Appreciative Inquiry Research Review & Notes: A Research Review of SOAR
A Research Review of SOAR The purpose of this article is to highlight basic and applied research that has taken SOAR beyond its original purpose of strategic thinking and planning applications. We begin with a brief review of SOAR and then highlight eight doctoral dissertations that have been conducted to advance the theory and practice of SOAR. The growing empirical studies on SOAR address both the basic and applied dimensions of research. While the purpose of basic research is to acquire
... is to acquire knowledge for its own sake, the purpose of applied research is to help people more effectively control the environment (Patton, 2002) . What is SOAR? SOAR is a "positive approach to strategic thinking and planning that allows an organization to construct its future through collaboration, shared understanding, and a commitment to action" (Stavros and Hinrichs, 2009, p. 3). SOAR stands for strengths, opportunities, aspirations and results. The SOAR framework provides a flexible approach to strategic thinking, planning and leading that invites the whole system into a strategic planning or strategy process by including all those with a stake in the success of the organization's future. These stakeholders can be internal (i.e. employees) or external (i.e. customers, suppliers and communities). Utilizing a whole-system perspective provides a more complete picture of how an organization best serves its customers and what its future can become by considering many different stakeholders' perspectives. SOAR begins with a strategic inquiry using an appreciative intent through a discussion regarding the strengths and opportunities available to the organization. SOAR reframes weaknesses and threats that arise during the strategic dialogue, The purpose of this article is to highlight basic and applied research on SOAR that has taken SOAR beyond its original purpose of strategic thinking and planning applications. The eight empirical studies address, among other topics, how SOAR has been used: to build trust to increase supplier and customer performance; to build strategic capacity; in executive coaching; to build organizational collective motivation. These empirical studies exemplify researching the theory and practical efficacy of SOAR.