Allcorn Gift for Center for the Study of Organizational Change

Seth Allcorn and Michael Diamond

Seth Allcorn and Michael Diamond

When Seth Allcorn, MBA, '73, PhD '88, went to work after completing his master's degree, he noticed that some things about the workplace didn't quite agree with what he had studied. "As I worked, it began to look apparent that a lot of stuff happened that wasn't rational-strange, bizarre and unreal stuff all the time-stuff that I didn't see in my MBA program," Allcorn says. As he pondered his own experience and inquired of peers, he soon learned his experience was not unique.

What Allcorn observed triggered a question that would guide his work for more than 30 years, "Why is the work place so irrational when it is put forth as a rational place?"

Allcorn began his search examining the question from a sociology and social psychology perspective. As he studied, he recognized the description of the dysfunction he had seen, but sources left him wanting more. "I read books explaining the dysfunction of bureaucracy but that never told me why," Allcorn says.

By the late '70s he had gone through all the literature and still didn't have an answer to his basic question. At that point he says he gave up. Then, he met Michael Diamond, who was an assistant professor of public administration at MU at the time. "He was working on a psychoanalytic theory to answer the question," Allcorn says. Allcorn was working as the administrative manager for the MU Department of Medicine at the time. Under the tutelage of Diamond whose influence would shape the rest of his career, Allcorn decided to start work on a doctorate. Reinvigorated, Allcorn completed his degree as he and Diamond began a collaboration that continues today. "We started working together. It was very synergistic. I came from the business side, and he came from the academic side. Together we began to publish and saw a lot of progress," Allcorn said.

Both Diamond and Allcorn helped form the International Society for the Psychoanalytic Study of Organizations in 1983, with Diamond serving as the group's second president. "Now there were 50 to 75 people around the world who were working on this problem from a psychodynamic perspective. It was exciting. We were on the front-edge of a new area of inter-disciplinary research," Allcorn says.

In 1987, just before finishing his dissertation, Allcorn left MU for management opportunities that would take him over the next twenty years to Rochester, N.Y., Chicago, Ill., and Lubbock, Texas. At the same time, Allcorn maintained a consulting practice that focused on the management of change, strategic planning, and organizational restructuring. "After I left (MU), Michael and I continued to collaborate, but from a distance," Allcorn says.

Giving Back to the Center for the Study of Organizational Change
Allcorn made one last stop in New England before retiring and returning to Columbia in 2011. In retirement, he continues as an associate with the Center for the Study of Organizational Change, founded by Diamond in 1996. Allcorn serves as professor of professional practice, which allows him to continue his work with Diamond, contribute scholarly content and work with the Center's students.

Since returning to Columbia, Allcorn realized he needed to do some estate planning. "I asked myself, ‘what can I do with my assets-through my will-that is closest to what I have cared about most?' For me, that is the Center and this discipline," Allcorn explains.

Allcorn created a planned gift through his estate that will establish an endowment that provides fellowships for doctoral students and an annual award for an outstanding book or paper.

Diamond acknowledges the significance of Allcorn's gift to help ensure the work of the Center. "This generous gift is designated primarily to further the next generation of scholars by supporting doctoral student fellowships in organizational studies. Students with academic and research interests in the psychodynamics of organizational change, politics and culture, will work closely as doctoral research assistants with the Center," Diamond says.

For more information about the Center, visit their website.

Learn How You Can Help
If you would like to give back to the University of Missouri with a planned gift, contact The Office of Gift Planning and Endowments at 1-800-970-9977 or (573) 882-0272 or We would be happy to help you find the gift that's right for you, at no obligation.

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