About The Process

Who is David Cooperrider?


David Cooperrider

Fairmount Minerals Professor
of Social Entrepreneurship
Professor, Organizational Behavior


Ph.D., Case Western
Reserve University, 1986
M.S., George Williams, 1983
B.A., Augustana College, 1976



David L. Cooperrider is the Fairmount Minerals Professor of Social Entrepreneurship at the Weatherhead School of Management, Case Western Reserve University, and is the creator of the Appreciative Inquiry (AI) method. Professor Cooperrider is past chair of the National Academy of Management’s OD Division and has lectured and taught at Harvard, Stanford, University of Chicago, Katholieke University in Belgium, MIT, University of Michigan, Cambridge, and others. Cooperrider is founder and chair of the Fowler Center for Sustainable Value; the center’s core proposition is that sustainability is the business opportunity of the 21st century, indeed, that every social and global issue of our day is an opportunity to ignite industry-leading eco-innovation, social entrepreneurship, and new sources of value.


Cooperrider has served as advisor to a wide variety of organizations, including the United Nations Global Compact, the U.S. Navy, Boeing Corporation, Fairmount Minerals, Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, McKinsey, Parker, Sherwin Williams, and Wal-Mart, as well as the American Red Cross, the American Hospital Association, the Cleveland Clinic, and World Vision. Most of the projects are inspired by the Appreciative Inquiry (AI) methodology for which Cooperrider is best known. His founding theoretical work in this area is creating a positive revolution in the leadership of change; it is helping institutions all over the world discover the power of the strength-based approaches to multi-stakeholder innovation and sustainable design. Cooperrider’s work is especially unique because of its ability to enable positive change, innovation, and sustainable design in systems of large and complex scale.


Cooperrider has published 15 books and authored more than 50 articles. Cooperrider’s volumes include Handbook of Transformative Cooperation (with Sandy Piderit and Ron Fry); The Organization Dimensions of Global Change (with Jane Dutton); and Organizational Courage and Executive Wisdom (with Suresh Srivastva). Cooperrider is editor of the research series Advances in Appreciative Inquiry (with Michel Avital) published by Elsevier Science, which is currently going to press with its third volume.

What is Appreciative Inquiry?

An appreciative inquiry summit is a large group planning, designing, or implementation meeting that brings a whole system of internal and external strengths together in a concentrated way to work on a task of strategic importance. Moreover, it is a meeting where everyone is engaged as a designer, across all relevant and resource-rich boundaries, to share leadership and take ownership for making the future of some big-league opportunity successful.

The meeting is based on a simple notion: that when it comes to strength-based management, there is nothing that brings out the best in human systems — faster, more consistently, and more effectively — than the power of “the whole.” It’s not about isolated strengths, per se, but about configurations, combinations, and interfaces. It’s all about the chemistry of strengths, and it is founded on the asset-based concept of leadership first articulated by Peter Drucker: “The task of leadership,” said the father of management thought, “is to create an alignment of strengths in ways that make a system’s weaknesses irrelevant.”


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