Organization Development
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Organization Development

A Jossey-Bass Reader

Joan V. Gallos, Joan V. Gallos

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eBook - ePub

Organization Development

A Jossey-Bass Reader

Joan V. Gallos, Joan V. Gallos

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About This Book

This is the third book in the Jossey-Bass Reader series, Organization Development: A Jossey-Bass Reader. This collection will introduce the key thinkers and contributors in organization development including Ed Lawler, Peter Senge, Chris Argyris, Richard Hackman, Jay Galbraith, Cooperrider, Rosabeth Moss Kanter, Bolman & Deal, Kouzes & Posner, and Ed Schein, among others. "Without reservations I recommend this volume to those students of organizational behavior who want an encyclopedia of OD to gain a perspective on the past, present, and future...."
Jonathan D. Springer of the American Psychological Association.

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The OD Field: Setting the Context, Understanding the Legacy

The state of OD today is clearly linked to where and how the field began. OD’s roots are anchored in the larger human relations movement of the 1950s. They were nourished by ideas in good currency in subsequent decades that promoted self-expression, individual agency, the release of human potential, and expectations for human growth in the workplace—the same forces that supported parallel growth in the budding fields of social and developmental psychology. Specific developments in a number of key areas fueled OD’s meteoric rise: the T-group movement and other forms of laboratory education in the United States, sociotechnical systems thinking from the British Tavistock Institute, development of survey research methods, and expanding interests within and outside the academy in issues of individual and group effectiveness. Academics and early practitioners in the field such as Kurt Lewin, Chris Argyris, Abraham Maslow, Douglas MacGregor, Edgar Schein, and Rensis Likert promoted the value of learning from experience, modeled the importance of linking theory and practice, and gave OD its distinctive dual focus on understanding how organizations can and should operate by working to improve them. At its inception, OD was revolutionary in developing and applying its theories of people and change to organizational life and functioning. Understanding the field of organization development today requires knowing something about this history.
The first two chapters in Part One, excerpts from Richard Beckhard’s classic Organization Development: Strategies and Models and from W. Warner Burke’s influential Organizational Development: A Normative View, present the historical roots and purposes of OD in the words of two individuals who have significantly shaped the field. It seems right to begin with Beckhard’s classic definition. Legend has it that he and his colleague Robert Tannenbaum gave the field its name in the 1950s while sitting around a kitchen table. Their reasoning went something like this: if individual development is the term for human growth and change in response to challenge and opportunities, then the growth and development of organizations and large social systems logically should be called organization—not organizationaldevelopment. These two historic articles are followed by an astute analysis of the current state of the field by Philip H. Mirvis, written for this volume. Mirvis updates his classic two-part history of evolutionary and revolutionary shifts in OD. He examines how current theories, processes, applications, and possibilities in the field—the new, new OD—are explained by understanding shifts in OD’s knowledge base, its development as a social and intellectual movement, the influences of its clients and practices, and ongoing changes in the larger sociopolitical and industrial context of work.
Part One closes with an exploration and update on the interplay between theory and practice in the OD field. The early days of OD were marked by a dynamic and ready exchange of knowledge between the scholarly and practitioner communities. That is not as true today, but such reciprocity is the key to keeping OD fresh and relevant. John R. Austin and Jean M. Bartunek explore academic and practitioner approaches to organizational knowledge. They distinguish between scholarly efforts to theorize about the organizational goals and dynamics of change and the grounded understandings of intervention and implementation that come from change agents laboring in the organizational trenches. The authors outline key research and theoretical contributions in each area, situate OD in the larger field of change management, argue for better linking of academic and practice-based learning about organizational change, and suggest strategies for forging such links.

What Is Organization Development?

