What Are Constructs?

Through our life experiences, we build up a view of how the world operates, and the right way for us to act in the world. We build a sense of our identity, and around our identity construct a set of values and principles that help guide the actions we take in our lives. We can have difficulty with people who think or act differently because this difference challenges our construct, i.e., the way we believe the world should operate, and how we and others should act in the world.

The construct we build is unique to ourselves. We feel most at home when we are part of a social group that has a construct close to our own. If the behaviors of those with whom we relate are too inconsistent with our construct, it challenges us, and can cause tension and stress.

There are many forces that influence the way we see the world, and the way we see ourselves. Drivers in our culture, such as religious beliefs and political views, are important influences that help create an individual’s construct. Our construct is also influenced by the time in which we live, i.e., if we experience the uncertainties and insecurities of war, we develop a construct that focuses on characteristics that help ensure physical and material survival. If we live in times of abundance, and particularly if we grow up in such times, we tend to focus on different set of factors which have to do with gaining value and meaningful experiences in the way we live our lives.

Variations in constructs can be particularly challenging to the robustness of close interpersonal relationships. If the partners in a relationship have quite different views of important characteristics in those relationships, and each acts consistent with their own construct, then this can be a source of conflict and stress. To be in a close and sustaining relationship, there has to be a way in which, together, the partners resolve differences in their constructs in a way that the differences are not a source of continual conflict and stress. This is true for individuals and for groups. For those involved in change in business and industry, it is also important to acknowledge that the workplace involves an abundance of interpersonal relationships, and that changes in the workplace challenge the constructs of both organizational members and organizational groups.

Paradigms are constructs that exist at both the individual and societal level. The paradigms that have prevailed in business and industry have provided the framework for today’s leaders to achieve their current positions within their business communities.

Improving performance in business and industry requires an understanding of the dynamics of change, how individual and group constructs are influenced by change, and the process by which real and positive change can be achieved. Today’s rapidly- changing marketplace calls for organizations to have the capabilities needed to intelligently and efficiently adapt to change. Gaining and sustaining these capabilities is an essential goal for long-term success.

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