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Dialogue in Educational Organizations: An Exploratory Study of Dialogue and Shared Vision



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The use of dialogue is theoretically proposed in educational literature and in documents produced by school divisions (Bohm, 1996; Mitchell & Sackney, 2001; Saskatchewan Ministry of Education, 2008; Shields & Edwards, 2005; Wheatley, 1999; Senge, 1990). Dialogical communication is increasingly being encouraged in response to the diversity and complexity of today’s school populations (Mitchell & Sackney, 2001; Shields & Edwards, 2005). Dialogue is the suggested mode of communication for constructivist practices in schools. Lacking in the literature is evidence from the field on how dialogue actually works in schools to enhance constructivist ways of doing to produce shared vision. This exploratory study was an investigation into PLC members’ understandings of dialogue as a process for building shared vision. Instrumental case study was used to gather members’ understandings. Data were collected from members of two separate professional learning communities using observations, focus groups, and interviews. A thematic analysis of the data revealed that along with what is already known about dialogue are five catalytic components participants used to create and sustain dialogic communication: (a) Building shared vision requires dialogue to meld perspectives and acknowledge group member emergent roles, (b) Dialogue provides access to others’ ideas; enhancing learning through developing broad perspectives and modifying thinking, (c) Mindsets enhancing dialogue are: desire for commonality, cohesion, and consistency; keen attention to what others need; a desire to function as professionals; and ownership over practice, (d) Two conditions enhancing dialogue are: systemic support and measurable outcomes, and (e) A highly developed commitment to students enhances dialogical communication in schools. The study’s findings add to existing theory and provide implications for policy and practice. Policy makers, leaders, and educators wishing to enhance dialogical communication in schools need to employ, and provide opportunity for others to employ, these catalytic components deliberately and explicitly. Deliberate and explicit use of these five components would aid in enhancing dialogic communication in schools.



Dialogue, education, leadership, educational administration, educational philosophy, communication, shared vision



Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


Educational Administration


Educational Administration


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