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  Jane Dutton, Kim Cameron and
Robert Quinn

New Book Explores the Power of POS

8/20/2003 --

ANN ARBOR, Mich.---There may be a better, more effective way for companies to achieve sustainable excellence in every aspect of performance, both on the individual and organizational level. Researchers at the University of Michigan Business School believe firms can reach this goal by tapping their "wellsprings" of human talent and creative energy while at the same time conducting their day-to-day operations using means that create positive emotion, positive meaning and positive relationships.

This revolutionary field of scientific study is called Positive Organizational Scholarship, or POS. It has been established as a center of excellence at the Michigan Business School where leading faculty will explore its potential, conduct field studies and share their findings through college coursework, lifelong learning seminars, public symposiums, scholarly papers and professional publications.

A newly released book called Positive Organizational Scholarship: Foundations of a New Discipline (Berrett-Koehler, San Francisco, 2003) describes the virtues and strengths in individuals and organizations associated with positive outcomes in business environments. Contributing authors reveal the dynamics of self-reinforcing positive spirals and the effects of positive emotion, inquiry and leadership on employees and companies. The book is co-edited by Business School faculty members Kim S. Cameron, Jane E. Dutton and Robert E. Quinn.

"POS is a way to unlock extraordinary human potential," Cameron says. "It is a means through which business organizations can create an environment where people find meaning and a sense of personal mission, leading to life fulfillment and purposefulness. POS also can help people form high-quality relationships, which sustain human flourishing and self-reliance."

According to Cameron, Dutton and Quinn, in order for a company to reach excellence, individual leaders must first experience a personal transformation that enables them to see greater possibilities and to attract others through positive inspiration. Leaders who rely solely on managing people and change cannot achieve these extraordinary results, they say.

This "changing me first" phenomenon is the initial step toward helping a company adopt a positive organizational approach. Companies also must be results-centered, willing to live by the values they profess, able to focus on serving others and open to external influences, the editors say. This is a tall order, but a worthwhile endeavor, if a company wants to reach and sustain excellence in all aspects of its performance, they add.

"POS is not an easy set of solutions that you pull off of the shelf and implement," says Dutton, who overlaid POS onto the content of a core MBA course she taught last spring. "The most important thing is that there are wellsprings of human excellence everywhere, which we as individuals and groups can tap."

"What's more, we can study these wellsprings and affect them. Whether you are talking about resolving the Romanian orphan crisis, turning around a struggling company or helping demoralized employees, you have the ability to intervene in the existing system and put it on a positive trajectory by understanding these wellsprings of human excellence. For me, this is the key."

View the Special Report on Positive Organizational Scholarship.

To learn more about Positive Organizational Scholarship, visit the POS Web site at

For more information, contact:
Bernie DeGroat
Phone: (734) 936-1015 or 647-1847