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Forms of Decision Making in CISV: Are we living up to our participative ideals?

This article analyses meetings of staff, leaders and JCs during a CISV Village programme during which they plan educational activities. The author looks closely at conversations among staff, leaders and JCs and asks how each type of participant positions themselves in discussions and how they reach at decisions together. The author observes that

in CISV organizational culture, during meetings, decisions should be taken through coordination among participants, and decision making should be highly participative. 

Staff take on the role of the chair of meetings, and following CISV organizational culture they should facilitate group participation and participatory decision making, rather than act as “the boss” and simply decide and tell the leaders and JC what to do. This is different from e.g. business meetings where organizational hierarchy is clear to and expected by all of the people involved. 

The study reveals that organizational hierarchy does, however, play an important role in decision making in the meetings. Nevertheless, the study also reports dialogic facilitation which leads to participative decision making in meetings. In sum, the article finds that CISV’s organizational culture is sometimes contradicted (hierarchical decision making) and at other times adhered to – despite time pressure, and showing that dialogic facilitation can enhance the achievement of tasks. 

The consequences of decision making based on hierarchy include a lack of compliance of leaders and JCS with the decisions, dissatisfaction, and resistance, and discouraging individual to take personal responsibility. The author proposes what he calls facilitation as dialogic coordination which enables cooperation in a non-hierarchical manner and promotes personal expression. Staff can achieve dialogic coordination by various techniques during meetings, such as 

(a) Requesting and providing explanations and clarifications, 

(b) Giving successful support, 

(c) Checking and achieving understanding, 

(d) Showing understanding and involvement through feedback channelling, 

(e) Appreciating and commenting positively, 

(f) Suggesting and adding successful proposals, and 

(g) Including objections as positive contributions. 

So, programme staff - let’s try this out! Who wants to be a boss that nobody really listens to? Much better facilitating dialogue in a team and getting things done! 

 

This is a summary of the journal article: Baraldi, Claudio (2013) Forms of Decision Making: Gatekeeping and Dialogic Coordination in CISV Organizational Meetings. International Journal of Business Communication, 50 (4) pages 339-361. Available online at: http://job.sagepub.com/content/50/4/339.abstract

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