Shaping the Culture, Attitudes, and Changes through the Nuances of Story Telling, Appreciative Inquiry and Inclusive Change Management Approaches

Emad Rahim, Walden University
Darrell Norman Burrell, Virginia International University


This study sought to identify the origin and use of the label “ghetto” by clients and employees in four community centers in Syracuse, New York that serve clientele of low socioeconomic status. The term ghetto is widely associated with unethical or unprofessional behavior, thereby undermining the validity and sustainability of any organization thus labeled. The study examined internal production and perpetuation of the labeling trend; and the negative effects of social stereotyping on services provided to city clientele. Results from the study aimed to help community agencies target unearned negative labels from their point of origin and develop programmatic and policy reforms to mitigate these unwanted behaviors. The presentation will expand previous research concerned with the effect that labeling an organization as “ghetto” has on the staff, management, and clients of the organization. Prior research examined four community centers in Syracuse, New York, and found that organizations labeled as “ghetto” tend to take on the attributes of that stigmatization. The presentation will discuss the effects of such labeling on community centers in the city of Syracuse. Data will was gathered by interviews, questionnaires, and direct observation. Stories were shared in co-operative inquiry groups and during the individual interviews with agency administrators relating to the “ghetto” stigma. As a result of the surge in research on labeling and stigmas in recent decades, there has been an increase in knowledge of the ways in, which people construct cognitive categories and link them to stereotypes and beliefs. These theories will serve as the theoretical framework guiding the examination in the presentation. Labeling a community center with the word “ghetto,” or another racially-charged adjective, even if self-imposed by staff, can have implications for both understanding core issues in management and for the future of the organization as there is a reciprocal relationship between agencies and the communities in which they live. The seminal works of Co-operative Inquiry and Appreciative Inquiry as a change management technique as well as principles guided the investigation from Postmodern Management theory. This presentation outlines how storytelling can be an effective tool in participatory management, knowledge sharing, knowledge transfer, collaboration, and change management. The goal of this paper and presentation is to show how story telling and knowledge sharing are critical aspects of effective change management organizational approaches.