Actor-Presence Model

It has been argued that profiting from certain forms of employee experiences requires a form of modelling that differs substantially from the representational form. It includes the modelled into the modelling process and provides them with a direct link to practise. They do not only represent them.

A core aspect of this form of modelling is that it requires people to engage with others in research-like activities and thereby become witnesses to their co-development. It is strongly linked to the notion of ‘presence’ as it can be shown to support improvements in trust, but also in physical and mental health. Referred to as actor-presence modelling, it makes it possible to describe when people are able to resist certain treatments as well as why and how, for example to support their companies or damage and even destroy them. The methods supporting such modelling include forms of qualitative analysis, but also the development of sequences or stories that serve as descriptions as well as criteria. The paper contains an example of their application. It is a story that refers to the way employees coordinate their activities (manage their contributions given the company’s aims) and to the results (the realisation of the aims)—when driving developments towards more cooperative and respectful forms of behaviour.

The Actor-Presence Model was introduced as the result of two contributions. The first concerned the difficulties that representational modelling has to face when modelling organisations and other forms of embedded behaviour. These difficulties required the introduction of increasingly complex models that were categorised in terms of four types. It was concluded that a fifth or relational type of model would be advisable, a fundamentally different type of model. It would allow for the naming of a large amount of variation, i.e. variation that might be increased by the use of the model to achieve organisational change (e.g. Fiske et al. 2002). The second contribution concerned certain aspects of this fifth type of model; in particular its emphasis on the experiences of individuals interacting with other individuals to achieve some task, whilst attempting to satisfy the research criterion (introduced via the work of Comte (1854), but clarified in the work of many other authors on research). It was argued to be necessary, but also shown to be useful, to emphasise the concept of ‘presence’, as a way to describe subjective experiences as part of an objectively observable entity, i.e. a collective striving to change itself. Further work is needed …