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“The object of a dialogue is not to analyze things, or to win an argument, or to exchange opinions. Rather, it is to suspend your opinions and to look at the opinions — to listen to everybody’s opinion, to suspend them, and to see what it all means. Each person is participating, is partaking of the whole meaning of the group and also taking part in it. We can call that a true dialogue” (David Bohm, 1996).

About the Dialogues

From their inception, Group Relations Conferences have provided unique experiential learning opportunities to study the exercise of authority in groups and organizational systems. In the succeeding years of the original conferences at Leicester, this model of experiential learning has been developed in many parts of the world (e.g., Australia, Israel, South Africa, Peru, Germany, Estonia, Great Britain, United States, India, China, France), and has shifted to include a range of thematic overlays to the basic group learning model, with additional conference design schemes that range from dreaming matrices to meditation. Presumably, the modifications in the learning model have been made largely to adapt to changing times, to address an increasingly diverse and globalized membership, and ultimately to make the conference experience more relevant and applicable to members’ outside work lives. But controversy exists within the field around what is the legitimate model for overall group relations learning inclusive of, but not limited to, research, clinical applications and organizational development work.

This 3rd AKRI Dialogues seeks to bring together consultants, researchers, clinicians, coaches, social scientists, activists, educators, and others whose work is influenced by group relations methodology. We asked interested parties are invited to further dialogue on the questions of:

  1. What can legitimately be called group relations work?
  2. What are the various language(s) and variety of events that make up today’s iterations of group relations conferences?
  3. How do they get interpreted as indeed part of the group relations ideology?
  4. Does a role­-systems focus leave out too much; does a person-­role focus dilute the strength of the model?
  5. What part of group relations work changes over time and perhaps represents evolution, and/or corruption?
  6. How does the so­called traditional model meet 21st century societal and organizational challenges? And what specifically are these challenges?
  7. With creative adaptations to the design model and shifts in the focus of interpretation, when does the model lose its legitimacy?
  8. What is it that people learn and how is this learning applied to their outside lives?
  9. What, if any, types of adaptations to the model might be made to meet the learning needs of a 21st century workforce?
  10. Where is the research that might support the ongoing development of this work?

Based on the above, the AKRI Dialogues III Committee invited proposals that explore the various group relations themes as they relate to research, conference design and “real world” application of the learning and the work.

Our hope for this meeting is to begin to explore: “What is Learning for Leadership in the 21st Century?”

The Dialogues III website lists the events for the upcoming Dialogues, as well as pre-Dialogues training, member events, and networking opportunities.

I hope that you will join us in Chicago this coming September!


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