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Facilitating local ownership through paradoxical interventions

Hans Vermaak – Journal of Applied Behavioral Science, 2012
Why do facilitators fail when they try too hard to help people?

The complexity of tough issues can only be handled effectively with intensive local participation. Such participation is not straightforward as people may shy away from the unfamiliar repertoires, unpredictable processes and inevitable opposition that come with the territory. This paper focuses on how to facilitate local ownership in a series of paradoxical interventions with sufficient depth and credibility. Read more…

Four contexts of action research

Crossing boundaries for productive interplay

Gertjan Schuiling, Hans Vermaak - International Journal of Action Research, 2017

This paper explores how action research takes place within and between four contexts: adding practical value, improving institutions, developing professions, and contributing to theory. We argue that action research is more than those activities conducted within these contexts: it is a process of handling the generative tensions in the boundary regions. Read more…

Creating a colorful model of change

Reflection on developing a theory as scholar-practitioners

Hans Vermaak, Léon de Caluwé- Journal of Management Inquiry, 2017

This article describes how, almost twenty years ago, we came up with a meta-theory of change, now referred to as the “color model,” and how that theory has developed over time. We look back, using Smith and Hitt’s four-stage model of theory development, to better understand how one creative idea took on many manifestations, became a robust theory and is now widely used. Read more…

Planning deep change through a series of small wins

Hans Vermaak - Best Paper Academy of Management, 2013
Find out why large scale change is rarely deep and why linear change paralyzes.

Complex issues require continuous change that is planned incrementally. This paper focuses on how such emergent change can be shaped through a process of small wins and explains how this may even use adversity to fuel the change. The research shows how planning is anything but an innocuous support activity for change efforts and describes how it can either frustrate or enable deep change. Read more…

The color test for change agents

How do you think about change?

Léon de Caluwé, Hans Vermaak – Twynstra Gudde, 2001
Assess your style preference

This is an interactive test that helps you identify your convictions about change. The test results can be used to assess what type of change agent you are: what you are good at and what could be developed further. Read more…

Change paradigms

An overview

Léon de Caluwé, Hans Vermaak – OD journal, 2004
A brief introduction in the ‘colors of change’

The authors present five fundamentally different ways of thinking about change, each representing different beliefs systems and convictions about how change works, the kind of interventions that are effective, how to change people, etc. Read more…

Navigating Institutional Complexity

Textual Agency for Cross-Level Change

Danielle Zandee, Hans Vermaak & Irene Jonkers - Paper Organizational Discourse Conference, 2014

Current reforms in for instance health care or community development in troubled neighborhoods, are brave attempts at social innovations toward a more sustainable society. Such innovations ask for the questioning, discarding and renewal of ingrained practices and their re-assemblage into novel forms of collective, coordinated action. Societal, macro – level transitions play out in organizational change efforts that are especially challenging because they need to address “wicked problems” that are complex and ambiguous in terms of both content and process and therefore defy the application of simple, short – term solutions. Instead, they require a multidimensional approach and the involvement of many actors with different interests, viewpoints and affiliations. Read more…

‘Defixation’ as an intervention perspective.

Understanding Wicked Problems at the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

A. Stoppelenburg, H. Vermaak - Journal of Management Inquiry, 2009
Systemic research to uncover the unwritten rules of an organization

This case study presents reflections on a research intervention conducted at the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The subject was the practice of administration. Its objective became to understand its “wicked problems” and to create action principles. It was an analytical research effort as well as a learning intervention. Read more…

Designing Appreciative Inquiry as a Generative Change Process

Stretching the Practice of this Dialogic Approach

Danielle Zandee and Hans Vermaak – Paper Organizational Discourse Conference, 2012
A common language for situated AI design based on a discussion of current contrasting practices and recurring criticism of prevailing AI designs. How can we get more out of this intervention approach?

Because of its apparent simplicity and luring strength-based stance, appreciative inquiry can be misunderstood as an attractive and easy to emulate technique. Such misunderstanding may cause slippage from thoughtful inquiry into a managerial tool to create motivational experiences at work rather than to engage with complex issues. Such slippage may ultimately turn the appreciative approach into another disappointing management fad. Fortunately, the prolific use of appreciative inquiry during the last decades provides us with rich experiential material for timely reflection, critique and renewal. Read more…

OD without context management is a luxury item.

Paper for a symposium on the future of Organizational Development

Hans Vermaak, Annual Academy of management Conference, 2006
Organization Development suffers from a lack of pragmatism about power

OD has an established tradition. There is a community of practice, academic research, handbooks in all sorts, development of new practices, lots of publications, proven methods. All seems fine. At the same time there is recurrent talk and publications expressing worry about the future of OD. Read more…

Conspiring fruitfully with professionals

Hans Vermaak, Mathieu Weggeman - Management Decision, 1999
Evergreen lessons for dealing with professionals … and enjoying it.

Professionalism still is on the way up. However, the working methods of managers and professionals do not develop at the same pace. Professionals often seek out their workplace within an organisation but then proceed to act as soloists, which makes fragmentation, mediocrity and non-commitment the rule rather than the exception. The manager’s reflex dictates that he/she tackles problems with control and command, resulting in all sorts of conflicts. Read more…

A potential method for determination of gaseous and particulate lead in exhaust gas

Microwave-induced air-plasma emission spectrometry and Zeeman furnace atomic absorption spectrometry

Hans Vermaak, Osamu Kujurai, Shigeki Hanamura, James Winefordner – Canadian Journal of Spectroscopy, 1986
A blast from the past: a publication dating back to when I was involved in chemistry research

In the 80’s lead in the air was a real environmental and health issue. It was caused by many things like lead paint on houses, but mostly by exhaust gases from traffic. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) gave the University of Florida a grant to create a device that would measure lead content in air. During my studies at that university I participated in that research. The article shows some of its findings. Read more…