If you've been around the Benedictine University Organization Development (OD) program for any length of time, you have no doubt met Dr. Peter Sorensen and Dr. Therese Yaeger. My first exposure to this dynamic duo came more than a decade ago when I flew to Chicago to do my face-to-face interview as part of the application process for the Ph.D. program. I met with Peter and Therese for well over an hour on that day, and must say my life has never been the same since. Not only because they were gracious enough to let me into the program, but because of what they taught me about OD and about being a scholar.
When you first meet Peter and Therese their humility and down to earth demeanor belie the contribution they are making to the OD world, and their drive in how OD makes a contribution to the world. A quick look at their faculty biographies on the Benedictine website quickly reveals their involvement in the field, and the awards they have both won as a result. They are regular speakers at the International Society for Organizational Development, as well as contributors to smaller organizations such as the Midwest Academy of Management and the Southwest Academy of Management. To really get a feel for their contribution, however, we have to look at the level of scholarship they have produced. A search on either ones name on Amazon results in pages of books. A quick run through Google scholar for their peer reviewed journal articles produces even more impressive results.
Some of their more interesting contributions have been not only what they have written themselves, but their ability to bring together other scholars in a way that provides a diverse perspective regarding OD and its place in our ever changing world. Their text Global And International Organization Development is now on its 5th edition and looks at how OD can impact the world from not only the local perspective, but also the national and international perspective (2011). It creates a framework that we as OD practitioners are obligated to provide social benefit not just in our own organizations but in the world as a whole. More importantly, it is not just their individual perspectives but the views of a whole host of thinkers in the field of OD that add a critical diversity to the discussion. This is similar to their text Strategic Organization Development (2009), which is part of their Contemporary Trends in Organization Development and Change series, and provides a variety of perspectives on how OD can take its place as a driver of business success. So if we had to really define what Drs. Sorensen and Yaeger contribute, beyond their leadership of the Benedictine OD program, that contribution could be defined simply as community. Which is of course a large part of what OD really is all about.
Sorensen, P.F., Yaeger, T. Head, T. C. & Cooperrider, D. eds. (2001). Global and international organization development, 5th ed. Champaign, IL: Stipes Publishing LLC.
Yaeger, T. F. & Sorensen, P.F. eds. (2009). Strategic organization development: Managing change for success. Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing, Inc.
Learn More About Peter Sorensen, Ph.D. and Therese Yaeger, Ph.D.
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About the Author
Jimmy Brown, Ph.D. is a senior level management consultant with eighteen years of experience leading efforts to develop and implement practical strategies for business performance improvement. Dr. Brown has held senior level consulting positions at leading firms such as Booz-Allen & Hamilton, Accenture and Hewlett-Packard.