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Contours and Consequences

December 2, 2012

By: Monica Worline, Jane Dutton, and members of Compassion Lab

In this paper, we use a combination of narrative and survey methods to explore the contours and consequences of compassion at work. Stories of compassion at work provide testimony to its power in cultivating positive identification with the workplace and with one’s co-workers.


Transcending “Normal”: Learning to Access the Power of Positive Organizing

November 28, 2012

By: Robert E. Quinn

Highly functioning organizations are different from other organizations. They engage in a process called positive organizing. Positive organizing transcends normal assumptions. To understand it, internalize it, and practice it, people need someone who can elevate their feelings, thoughts, and actions so that they can collaborate in new ways. Here is a story that illustrates what positive organizing is, how it is facilitated, and how it can be taught.


A Passion for Hope – Visiting Scholar Oana Branzei

August 21, 2012

By Janet Max

Oana Branzei is an associate professor at the Richard Ivey School of Business at the University of Western Ontario. She is Visiting Scholar at the Center for POS for the 2012-13 academic year.

The Center’s new visiting scholar, Oana Branzei, is passionate about the overarching theme of the positive function of business in society, and is drawn to learning about what people in extreme situations think that business can do for them. “They see business as almost a salvation. Often, they learn to imagine the future through the business itself,” she notes. “It’s really hard for someone who has been marginalized or traumatized to imagine a better life. Hope is an essential part of lifting them up.” Oana focuses on the dynamics of hope: dreams of better lives, and actions needed to achieve them. Her field work in areas such as Kenya, Tanzania, Sudan, Rwanda, Uganda, Peru, and Bangladesh documents the incidence and resilience of enterprise under extreme scarcity, adversity, and conflict. Oana also researches the emergence and evolution of pro-poor business models in North America, Asia, and Latin America.


Hope in Hopeless Settings

August 21, 2012

By Oana Branzei, Western University

Poverty. Conflict. Draught. Death. Hunger. Domestic Violence.

Not giving up.

Understanding how one summons and sustains hope in the face of scarcity and adversity stretches the straightjacket of organizational theories to make room for understanding life at its extremes—and reconnects us to the people living full and inspiring lives despite overcoming significant hurdles, every day.


Teaching Leadership in a Relational Context: Using Action Learning Teams and Projects

August 21, 2012

By Kathy E. Kram, Boston University

About five years ago, I began using relational learning as a centerpiece for the infrastructure of “The Leadership Challenge,” an MBA elective I teach at the Boston University School of Management. In a significant change last fall, we introduced Action Learning Teams and Action Learning Projects, in which students would be expected to practice specific leadership behaviors and attitudes that they identified through the 360 assessment that they completed at the outset of the course. My collaborator in this was Jeffrey Yip, who is an advanced doctoral student in Organizational Behavior, and formerly worked at CCL (Center for Creative Leadership). He was instrumental in the design and implementation first time around.


In relational learning environments, students and instructors collaborate to learn and share knowledge. “The Leadership Challenge” is designed to include cognitive, emotional, and relational learning opportunities that together enable students to build new leadership capabilities.


Inaugural Meeting of the Newly-Invigorated PRW Microcommunity

August 21, 2012

By Elana Feldman (Boston University), Kathy Kram (Boston University), Emily Heaphy (Boston University), and Stephanie Creary (Boston College)

What happens when a group of scholars interested in positive relationships at work meet in one place? They forge new connections, rejoice in old friendships, help each other tackle current challenges, and plant the seeds for future collaborations. And this was indeed the case in March, when approximately 30 researchers gathered in Ashland, Massachusetts, for the launch of the newly invigorated Positive Relationships at Work (PRW) Microcommunity.


Building on the Positive When Faced With the Negative

August 6, 2012

We are all familiar with the principle that leaders should emphasize the positive, build on strengths, and focus on abundance rather than deficits. We know that providing positive feedback is likely to produce higher productivity and higher engagement that criticism and negative evaluations. Ten years of research in the University of Michigan’s Center for Positive Organizational Scholarship has produced study after study confirming the importance of adopting a positive perspective and implementing positive practices in organizations, teams, and interpersonal relationships. Individuals, teams, and organizations do far better in a positive environment than in a negative, critical, or punishing environment.