The Structural Dynamics Theory

Origins of the theory

Structural Dynamics is a theory of how face-to-face communication works (and does not work) in human systems. Its roots lie in systems theory, the study of phenomena as systems of interrelated parts. This model was developed through an empirical study of family communication over 35 years ago and has evolved and expanded over time in application to families, couples, teams and whole organizations.

Structural Dynamics is broadly applicable because most of the “work” of human systems and the decisions made there take place in face-to-face discourse. Communicative competency – the understanding of the structure of face-to-face communications in human systems – is the key to sound decision-making and to creating results.

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The 4 Player Model

The Four-Player Model is the core concept of David Kantor’s theory of Structural Dynamics. Said by many to be the consummate practitioner’s tool for identifying and modifying communication structures that take place "in the room," The Four-Player Model has been described as “useful, efficacious, concise, practical.”

The Model holds that in all interactions between people, there are four, and only four, possible speech acts. Many communication problems occur when individuals become "stuck" and over-use one of the four actions again and again, or when certain combined sequences of actions become entrenched, undermining group learning and effective decision making.

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Behavioral Propensities Profile