Abstract In striving for greater integration of children services across a number of government and non government agencies, this paper examines the effect of drawing on deliberative inquiry as the lever for realising greater alignment across agencies. The paper discusses the need for improvement in UK local government children's services and then offers a review of the dialogue based inquiry approaches. In so doing, the paper highlights the Socratic mode of inquiry, emphasising the dual strategies of penetrative questioning, elenchus, and the process of founding new knowledge through working through confusion, aporia. This paper then reports how a London borough realised sustained change through the adoption of deliberative inquiry. The study achieved successful integration through the penetrating and contextually sensitive dialogue the inquiry participants generated, allowing them to develop the capability for realising effective organisational change. The paper concludes that deliberative inquiry facilitates individuals to speak their concerns in a manner that prompts ‘consensually accepted beliefs' to emerge through paying equal attention to the motivation of the inquiry participants, as well as to the reality of the contextual demands they need to confro
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