by Brad Hunter
Steven Appelbaum will be honoured Feb. 27 for his recent appointment as
Concordia University Research Chair in Organizational Development.
Appelbaum, a professor of management in the John Molson School of Business,
will use this five-year appointment to continue studying client-consultant
relationships, an area he said has renewed significance in light of recent
downsizing and merger trends.
Theres nothing more enigmatic than the relationships between
organizations and their consultants, he said. The whole area
of client-consultant relationships is very significant today, because
as organizations are downsizing, they are contracting out more and more
for professional help, so the consultant becomes a critical component.
Another reason to continue studying client-consultant relationships is
that little literature exists on the subject. This, for me, was
the stimulus to continue working on this issue, because much more needs
to be done.
Appelbaum was dean of Concordias Faculty of Commerce and Administration,
as it was then called, from 1983 to 1990, a period in which the number
of faculty members nearly doubled, and several innovative programs were
He has written 18 textbooks and instructors manuals, and over 100
articles for major publications and journals, and investigated topics
as various as team-building, the survivor syndrome, managing stress and
conflict, mentoring and downsizing.
In 1998, Appelbaum was awarded the Leaders in Management Education Award,
sponsored by The Financial Post and Bell Canada, one of only four
Canadian academics so recognized each year. He is also a two-time winner
of the Outstanding Teaching Award presented by the John Molson School
of Business, in 1994 and 1999.
Appelbaum not only brings his extensive academic background in organizational
development to the study, but also considerable work experience, having
served as a consultant to many large organizations over the past 30 years.
He explained that the study will examine 13 components of the client-consultant
relationship, covering everything from when and at what level a consultants
expertise is needed in an organization, to when the consultant should
end a relationship and let an organization manage itself .
The study will also investigate ethical standards used in organizational
development, an area that has come under increased scrutiny because of
recent scandals at companies such as Enron, Nortel and WorldCom.
All these organizations used consultants, and I think the consultants
all helped to exacerbate the problem, Appelbaum said. If theyre
good, they should be smart enough to look around and say, These
organizations arent being managed properly. When do I blow the whistle?
One of the goals of the study will be to establish an organizational
development centre. Appel-baum said that this centre will enable graduate
students and faculty to simulate what goes on when an organization undergoes
Those of us out there doing consulting can bring in actual cases
and the actual problems we worked on, and have the students work on solutions
after the fact, or even during an intervention, to see what they come
up with, he explained. It becomes sort of an applied laboratory
where all of this can be tested.
We can look at problems and have students role-play and look at
the types of outcomes that are expected. We can then go back to an organization
and with some ideas of what the organization should be doing.
A research paper series based on the work being done in the centre will
also be launched. Appelbaum said the series will enable faculty to receive
feedback before papers are submitted to journals, feedback he hopes will
improve a papers chances of being accepted.
Appelbaum believes that the series of business research chairs established
over the past two years are good ways of recognizing those with proven
research records who can use their experiences to assist other faculty.
As research chair, I would like to serve as a mentor for some of
the younger faculty members who could use some of the work Im doing
in order to get more funded projects from government funding agencies,
and also possibly pursue external contracts, he said.
I think this research chair is recognition for something I started
over 30 years ago, he continued. With this position, Ive
really returned to my roots in organizational development after all this