Doctor of Philosophy in Organizational Transformation

The Doctor of Philosophy in Organizational Transformation

Students may enter the online PhD program in Organizational Transformation if you have a Master’s Degree or 30 units of graduate credit.

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The Online PhD in Organizational Transformation is not accepting new students:

Students who have completed a Master of Arts Degree in Organizational Transformation or have 30 units of graduate credit must take the nine (9) academic courses described below plus 3 terms of supervised dissertation writing:

  • Adizes methodology
  • Epistemology
  • Models of Conflict
  • Principles of Healing
  • Qualitative Research
  • System Life Cycles
  • Systems Thinking
  • Spiral Dynamics
  • Theories of Change and Development

Maximum Estimated Cost for the Ph.D. $24,000 +$100+ $1200 = $25,300. This program is 9 classes and 3 terms of supervised writing (total: 12 classes, 60 credits)

The following notes are for ALL students:

Capstone Project:  The goal of the Ph.D. in Organizational Transformation is to design a sustainable model for managing change in your own unique context, whether it be on the individual, organizational or societal level. This process is intended to integrate multiple change management theories from across many disciplines into a new model which must be theoretically validated in a comprehensive literature review and using qualitative methods. Students are expected to integrate theories into a new and sustainable functional design.

To do this, Ph.D. candidates will critically examine existing literature, including Adizes methods in context, studies done on similar subjects in various fields such as psychology, anthropology, biology, sociology, and practical applications in similar management contexts – whether in the same field or not, and in different cultures. Students will focus on qualitative research methods in science, philosophy and the humanities, seeking commonalities in existing research and theory.  Literature review is critical to validating the model. The model must be grounded in theory.

Although population must be defined, and methods could be designed to substantiate the potential of the model for implementation, the model is to be validated theoretically through literature review, not by trial. The design of the model is the essence of the thesis, not testing it. The collection of quantitative ‘data’ and data analysis are discouraged. The model itself is the subject of research, and other supporting developments and findings are comparatively insignificant.

To be more explicit: Tools developed to collect or analyze data as a method of implementation of the model, or the actual implementation and testing of the model itself are not part ofthe model and are relatively insignificant to the quality of the model design. The Graduate School would be interested in seeing the results of such a study, however those results are not required for the dissertation and should not be a major focus. The student is cautioned to specifically focus on the design and grounding of their model in theory via literature review, not the design of tools for testing or implementation.

Concept Paper  All students who are admitted to the online PhD degree program at AGS are required to submit a Concept Paper for formal evaluation by the Doctoral Committee in order to be formally accepted as Ph.D. candidates and begin dissertation writing. They may submit a Concept Paper for approval anytime after completing courses in Adizes methodology, Spiral Dynamics and Epistemology. Students should not conduct interviews, surveys, pilots, or any other activities beyond the Literature Review prior to getting approval of their Concept and related documents for use in the field.

After completion of the three academic courses referenced above, students may submit a Concept Paper for approval, at which time their Doctoral Committee is formed by the Academic Dean. Students submit the qualifications of their intended Chair and selected committee members with their Concept Paper. The committee will consist of three members of AGS faculty and two external evaluators. Committee members should be carefully selected for their ability to provide expert guidance in the field where your model will be applied professionally. All committee members must have a doctoral degree. 

Dissertation Writing: Once your Concept Paper has been approved, you may begin writing your dissertation.  Three terms of dissertation writing are expected during the dissertation writing process. This process may overlap other coursework.   Students can register for as many terms of supervision as they wish. Registration for these terms provides access to the Doctoral Committee and Committee Chair for consultation time online or by any other means (phone, email) each term.

You will schedule your three terms of supervised writing with the Chair of your Doctoral Committee. The preliminary Literature Review must be submitted during the first term of supervision. Survey instruments, interview or action research agenda, and questionnaires should be submitted for feedback, input, ethical review, etc. during your first or second term of supervision. These documents and the Literature Review should be basically complete by the second term. The final product must be submitted during the third term and all academic coursework must be completed prior to final submission.

The dissertation is intended to be defended before a live committee in Santa Barbara, California.  

Course Descriptions:
NOTE:  Overseas students may be asked to utilize a professional English editor for their written work.

Adizes Methodology: Leadership Tools for Managing Change –  The Adizes methodology is a proven, sustainable business management technology. In the first portion of this course, students will discuss why organizations tend to grow and age in predictable patterns. In the second module, we will explore various models of personality, work and communication styles. We will learn how to anticipate the quality of decisions others will make and how individuals communicate in styles via this model. Students will gain insight into what to do when individual decision quality needs to be improved, thereby increasing or decreasing the structure of participation within the organization. The third module will include the nature of constructive and destructive conflict; coalesced power, authority and influence; and the factors in both organizational and personal life that enhance or erode trust and respect. We will place special emphasis on the impact of organizational structure on behavior. Students have the option of taking the formal examination for Adizes Institute Certification in Phase 0 for credit in lieu of this course, or to Certify at the end of this course.

