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Gantt, S.P. Agazarian, Y.M. (2007). Phases of System Development in Organizational Work groups: The Systems-Centred Approach for Intervening in Context. Organ. Soc. Dyn., 7(2):253-291.

(2007). Organizational and Social Dynamics, 7(2):253-291

Scientific Paper

Phases of System Development in Organizational Work groups: The Systems-Centred Approach for Intervening in Context1

Susan P. Gantt, Ph.D., ABPP and Yvonne M. Agazarian, ED.D.

Systems-centred training (SCT) adds a systems perspective to the literature on phases of development in work groups. SCT conceptualizes work groups as living human systems that move through a predictable sequence of developmental phases. The phase of development is the primary context in which work is done and the primary influence on how work is done. Thus, SCT interventions to work groups are directed to system phase development as well as to support goal achievement. This is especially significant given Wheelan's (2005) findings that greater phase development in work groups correlates with increased productivity.

SCT identifies three major phases in system development: authority, collaboration and integration. Each is characterized by distinctive challenges and dynamics, reflected in identifiable communication patterns and behaviours. Formulating change interventions that are phase-specific maximizes the potential for work while minimizing the frustrations inherent in a change process.

By intervening to the system structure, function and goal orientation, SCT develops the system rather than intervening to individual dynamics. Influencing a systems phase development shifts the work group communication norms and the functioning of the work group and develops emotional intelligence in the system as well as in its members.

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