The doctoral dissertations of the former Helsinki University of Technology (TKK) and Aalto University Schools of Technology (CHEM, ELEC, ENG, SCI) published in electronic format are available in the electronic publications archive of Aalto University - Aaltodoc.

A Study of Organizational Dialogue. Facing the Truth, Gaining Inspiration and Creating Understanding of the Function of an Organization

Jani Roman

Dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Science in Technology to be presented with due permission of the Department of Industrial Engineering and Management for public examination and debate in Auditorium TU2 at Helsinki University of Technology (Otaniementie 17, Espoo, Finland) on the 27th of August, 2005, at 12 o'clock noon.

Dissertation in PDF format (ISBN 951-22-7703-4)   [1350 KB]
Dissertation is also available in print (ISBN 951-22-7702-6)


This dissertation examines dialogue in an organizational context within the framework of the "learning organization" theory. The purpose of this research is to create a deeper understanding of dialogue as a phenomenon in organizations, to identify its phases, and to construct a renewed model for organizational dialogue based on empirical data and the models of Isaacs (1996) and Schein (1993), as well as Nonaka (1995). The theory is expanded by non-organizational scholars from teaching, philosophy and therapy settings.

Dialogue is investigated here through two case studies in two organizations. The first case is a little parish organization in a small town, dealing with local people and the situations they face in their daily lives, including birth and death. The second case is a newly arrived top IT and consulting company, working with leading companies in Finland. In the first case I conducted ten dialogue sessions and in the second three. The dialogues were tape-recorded and transcribed.

The material was analyzed using three different qualitative methods: 1) against the theory of Isaacs (1996) and Schein (1993) by creating a category system and analyzing every phrase in the dialogues; 2) analyzing the end phrases of participants to understand what benefits they experienced from dialogues, and 3) analyzing the narrative structures of dialogues to understand the structure and the phases of dialogue. In addition a survey of the participants was conducted.

The findings of the study indicate that dialogues can evolve and be improved. The dialogue theory of Isaacs and Schein was validated, but was also expanded by a renewed model, which describes the phases of dialogue as follows: 1) creating a contact, 2) warming up themes, 3) major conversation, and 4) integration.

The findings also indicate that dialogue, the method used in this study, improves the quality of communication, inspires the participants, clears up the culture of organizations, and produces new ideas.

Keywords: dialogue, learning organization, knowledge management, corporate culture

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© 2005 Helsinki University of Technology

Last update 2011-05-26