed using video-recordings, observations, reflections and interviews. The study involved 21 participants from different functions and levels within the organization. Findings demonstrate the importance of including diverse participants in dialogic events; improved communication and relationships; reduced tooling costs; and a modified organizational macrostructure to be more inclusive. Implications of this study suggest the LSPS model was instrumental in helping this organization shift from conventional leadership structures towards a shared leadership approach that helped ignite transformational change.