Webpage Supplement to

Chapter 13: Applied Drama in Business

Compiled by Adam Blatner

June 1, 2007

Most Relevant Websites:

Noted in the Chapter: The Ariel Group (www.arielgroup.com)  Founded in 1992, The Ariel Group specializes in training organizational leaders in communication skills and relationship building. At the heart of the Ariel Group’s work is the concept of “leadership presence,” defined as “the ability to connect authentically with the thoughts and feelings of others, in order to motivate them to a desired outcome” (Halpern & Lubar, 2003).

Noted in the Chapter: Dramatic Diversity Company: www.dramaticdiversity.com   Dramatic Diversity, based in Chicago, has been using action-oriented, unscripted theatre since 2001 in corporate settings, in a management consultancy process that begins with assessment, followed by program design, service delivery and outcome evaluation.

A professional association: www.appliedimprov.net   – This community of those applying improvisation in business has conferences and an online discussion group.

Atieno Fisher offers business consultations and describes the use of role playing, role training, and action techniques on her paper at : http://usoni.com/documents/Simulationarticlefinal.pdf

Further History:

In 1942 Henry Murray of Harvard University was asked to develop and execute an assessment for the Office of Strategic Services (OSS). The purpose of this program was to carry out special missions during World War II. The OSS wanted a set of tools that would be uniquely sensitive to the various demands of a special intelligence unit. Under Murray’s leadership, a team of psychologists developed a battery of tests that would recreate stressful situations and provide evaluative opportunities to the observers. One of the subtests in this battery was entitled, “Improvisations.” In this subtest a series of one hundred and eleven scripts were written that involved quandaries of leadership. An individual would be asked, in role, to make decisions that would reflect on their overall management abilities. Observers would make notes about the various leadership styles and the interpersonal relationships that were observed. (Murray & Stein, 1943; McReynolds and DeVoge, 1977).
McReynolds, P., and DeVoge, S., (1977). Use of improvisational techniques in assessment. In P. McReynolds (Ed). Advances in psychological assessment, V. 4 (222-277). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Murray, H. & Stein, M. I. (1943). Note on the selection of Combat Officers. Psychosomatic Medicine, 5, 386-391.

Item: The president of Improv Aslyum said in an interview for the Boston Herald, “Today, its (corporate training) is one of the fastest growing arms of our industry.” Corporations in the past year spent $13.6 billion in training, up 32% from last year? Across industries, training budgets are rising. Training, a 65,000-circulation trade monthly published by Minneapolis-based Lakewood Publications, Inc., estimates that U.S. companies with 100 or more employees budgeted $58.6 billion for training in 1997, a 5 percent increase over 1996--and an all-time high in the last 15 years. In the 2002, the report notes, the market for training-related goods and services rose 32 percent, to $13.6 billion. No statistics are available on how much of that training dollar actually is diverted to consultancy firms that use role playing as a primary training tool however the vast majority of these firms incorporate some degree of role play into their training approaches leading one to conclude that a substantial amount of the dollars spent in training involves some kind of role-play or unscripted theatre.

The use of role-play as a way of training individuals for making executive decisions is by no means a new practice. This self-presentation or role is discussed at length in Erving Goffman’s (1959) book the Presentation of Self in Everyday Life. According to Goffman people engage in two kinds of communication, “expressions given and expressions given off.” It is the communications given off that constitute impressions that are presented by an individual. These impressions become social roles or parts that are performed based on the environmental context. This can therefore be constructed that the roles that are played are in fact the sum of the contextual parts (Goffman, 1959). Self therefore is a dramatic effect drawn from the scene that is presented. According to Goffman (1959), “all the world is not, of course, a stage, but the crucial ways in which it isn’t are not easy to specify.” (p. 72).
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Once a company has recognized that they are in need of specialized training in the area of diversity, a team of industrial organizational psychologists will conduct a thorough assessment or what is typically called an “environmental assessment.” The purpose of this assessment is to clarify and amplify the goals, needs and challenges that the company faces. The assessment process can take several days or several weeks depending on the size of the company and/or the complexity of the stated problem. The assessment team will begin by interviewing top executives. At this level of inquiry the team is seeking to identify the core problem and identify who within the company has the necessary influence to make changes. After the problem has been clarified the assessment team will begin interviewing employees at all levels. During this phase of the assessment the team is looking for root metaphors and narratives.

Further References on Role Playing in Industry, Business, and Organizational Development

(many of these are from: Blatner, A. (1996).  Applications in Business. In: Acting-In: Practical applications of psychodramatic methods. New York: Springer.  Blatner’s practical guide contains numerous references to the applications of psychodrama in business.)

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http://www.tonisant.com/aitg/Training_and_Development/ The Applied & Interactive Theater Guide contains a representative listing of books, organizations, and other resources in the use of theater in corporate training.

www.appliedimprov.net This is an organization of theatre artists who are applying drama in business, have conferences, an online discussion group–a major resource for follow-up.

Brewer, U. (1993). Using the role reversal technique in an industrial setting. Journal of Group Psychotherapy, Psychodrama & Sociometry, 46(2), 73-74.

Eitington, J. E. (1989). Role playing. In The Winning Trainer (2nd Ed.) (pp. 67-93). Houston: Gulf Publishing.
Goffman, E. (1959). The presentation of self in everyday life. New York: Doubleday.

Greenberg J., & Eskew D. E. (1993). The role of role playing in organizational research. Journal of Management, 19(2), 221-241.

Hoffman, C. C., Wilcox, L., Gomez, E., & Hollander, C. (1992). Sociometric applications in a corporate environment. Journal of Group Psychotherapy, Psychodrama & Sociometry, 45(1), 3-16.

Koonce, R. (2001). Redefining diversity; It’s not just the right thing to do. It also makes good business sense. Training and Development, 12/1/01.

Lippitt, R., & Hubbell, A. (1956). Role playing for personnel and guidance workers: Review of the literature. Group Psychotherapy, 9(2), 89-114.

Lockwood, N. (2003). Diversity and Emotion: The new frontiers in organizational behavior research. Society for Human Resource Management, May 2003.

Shaw, M. E., Corsini, R., Blake, R., & Mouton, J. (1980). Role playing: A practical manual for group facilitators. San Diego, CA: University Associates. Excellent bibliography, oriented mainly to business and organizational audiences. This is a reworking of the 1961 edition entitled Role-playing in Business and Industry, with Corsini as the first author.

Swink, D. F. (1993). Role-play your way to learning. Training and Development, 47(5), 91-97.

Symonds, P. M. (1947). Role playing as a diagnostic procedure in the selection of leaders. Sociatry, 1, 43-50.

Torrance, E. P., & Wright, J. A. (1987). Sociometric audience technique as a device for maximizing creativity in problem solving in large groups. The Creative Child and Adult Quarterly, 12(3), 147-151.

Wohlking, W., & Weiner, H. (1971). Structured and spontaneous role playing: Contrast and comparison. In W. Wohlking (Ed.), Role playing: Its application in management development (pp. 1-11). New York: Cornell University Press.

Woltzer, P. (2001). Ethics as a value added service. CPA Journal, 1/1/2001