Engaging Change

Andrew H. Van de Ven
Living reference work entry

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Andrew Van de Ven’s approach to studying change in organizational systems has been to engage it head-on. Over his career, he has developed multiple programs of research that begin with a practical problem and end with practical solutions. In these engagements, he has acted in a scholarly way, creating novel and rigorous theory and methods, to help move from problem to solution and to share the learning and knowledge with others. Van de Ven’s method of engaged scholarship has created a legacy of work in the areas of group decision-making, program planning, organizational assessment and design, and innovation and organizational change.

Van de Ven’s most lasting and widely adopted innovation is the Nominal Group Technique, which aids groups of stakeholders in having an equal voice during difficult decision-making contexts. A Google search on the term elicits hundreds of thousands of hits, and the papers and book associated with it have over 5000 academic citations. Van de Ven’s experiences in developing the Nominal Group Technique led to a more general curiosity about how social organizations change, particularly in the context of innovation and institutional level change. Van de Ven’s theories derive from using dialectics and paradox to explore theoretic tensions, and his methods emphasize the temporal and complex nature of organizational change.

Van de Ven’s legacy on scholarship has also been impacted by the academic leadership positions he has occupied in the Academy of Management, from president to journal editor. His ability to make theoretical and methodological contributions as a scholar, while also helping to solve big, practical problems that businesses have, has been an inspiration to numerous other business researchers.


Organizational change Innovation New product development Engaged scholarship Nominal group technique 


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Further Reading

  1. Two excellent biographies of Van de Ven’s contributions to innovation theory have recently been published (Glee-Vermande 2016; Zahra 2016). Van de Ven and colleagues maintain a website dedicated to process research methods (, and several of Van de Ven’s papers and books can be found in complete versions online (

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Supply Chain ManagementArizona State UniversityTempeUSA

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