The role of transformative thinking and practice in a property entrepreneur's response to the funding crisis since 2008

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McCarthy, Thomas John
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University College Cork
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This portfolio of exploration explores the role of transformative thinking and practice in a property entrepreneur’s response to the financial crisis which swept over Ireland from 2008. The complexity of this challenge and the mental capacity to meet its demands is at the core of the exploration. This inquiry emerged from the challenges the financial crisis presented to my values, beliefs, assumptions, and theories, i.e. the interpretive lens through which I make meaning of my experiences. Given the issue identified, this inquiry is grounded in aspects of theories of constructive developmental psychology, applied developmental science, and philosophy. Integrating and linking these elements to business practice is the applied element of the Portfolio. As the 2008 crisis unfolded I realised I was at the limits of my way of knowing. I came to understand that the underlying structure of a way of knowing is the ‘subject-object relationship’ i.e. what a way of knowing can reflect upon, look at, have perspective on, in other words, make object, as against what is it embedded in, attached to, identified within, or subject to. My goal became enhancing my awareness of how I made meaning and how new insights, which would transform a way of knowing, are created. The focus was on enhancing my practice. This Portfolio is structured into three essays. Essay One reported on my self-reflection and external evaluation out of which emerged my developmental goals. In Essay Two I undertake a reading for change programme in which different meaning making systems were confronted in order to challenge me as a meaning maker. Essay Three reported on my experiment which concerned the question whether it was possible for me as a property entrepreneur, and for others alike, to retain bank finance in the face of the overwhelming objective of the bank to deleverage their balance sheet of property loans. The output of my research can be grouped into General Developmental and Specific Business Implications. Firstly I address those who are interested in a transformational-based response to the challenges of operating in the property sector in Ireland during a crisis. I outline the apparatus of thought that I used to create insight, and thus transform how I thought, these are Awareness, Subject-object separation, Exploring other’s perspectives from the position of incompleteness, Dialectical thinking and Collingwood’s Questioning activity. Secondly I set out my learnings from the crisis and their impact on entrepreneurial behaviour and the business of property development. I identify ten key insights that have emerged from leading a property company through the crisis. Many of these are grounded in common sense, however, in my experience these were, to borrow Shakespeare’s words, “More honor'd in the breach than the observance” in pre Crisis Ireland. Finally I set out a four-step approach for forging a strategy. This requires my peer practitioners to identify (i) what they are subject to, (ii) Assess the Opportunity or challenge in a Systemic Context, (iii) Explore Multiple Perspectives on the opportunity or Challenge with an Orientation to change how you know and (iv) Using the Questioning Activity to create Knowledge. Based on my experience I conclude that transformative thinking and practice is a key enabler for a property entrepreneur, in responding to a major collapse of traditional (bank debt) funding.
Property , Crisis management , Robert Kegan , Management , Consciousness , Meaning making , Transformation , Leadership capability , Mental development , Complexity , R. G. Collingwood , Laske , Entrepreneur
McCarthy, T. J. 2015. The role of transformative thinking and practice in a property entrepreneur's response to the funding crisis since 2008. DBA Thesis, University College Cork.