Rev. Date 9/20/07
Notes on Writing a Concept Paper:
From Dr. Adizes: "The thesis is not a field study. It is definitely not a controlled experiment. It must be a thought piece supported by the literature you read. It must present a new theory, your theory on the subject. So please focus on change and integration."
Note that all of Dr. Adizes books must be referenced in the dissertation.
The proposal should be 8-10 pages maximum.
Overarching objectives of the Concept Paper - The goal of the program is to create unifying theories of change. You do not have to prove that your theory/method works, this research should be all qualitative, grounded in social research methods primarily via literature review (other studies and theorists, across multiple disciplines). AGS is not looking for results shown as data - and in fact, we do not want this. AGS is not looking to prove anything; we are looking for unifying theories of how change can be managed across disciplines and cultures.
Key Texts – Don’t forget APA style! For the Concept Paper, you need to identify literature in the field which will help you determine whether anything similar has been done before, as if you were writing a patent. Your concept must be original to earn the Ph.D. Although the full literature review is part of the dissertation process and includes a comparison of Adizes methodology in depth, you will have to have a working knowledge of key texts, past studies done on this subject in various fields, reports and current work in the field in order to begin to assure that your concept is original. You will identify 5 disciplines in which to begin your initial research – and it may be a good idea to chunk your texts into those five areas.
Key Terminology – You must define the key terms – these are words used in your original Research Question, and in the body of your paper. One caution here: Many students seek to use Spiral Dynamics in their model design. You should not plan to teach Spiral Dynamics to your Doctoral Committee and external evaluators! Do not use coded language unless absolutely essential – use plain English to describe the phenomenon – such as transformation processes in social evolution, value systems, and expressions of value systems – rather than “red to blue”, “orange thinking” or “turquoise system”, “memes”, etc. Value systems can be described to your readers the same way Dr. Don Beck describes them to his students, in common language.
Adizes methodology has more ‘human readable’ concepts – such as the (I)ntegrator… the term actually describes the function so it is meaningful, and CAPI (Coalesced Authority, Power and Influence) is just an acronym. The same is true of Ken Wilbur’s quadrants, and the term ‘integral’, for example. You only need to provide a specific definition for your context.
Definitions are important because they anchor your research. If you can find a definition in an actual source and quote it properly, a formal citation in APA style, that would be ideal. It doesn’t matter if you use the Bible or a Psychology book, as long as the definition suits your purpose and anchors your research.
Graduate Advisor – This individual is no longer needed. Instead, you will identify the Chair of your committee and other committee members. Identifying a mentor in your professional field will inform your initial concept as well as help you connect with key resources (past and present), guide your writing, and further the practical acceptance of your work in your own professional field.
A CV is required and you should write a brief statement regarding why you selected this person and how they are appropriate to the task. The task of participating on the Doctoral Committee is described elsewhere, but generally includes two meeting sessions that are composed of a) individual review of your submission in writing, b) exchanging notes between all committee members for review, c) joint review of all concerns, comments, recommendations via conference call. You participate during part of this call. The DocCom members and Chair are paid for approximately 10 hours work at a rate of $50/hour for each committee session. When you submit your Concept Paper, submit the CV’s of the persons you have selected for the DocCom.
One other important comment - - be sure to select people who have the expertise within your professional setting, because this is where you will apply your model and - if you plan to apply it - you will benefit from professional validation outside of AGS. When you submit the Concept Paper, be sure to identify the person that you would like to be the Chair, and be sure you have discussed the role with this person.
Investigation, or Research Activities – The first part of your investigation is your Literature Review. That should be done in fair depth prior to anything else. DO NOT begin pilot studies or interviews until after you have approval from your Doctoral Committee!!
AGS theses do not require experiments, and thus the investigation should be literature based, and then compare methodologies via social research, qualitative research. This means that you will be reading the related work (books, articles, studies) of other theorists in multiple disciplines, looking to extract key concepts that relate to your Question. You will interview experts in order to search out even more studies and literature that may also be related to your specific area of inquiry. You will identify key experts, and the Doctoral Committee will provide more. You will integrate the components of theories that add to the design of your model for managing change, and discard the rest – justifying the process.