Epistemology – The Nature and Evolution of Knowledge: This course teaches the student to examine and question underlying assumptions with regard to what they believe they know. This course exposes participants to a full range of “ways of knowing” and the implications for organizational life. Both classical and contemporary theories of knowledge and its evolution are explored at the individual, cultural and societal levels. We will trace the roots of the modern western mind through the rationalist versus empiricist orientations to knowledge, the evolution of science and the rise of post-modernism. We will further examine the profound ways in which certain limited orientations to knowledge continue to pervade nearly every aspect of contemporary life. Informed by a deeper understanding of our own orientation to knowledge, we will examine the emerging phenomenon of the knowledge society and the unprecedented epistemological demands being placed on today’s managers together with the implications for contemporary management theory.

Models of Conflict – In this course we will examine the underlying assumptions and sources of conflict from both theoretical and practical perspectives. We will explore human and organizational development, social psychology, and group process literature to generate an understanding of contemporary views of conflict.  Through this exploration, students will establish more integrated, theoretically based practices of effectively coping with conflict. Students will also gain insight into how conflict can be used as a constructive force in organizational life.

Principles of Healing – The principles behind professional practice in terms of facilitating synergistic change and the health of an organizational system or client are explored in terms of Western, Eastern, and other traditional, alternative, complementary, and non-allopathic healing or therapeutic methods. Participants will explore the foundations of practitioner responsibility from individual and family practice as might be applied to organizational practice. They will also discuss ethical principles of professionalism such as helping clients to heal themselves, not developing dependencies, assuring that the client is as interested in the healing process as the consultant or therapist, confidentiality, responsibility with regard to other practitioners, competitors, and more.

Qualitative Research Methods -This seminar outlines the fundamental strategies of dissertation-level qualitative research and outlines the competencies necessary for such work. It offers an overview of qualitative approaches to research in the social sciences, including observational methods, grounded theory, and ethnographic methods, among others. This course also examines the role of theory and models in the research enterprise. Students are guided in the development of a concept paper focus and the selection of an appropriate methodology for qualitative social research.

In the course of conducting qualitative dissertation research, students will want to review other studies in the field which are relevant to their subject area. To understand prior studies, it may be useful to learn about Quantitative methods and Case Studies, though utilizing those methods for your own research is discouraged. We recommend doing your own independent exploration of these research methods outside of the School on your own time. 

Spiral Dynamics – is an evolutionary-based framework that constructs scaffolding for different theories of management, leadership, motivation, organizational design, communication, and social change. As such, this approach creates a framework for systems that are appropriate to the purposes of the organization.  Based on the original work of the late Professor Clare W. Graves, this conceptual system examines eight levels of human existence, describes the new language of memetics as a way of understanding the awakening and migration of ideas and life forms, and offers a closely woven companion track to thinking in sequences, cycles and lifecycles. The final exploration maps out specific strategies and tactics in the “meshing” of healthy systems. The course will examine the deep tributaries that produced this crossroads in development; analyze the research methodology that generated the theoretical statement; and will then move quickly into specific applications in the worlds of sustainable business, government, religion, education, politics, sports, media, and social transformation.  

System Life Cycles – This seminar examines life cycles at the level of individual, family, organization, and civilization. Life cycle and stage theories will be presented from the perspectives of human development, organizational studies, and the growing field of sociobiology. Classic analyses of civilizations will also add to participants’ understanding of life cycle phenomena. These theories and analyses will be applied to how behaviors and relationships in one context or development cycle interact with another.

Systems Thinking: Modeling Complexity -Systems thinking began, and remains, a multi-disciplinary field. It is first grounded in Cartesian thought in the West. Eastern thought, found in Buddhism, Hinduism, and other spiritual practices, inform us as well. Systems thinking is the process of examining organizations as complex living systems. It is a conceptual framework that identifies and defines shared realities which groups and organizations can use to understand and solve problems. As a foundation, and a practice, it has the potential to transform the ways in which we perceive, think, and make meaning.

Theories of Change and Development – This seminar focuses on theories of intra-personal, interpersonal, and organizational change, emphasizing systematic models of change processes in human systems and knowledge-intensive environments. Students will examine processes of change at the individual, group, and organizational levels.

Questions we will Explore in this Course

  • What are the major forces driving change in organizations today?
  • How and why do organizations tend to resist change? 
  • How can an individual contributor affect change within an organization? 
  • What competencies do leaders need to effectively lead change in contemporary organizations and how do these competencies differ from earlier times?
  • How have network technologies affected organizational structure and function?