Research Reports and Theory Development

To read a specific article or essay, click on its link below...

How Practitioners Use CMM

Romi Goldsmith, Lise Hababi, and Ayumi Niishi wrote this report of a study of people who use CMM in their practice. Among their finding: CMM helps them make better social worlds (it works!); using CMM makes them better people; they usually don't name CMM in their work; they feel isolated as CMM practitioners; they want more peer-to-peer learning opportunities; and they feel that the nascent CMM community of practice needs to stop depending on the founders and develop new leadership.

CMM and the Evolution of Social Consciousness

Kim Pearce integrates the literatures of multiple intelligences, adult development, and CMM, producing a provocative claim about CMM's role in promoting the evolution of personal and social consciousness. These claims are tested and illustrated by showing how the tragic events of 9/11 were and might have been responded to by people of different levels of development.

Communication, Action and Meaning: The Creation of Social Realities.

This was the first CMM-based book, published in 1980. It describes itself as the end of the first phase of the CMM project. CMM has evolved considerably in the intervening years, but there is still some good stuff here, including reports of studies that laid the basis for our understanding of how communication works.

Doing Systemic Training Systemically: Evaluating, Responding, Expanding

This paper reflects on the paradox of "training" people to work systemically, which calls for spontaneous, creative actions. After some conceptual gnawing at the paradox, an extended case study is shown of one attempt to live with it. This training program featured a highly reflective progression of relationships between trainers and trainees filled with examples of relational responsibility and consistent with systemic practice principles.

Communication and Social Construction: Claiming our Birthright

This is a high-spirited introduction to social constructionism, with specific attention to its connection to communication (both the process and the academic discipline). It was originally presented at a conference co-sponsored by the Crooked Timber Project and the National Communication Association in Albuquerque, August 2006, and published Gloria Galanes & Wendy Leeds-Hurwitz, Socially Constructing Communication (2009).

The Enactment of Fear in Conversations-Gone-Bad at Work

This is a dissertation by Paige Marrs, placed here with her permission. The study describes an innovative use of CMM concepts and an integration of communication theory and emotions.

Toward a New Repertoire of Communication Skills for Leaders and Managers

This is a filecopy of an article exporing the implications of taking "a communication perspective." If we change our understanding of how communication works and of what work it does, then we should develop a new canon of communication skills. This paper begins that work; there is much more to do.

Doing Research in Our Right Minds

This is the English filecopy of a chapter in a book on research methods published in Colombia. In it, I explore the effects of using CMM's heuristics on the mind (and the brain) of the user, arguing that these effects are salutory for those doing research.  

On Using CMM in Consulting

This unpublished paper has been used in workshops for consultants. Among other things, it shows some ways of using CMM's heuristic concepts and models.

Transcendent Storytelling: Abilities for Systemic Practitioners and their Clients

Systemic practice is often described as joining with clients to co-construct new stories. While novelty might be the primary desired characteristic, systemic practitioners have principled preferences for certain kinds of stories. However, these preferences are usually expressed in terms of the content of the new stories. We propose exploring the differences among forms of storytelling. Are some forms of storytelling systemically preferable ways to hear, tell, and live stories? The LUUUTT Model is introduced as a heuristic for joining the grammar of a client; one distinctive feature of this model is the centrality it gives to storytelling. Two stories -- that of the development of CMM and of the strange, evolving relationship between Kim Phuc and John Plummer -- illustrate four forms of storytelling that we call literalist, symbolic, social constructionist, and transcendent. Transcendent storytelling requires of and confers upon the storyteller a distinctive set of abilities that are consonant with the systemic perspective. This paper calls for an attention to storytelling as part of the work of systemic practitioners, offers some analytical distinctions among these four types of storytelling, and identifies some limits of "social constructionist" storytelling for systemic practice. Finally, we suggest that helping our clients acquire the abilities for transcendent storytelling increases their capacities to co-construct more complex, rich, and productive social worlds. We invite correspondence with others who are working with forms of storytelling.

Combining Passion and Abilities: Toward Dialogic Virtuosity

Beginning with a reflection on a comment made by a participant in a community dialogue meeting, this paper explored some differences among the ways various people conceptualize "dialogue" and identified some of the skills involved in engaging in and facilitating dialogic communication.

Extending the theory of the Coordinated Management of Meaning (CMM) through a community dialogue process

This paper completes the loop between theory and practice. CMM guided the Public Dialogue Consortium's work in a community dialogue process. In this paper, we reflect on that process as it tested and extended the theory.

Doing Research from the Perspective of the Coordinated Management of Meaning

This unpublished paper describes two ways in which CMM can be used in research. Some researchers "frame" their projects within the concepts and perspectives of CMM; others simply use some of CMM's concepts and models in service to research projects framed by other perspectives. The purpose of this paper is to help researchers use what CMM has to offer; it suggests a sequence of four steps: descriptive, interpretive, critical and practical.

The Coordinated Management of Meaning

From Theorizing Communication and Culture. William Gudykunst (Ed.).

This chapter introduces CMM by using some of its concepts and models in an analysis of two communication events. This file is a 147k .pdf file. You will need Acrobat Reader to view it.

Using CMM

My private title for this document is "CMM without tears." It is intended for practitioners who want to explore what CMM might offer them in their work. This file is a 400k .pdf file. You will need Acrobat Reader to view it.

CMM: Reports from Users

The value of CMM lies in the uses to which it is put. This paper assembles self-descriptions of how a people are using CMM in a variety of contexts, including management, consulting, therapy, and education. This file is a 464k .pdf file. You will need Acrobat Reader to view it.

Taking a Communication Perspective On Dialogue

Published in Dialogue: Theorizing about Difference. Ken Cissna and Ron Anderson (Eds.)

The "communication perspective" consists of looking at communication, not just through it to other things that are thought to be more real. The form of communication, we believe, is material. In this chapter, we use the CMM concepts of coordination, coherence, and mystery to explore the particular form of communication called "dialogue."

The Conversational Frame in Public Address

Branham, R. J. & Pearce, W. B. (1996), "The Conversational Frame in Public Address," Communication Quarterly, 44: 423-439.

Framing public address as a conversation is a rhetorical strategy that positions the speaker and audience in a moral order of rights, duties, and expectations. The essay compares and contrasts a number of public speeches that framed the audience in different ways.

A Dialectical View of Personal Change

Vernon E. Cronen, W. Barnett Pearce, and Carl Tomm (1985), "A Dialectical View of Personal Change," pp 203-224 in Kenneth J. Gergen and Keith E. Davis, eds., The Social Construction of the Person. New York: Springer-Verlag.

After showing that the events and objects of the social world are "constructed" in interaction, what else can a theory do? One challenge is to account for change in these events and objects. An unusual case of family therapy is analyzed using concepts from CMM.