The Dialogical Academy is aimed at the following applications: identity, leadership, career, culture and health.
Changes in our society reflect changes in individual identity. The more complex society becomes, the more complex our identities. These changes mean that the multi-voicedness of the individual increases. The increasing wealth of voices or “I positions” in the self creates increased insecurity for the individual. We apply our methodologies to research the multi-voicedness of one’s personal identity and to stimulate this self to better respond to the increasing complexity. The next questions are central to this process: which voices play a role in the situation where an individual finds him/herself and what is the nature of the insecurity that plays a role here? In our view the insecurity is not only seen as a factor that can block identity but can also make it fruitful and be a source of new perspectives. For a detailed reflection on the relationship between identity, globalization and insecurity see this article.
Leadership is one of the prominent foci of the Academy. Here the premise is that leadership helps people to lead others better by better leading themselves. The way in which leaders position themselves towards their colleagues is fed by the I-positions and voices they have and develop in themselves. This demands a broad position-repertoire that allows the leader to move flexibly from one position to the other in a variety of situations. The complexity of current organizations demands of leaders that they able to position themselves as entrepreneurs (providing direction for an organization), as managers (getting things done), as coaches (supporting others in their development), experts (providing knowledge and skills with regards to the profession) and as ‘change leaders’ (providing leadership with regards to changes in in the organization and in the culture of the company). These positions can create tensions as they come with different behavioral patterns, which can lead to role confusion. Clarity in order to distinguish between the roles and the ability to take on the right position at the right moment is essential. The dialogical relationships between the various positions are important too as they can learn from each other. The Academy applies its methods in researching dialogical leadership and in stimulating it as well. For more detailed information about the nature of dialogical leadership, see this article.
The labour market of the 21st century is characterized by increasing complexity, individualization, and insecurity. That is why there is a growing interest in narrative and dialogical way in which to respond to the demands that are made on individuals. The linear career path has been replaced by the figure of the ‘flexible Scottish dancer’. The desire or necessity to make various career changes in a lifetime demands a position repertoire that is broad and flexible enough to adequately respond to this altered reality. In addition employers are no longer a safe have for workers. This means that in order to succeed people are dependent upon their own powers, abilities and social relationships to navigate the fluctuating labour market. In light of this, the Academy chooses career research and career development as focus points for its application plans. We apply our methods to promote reflection and the internal dialogue about career with as a goal to improve self-direction in order to determine one’s ‘right’ direction. For an illustration of this approach see the following article.
In our globalization work, people are confronted with an enormous cultural diversity in the worlds in which they live. More and more people come into contact with a diversity of cultures that have different, even opposing, cultural values. The number of technological, economic, ecological and social points of reference between cultures has increased dramatically in the last decades. The presence of this diverse reality becomes apparent by the mere fact that at the moment two-thirds of the world’s population speak two or more languages. Managers and leaders frequently have too little understanding of diversity in their repertoire to adequately respond to the new situation. Therefore the Academy also focuses on the stimulation of culture multi-voicedness and dialogical relationships between the various cultural I-positions within the self. For a way in which to explore and stimulate multi-voicedness see this article. For the placement of an individual’s development of the dialogical self in the context of globalization see chapter 3 about cultural identity and individual development in the context of globalizing in the Oxford Handbook of Individual Development and Culture (2015).
The fostering of psycho-social health can only happen if the position of the individual within the broader context of society is taken into account. This means that it’s necessary to study the deeply woven interrelationship between people and society. This is why the Academy has formulated the goal of developing applications that can uncover and make clear these relationships in methodical ways. One of the central assumptions is that the other (as representative of society) is not only ‘outside’ oneself but also makes up an intrinsic part of that. The other-in-the-self (e.g. my father, my inspiring teacher, my opponent) is inseparable from the individual self of a person. This is why we have developed methods and practices that assume that the self is a ‘mini-society’ of I-positions that in turn makes up part of the broader society. As an example of a counselling process in which the dialogical self is analyzed as a mini-society and is brought to further development see this article.