Modifying the Stories We Tell: Discourse as Racial Justice Capacity Building in the Helping Professions


Leadership, Management & Business

Document Type

Book Chapter

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Following increased attention to issues of racial injustice, institutions have become aware of the profound need to identify and dismantle racism in their organizations. However, few organizations are prepared to do this work. This chapter outlines a framework for organizational transformation that centers generative dialogue as a means to advance racial justice. As Heifetz, et al., (2009) insist, to diagnose an adaptive challenge “requires a modification of the stories [organizations] have been telling themselves.” The framework integrates Mitchell and Sackney’s (2011) dimensions of capacity building and Bridges Patrick’s (2020) capacities for fruitful racial dialogue. Discourse, by nature, surfaces stories and provides an opportunity to challenge the stories organizations have been telling, and thus, identifying the ways racial dominance is operating.


Published as a chapter of Rasmussen, H.T. (2021). Adaptive Leadership in a Global Economy: Perspectives for Application and Scholarship (M. Raei, Ed.) (1st ed.). Routledge. https://doi-org.antioch.idm.oclc.org/10.4324/9781003099109