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Page history last edited by Mark 8 years, 3 months ago

Welcome to Valence Theory

This is the final draft of Mark Federman's doctoral thesis, From BAH to ba: Valence Theory and the Future of Organization.


The thesis is structured in three parts. Ground (the invisible context) provides the historical and methodological grounding for the rest of the work. Figure (that which is seen) provides the findings, the stories and analyses of the five participant organizations, with a summary of the distinctions between the two organization types, BAH and UCaPP. Meaning (the interplay of figure and ground) provides the Zen-philosophical basis for basho (the underpinning of UCaPP organizations), and derives Valence Theory as a unifying and explanatory theory of organization.


You are welcome to read as much or as little as you like, and in any order that suits you. Your comments and thoughts are greatly appreciated.


 I did a public thesis defence on March 24, 2010 at OISE. The video of the presentation is here.

 I defended the thesis on June 11, 2010, and passed "as is" - the highest ranking. The external examiner's comments are posted here. 

The officially registered, downloadable thesis (PDF format) on University of Toronto's T-Space is here. A more printer-friendly version (not double-spaced, hence fewer pages if you really want to print it) is downloadable here. 


What Valence Theory is About

In a nutshell, here is a very brief synopsis of "the good stuff": BAH is an acronym representing Bureaucratic, Administratively controlled, and Hierarchical organizations, essentially the Industrial Age model. UCaPP describes contemporary conditions of being Ubiquitously Connected and Pervasively Proximate. Organizations are rarely, if ever entirely BAH or entirely UCaPP, but tend to have tendencies and behaviours that are more consistent with one or the other end of a spectrum delineated by these two polarities. Valence Theory of Organization defines organization as being an emergent entity whose members (individuals or organizations) are connected via two or more of five valence (meaning uniting, bonding, interacting, reacting, combining) relationships. Each of these relationships – Economic, Socio-psychological, Identity, Knowledge, and Ecological – have a fungible (mercantile or tradable) aspect, and a ba-aspect, the latter creating a space-and-place of common, tacit understanding of self-identification-in-relation, mutual sense of purpose, and volition to action. Organizations with more-BAH tendencies will emphasize the fungible valence forms, and primarily tend to focus on Economic valence; more-UCaPP organizations tend to emphasize ba-valence forms, and are more balanced among the relative valence strengths.


Essentially, my research finds that BAH-organizations (that is, organizations that primarily enact and value BAH-like attitudes, behaviours, and characteristics) replace the complexity of human dynamics in social systems with the complication of machine-analogous procedures that enable individual independence, responsibility, and accountability. In contrast, UCaPP-organizations encourage and enable processes of continual emergence by valuing and promoting complex interactions even though doing so necessitates ceding legitimated control in an environment of individual autonomy and agency, collective responsibility, and mutual accountability. The consequential differences in how each type of organization operates day-to-day are like comparing the societies of Ancient Greece, the medieval Church, the Industrial Age, and today's contemporary reality of Ubiquitous Connectivity and Pervasive Proximity.


About this Thesis Site

Each wiki page will contain chapter sections for reasonable reading. The pages linked below lead to the first section of each respective chapter. Additionally, a PDF file of the chapter will be available for download from the first page of the chapter should you choose to read offline. (Note: this means that no PDF link will appear on the pages with secondary chapter sections - the entire chapter will download from the first chapter page link.)


Creative Commons License
From BAH to ba: Valence theory and the future of organization by Mark Federman is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.5 Canada License. For inquiries about any other uses of this material, please contact Mark Federman directly.


Connect with Mark Federman

Mark writes about applications of Valence Theory to organizations and leadership on his weblog, What is the Next Message?

Follow Mark on Twitter or Connect on LinkedIn.

Mark Federman's vCard



From BAH to ba: Valence theory and the future of organization

PDF of complete thesis



Table of Contents

Abstract  PDF

Acknowledgements  PDF

Preface: Experiencing the Process of Thesis  PDF


Part I: Ground - The Invisible Context

A Conversation with Nishida: The Obvious   PDF

A Brief, 3,000-year History of Organization   PDF


A Conversation with Nishida: The Question   PDF

Understanding Reality's Production: On methodology and method   PDF


Part II: Figure - That Which is Seen

A Conversation with Nishida: The Mountain  PDF

Pluperfect Tensions: Organizations M and A  PDF


A Conversation with Nishida: The Destination  PDF

Present Transitions: Organizations F and Unit 7  PDF


A Conversation with Nishida: The Future  PDF

Future Imperfect: Inter Pares and, The Natures of Organization  PDF


Part III: Meaning - The Interplay of Figure and Ground

A Conversation with Nishida: The Place  PDF  [Note: This is a critical Nishida chapter to understand the foundation of Valence Theory]

Introducing Valence Theory  PDF


A Conversation with Nishida: The Fruit  PDF

Contextualizing Valence Theory  PDF


A Conversation with Nishida: The Letter  PDF

The Road to Here, The Road From Here  PDF


A Conversation with Nishida: The Beginning  PDF


References  PDF

Appendices  PDF



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