You will start with the Literature Review – which will include books, but you will also search for prior studies on the subject you have selected, articles, etc. You will start with about 5 disciplines like anthropology, management theory, biology, psychology, philosophy, sociology. Those are specified in the Concept Paper, but the Lit Review will then expand further into other disciplines and cross-cultural studies. The Lit Review should be complete and submitted in the First Term of supervision, and you can also submit drafts of any survey instruments or questionnaires, etc… for input, feedback or approval at that time.
Often a Literature Review is a circular process where, at some point, you find your experts and books are referring you back to resources you’ve already studied… at this point, you will be nearing the end of this part of the research cycle.
Manuals: Be sure to read the Thesis Manual to inform yourself regarding the requirements of the project. The Thesis Manual is on the “Manuals” page of our website - on every page of the website there is a link at the bottom to the “Manuals” page.
Suggestions for Project Planning:
It might be a good idea just to start putting your "goals or objectives" on paper - try to narrow it into 2-3 sentences, and eventually just ONE. Try to be sure that the development of this one sentence will require only one area of exploration across multiple disciplines.
Then you might consider “chunking” a description of the project plan into the sections below. The Concept Paper can be broader than the final product... it only needs to be a
few pages describing what you want to achieve - what problems need solving?
The concept paper does not have to be an outline, but an outline or “chunking strategy”
might help you to begin your work and select some initial resources and areas of exploration.
Chunking strategy used in the Concept Writing Course:
2.0 Purpose of Study (1-3 paragraphs)
3.0 Research Questions (include one primary question relevant to your title)
4.0 Relevance and originality of topic to improvement in key management area (5-7 paragraphs)
5.0 Management Context (3-5 paragraphs)
6.0 Proposed Research Method
7.0 Proposed Research Activities (include literature review and first 5 disciplines you'll explore)
8.0 Key Texts
9.0 Key Terms
10.0 Experts/Doctoral Committee
11.0 Proposed Timeline/Deliverables (in the first term of supervision you usually submit the Lit Review and first drafts of any survey instruments, questionnaires, etc. In the second term, you will get final approval on those and you can begin any work with people - such as doing formal interviews. In the third term you submit your final draft, conclusions, examination of bias, and reflections on ways that the process might have been improved or might be improved in the future.)
12.0 Other suggestions for aiding your own focus:
• Define the population and/or sample population (or industries, cultures) affected.
• Identify a range of (resources for) perspectives/viewpoints on the issue
• Identify studies done on this subject in the past (i.e. if you are studying cooperatives, you might look at food cooperatives, farmers markets, housing cooperatives, economic cooperatives, cooperative development initiatives in other countries and cultures, educational cooperatives, kibutz and other social cooperatives, etc.)
Suggestions from a Research Methodologies course at AGS
Your work should review your research methodology from the prism of these qualitative methods:
Observations/interviewing as data collection methods
Your final paper should discuss this, and:
Justification of the research problem
Justification of the research methods
Description and justification of analytical approach
Identification of limitations and biases
Suggestions from an AGS Doctoral Committee:
The student must attend to the following as s/he begins his or her dissertation work:
1. S/he needs to identify a framework (management context).
2. S/he needs to define specific aspects of change and management that s/he wants to explore as they relate to this framework. What commonality is s/he looking for? S/he should simplify the definition of key terms. The concise definitions will anchor his or her thoughts and frame the research question as s/he explores multiple disciplines.
3. S/he needs to write a singular Research Question. This will help the research to be more specific. It will also help him or her extract relevant core arguments and assumptions from each person s/he interviews, and each research study that s/he reads.
4. S/he needs to identify certain disciplines (like mathematics, psychology, sociology, economics, political science, psychiatry) in which s/he will initially start research (interviews, lit review), and then s/he should branch out - - s/he should not be constrained at all as s/he explores across multiple disciplines, but can start with persons referred by the Doctoral Committee and his or her own resources. S/he should be very thorough before s/he moves on. S/he should avoid irrelevant minutiae and focus on core assumptions and arguments, seeking commonalities.
5. The process s/he should use to launch the project is to start with field research - interviews with experts in the field, in the various disciplines, collecting perspectives as well as suggested resources for literature review.
6. S/he needs discipline and organization, to develop a road map clarifying how s/he will proceed (as above), while recognizing that the road map will evolve. This road-map will take the form of a one-page Concept Paper, which should be completed before anything else is attempted.