All Quadrant Model/Integral Theory

All Quadrant Model Overview

The All Quadrant Model from Integral Theory (Wilber, 2001) is a tool that can be used to better understand the dynamics that influence an organization or discipline. It uses a quadrant as a framework for naming these dynamics at the individual and group levels as well as the subjective and objective levels.

The All Quadrant model includes four key elements described below and in the figure.

  • Upper Left (Individual interior) – what is inside an individual: thoughts, feelings, perceptions, personal meaning and value
  • Upper Right (Individual exterior) – what can be observed about an individual: behaviors, skills, roles, activities, physical factors
  • Lower Left (Group interior) – what is inside a group: worldview, cultural norms, shared values, collective meaning making, shared assumptions
  • Lower Right (Group exterior) – what can be observed about a group: social systems, environment, economic structures
Individual interior/Subjective Individual exterior/Objective
  • Thoughts
  • Feelings
  • Beliefs
  • Personal meaning making
  • Values
  • Intent and purpose
  • Skills and talents
  • Behaviors
  • Roles
  • Activities
  • Physical factors
  • Objective statistics – “The facts”
Group interior/Intersubjective Group exterior/Interobjective
  • Worldview
  • Cultural norms
  • Shared community values
  • Shared assumptions
  • Collective meaning making
  • Morality
  • Social systems
  • Environment
  • Economic structures
  • Material resources
  • Systems theory

The quadrants are separated to help identify the diverse influences on an event, person, or phenomenon.  We often view a situation from only one or two quadrants, thereby getting only a partial perspective. For example, many efforts to influence organizational change emphasize  training to increase skills (individual exterior) or procedural changes to processes (group exterior). This is especially true with volunteerism. Organizations taking the first steps at volunteer engagement may start with training or creating a volunteer handbook. These steps have merit but may overlook individual beliefs or group norms that undermine the desired change. For example, a stellar volunteer handbook won’t do much good if paid staff have had bad experiences with volunteers and believe that they are more trouble than they are worth.

Using the All Quadrant Model helps provide a more holistic understanding and identification of the factors that contribute to organizational behavior. It supports our ability to act integrally and effectively. By considering each quadrant individually, we can identify potential blind spots within our organizations or a change initiative. By considering the whole, we notice how the elements are dynamic and interacting with each other all the time.

All Quadrant Model for Volunteerism

The All Quadrant Model is a useful tool for understanding volunteerism at many levels, particularly since it takes place at the intersection of volunteers and organizations. It is influenced by the history and dynamics of the broader volunteer engagement field as well.  Therefore, it is helpful to consider the All Quadrant approach at different levels: the volunteer, the organization, and the professional field.

For organizations, in particular, the All Quadrant Model can be a helpful assessment tool for identifying what helps or hinders its success with volunteer engagement. The model applies to big-budget institutions with scores of volunteers and all-volunteer grassroots organizations with no paid staff and low budgets.  Ultimately, the All Quadrant model brings us one step closer to a more holistic understanding of and approach to volunteering.


Klein, E. (n.d.). Is real change possible? Retrieved from /Documents/IsChangePossible-EricKlein

Wilber, K. (2001). A theory of everything: An integral vision for business, politics, science, and spirituality. Boston, MA: Shambhala.

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