Personal Statement / Research Question

Hey everyone!!

I intend to apply for 2 Ph.D. programs in the Organizational Development / Change domain, one question crossed my mind while writing my Statement of Purpose and I want to ask your opinion.

Even though the social norm for a Statement of Purpose says 1000 words, I checked and my limits for both programs are about 3 pages. I already have 3 pages and a couple of lines on the 4th page, so everything that enters needs to be well thought and probably some other things need to be removed. With that being said, here it goes:

Considering the statement of purpose is to show how your academic, professional, and personal life lead you to be prepared for the Ph.D. program; as a way to show that I am able to connect the theory and propose ideas, I thought about writing some theoretical reasoning for an idea I recently had followed by a couple of research questions about the impacts of such implementation. I showed it to a friend who recently entered a Ph.D. program and he said that paragraph was more suited for a research proposal rather than a personal statement. What do you think??

The paragraph is something like this:

For instance, the last significant innovation in the organizational change domain was over 30 years ago (Burke, 2011). Though, with around a 70% of failure rate, there is still room for improvement regarding sustaining the effects over a long-lasting timeframe (Burke, 2011). Intentional Change Theory posits the importance of the Ideal Self for individuals to implement self-directed and sustained changes (Boyatzis, 2006). Considering that (1) recent generations aim for working with something meaningful for them (Lancaster & Stillman, 2010; Stillman & Stillman, 2017), (2) the Ideal Self is crafted through a coaching process for the top management team, (3) the process is rolled out in phased stages for leaders down the organizational structure, and (4) these future selves intersect with the company’s purpose. Could pursuing the Ideal Self in a social context evoke facilitating and engaging leadership behaviors that are related to change success (Higgs & Rowland, 2011)? Could the excitement coming from its realization emotionally infect others and impact existing social dynamics? Could sharing this desired future state with others help establish expectations, ease communication, and facilitate organizational change? Could the phased stages take advantage of the social network formed during the intentional change process (Smith, 2006) and accelerate organizational development? If this rollout is implemented through the social system’s energizers rather than organizational structure, could it lead to a different outcome? And given both leadership and organizational purposes present a high level of convergence, could this impact how organizations work with loosely coupled systems? I understand there is a myriad of questions to reflect over before reaching any conclusion, especially ethical ones about individuals going through an unrequested changing process with impacts on their sense of identity. But these questions centered on individual self-directed change driving organizational change could shift the current literature inertia regarding social technologies innovation.

Just so you understand my situation, I am somewhat desperate (maybe more like VERY VERY concerned) for getting accepted. If I look at the organizational development/change industry, even though studies show that we should consider the whole individual (going beyond the behavioral level) in those processes, all the popularized practices treat employees like they are teaching dogs how to sit and roll (I think it is given that I get very pissed about this). The “desperation” is because for me it is a matter of values. Every time I have to talk with someone from the industry I already start the conversation kinda bored because they come like they are doing amazing work when, in my opinion, they are just repeating what others have been doing inefficiently for years. Moreover, there are only 2 programs doing this kind of research from this perspective. So that’s why I prefer to triple-check everything I do that can impact my application. :sweat_smile:

Hi Diegoneto,

Ultimately you have to look at this from the perspective of the people admitting you.
If the above paragraph is interesting to them and not ruffling any feathers, it can’t do any harm.

I’d avoid broad statements like “could shift the current literature inertia regarding social technologies innovation.” It could seem (to slow-moving academia types) like a bit too much hyperbole.

You could submit to one organization and then ask for feedback before submitting to the next one. This may be a good way of determining if you are on the right track with this sort of paragraph.

All the best and let us know how you go!


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Thank you for your feedback @AndyStapleton!!

I hear you about the inertia sentence. In my “defense” I raise this topic by citing the work of a renowned scholar in the field that is part of the faculty from one of the programs I am going to apply for.

And considering I will apply to only two programs, I don’t have many shots to miss!! :sweat_smile:

Even though believing going out of the ordinary is not necessarily a negative thing, I’m probably going to leave that out. Too many cons and risks for uncertain pros, and too many necessary changes in my SoP that look very round (at least for me and one or two colleagues :sweat_smile:) and barely fit the size limit. But it is definitely good to have another perspective over this in case I decide to go guns blazing. :sweat_smile: :sweat_smile: :sweat_smile:

Thank you very much for the feedback!! :fist_right: :fist_left:

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While you already have a friend who is currently doing his PhD and has given you his opinion, I think that your friend can as well be able to brainstorm with you on how to adjust what you have already written into your personal statement. Let us assume that you already have a research proposal now.