Richard Beckhard
Organization development is an effort (1) planned, (2) organization-wide, and (3) managed from the top, to (4) increase organization effectiveness and health through (5) planned interventions in the organization’s “processes,” using behavioral-science knowledge.
  1. 1. It is a planned change effort.
    An OD program involves a systematic diagnosis of the organization, the development of a strategic plan for improvement, and the mobilization of resources to carry out the effort.
  2. 2. It involves the total “system.”
    An organization-development effort is related to a total organization change such as a change in the culture or the reward systems or the total managerial strategy. There may be tactical efforts which work with subparts of the organization but the “system” to be changed is a total, relatively autonomous organization. This is not necessarily a total corporation, or an entire government, but refers to a system which is relatively free to determine its own plans and future within very general constraints from the environment.
  3. 3. It is managed from the top.
    In an organization-development effort, the top management of the system has a personal investment in the program and its outcomes. They actively participate in the management of the effort. This does not mean they must participate in the same activities as others, but it does mean that they must have both knowledge and commitment to the goals of the program and must actively support the methods used to achieve the goals.
  4. 4. It is designed to increase organization effectiveness and health.
    To understand the goals of organization development, it is necessary to have some picture of what an “ideal” effective, healthy organization would look like. What would be its characteristics? Numbers of writers and practitioners in the field have proposed definitions which, although they differ in detail, indicate a strong consensus of what a healthy operating organization is. Let me start with my own definition. An effective organization is one in which:
    1. a. The total organization, the significant subparts, and individuals manage their work against goals and plans for achievement of these goals.
    2. b. Form follows function (the problem, or task, or project determines how the human resources are organized).
    3. c. Decisions are made by and near the sources of information regardless of where these sources are located on the organization chart.
    4. d. The reward system is such that managers and supervisors are rewarded (and punished) comparably for:
      • short-term profit or production performance,
      • growth and development of their subordinates,
      • creating a viable working group.
    5. e. Communication laterally and vertically is relatively undistorted. People are generally open and confronting. They share all the relevant facts including feelings.
    6. f. There is a minimum amount of inappropriate win/lose activities between individuals and groups. Constant effort exists at all levels to treat conflict and conflict-situations as problems subject to problem-solving methods.
    7. g. There is high “conflict” (clash of ideas) about tasks and projects, and relatively little energy spent in clashing over interpersonal difficulties because they have been generally worked through.
    8. h. The organization and its parts see themselves as interacting with each other and with a larger environment. The organization is an “open system.”
    9. i. There is a shared value and management strategy to support it, of trying to help each person (or unit) in the organization maintain his (or its) integrity and uniqueness in an interdependent environment.
    10. j. The organization and its members operate in an “actionre-search” way. General practice is to build in feedback mechanisms so that individuals and groups can learn from their own experience.
    Another definition is found in John Gardner’s set of rules for an effective organization. He describes an effective organization as one which is self-renewing and then lists the rules:
    The first rule is that the organization must have an effective program for the recruitment and development of talent.
    The second rule for the organization capable of continuous renewal is that it must be a hospitable environment for the individual.
    The third rule is that the organization must have built-in provisions for self-criticism.
    The fourth rule is that there must be fluidity in the internal structure.
    The fifth rule is that the organization must have some means of combating the process by which men become prisoners of their procedures (Gardner, 1965).
    Edgar Schein defines organization effectiveness in relation to what he calls “the adaptive coping cycle,” that is, an organization that can effectively adapt and cope with the changes in its environment. Specifically, he says:
    The sequence of activities or processes which begins with some change in the internal or external environment and ends with a more adaptive, dynamic equilibrium for dealing with the change, is the organization’s “adaptive coping cycle.” If we identify the various stages or processes of this cycle, we shall also be able to identify the points where organizations typically may fail to cope adequately and where, therefore, consultants and researchers have been able in a variety of ways to help increase organization effectiveness (Schein, 1965).
    The organization conditions necessary for effective coping, according to Schein, are:
    • The ability to take in and communicate information reliably and validly.
    • Internal flexibility and creativity to make the changes which are demanded by the information obtained (including structural flexibility).
    • Integration and commitment to the goals of the organization from which comes the willingness to change.
    • An internal climate of support and freedom from threat, since being threatened undermines good communication, reduces flexibility, and stimulates self-protection rather than concern for the total system.
    Miles and others (1966) define the healthy organization in three broad areas—those concerned with task accomplishment, those concerned with internal integration, and those involving mutual adaptation of the organization and its environment. The following dimensional conditions are listed for each area:
    In the task-accomplishment area, a healthy organization would be one with (1) reasonably clear, accepted, achievable and appropriate goals; (2) relatively understood communications flow; (3) optimal power equalization.
    In the area of internal integration, a healthy organization would be one with (4) resource utilization and individuals’ good fit between personal disposition and role demands; (5) a reasonable degree of cohesiveness and “organization identity,” clear and attractive enough so that persons feel actively connected to it; (6) high morale. In order to have growth and active changefulness, a healthy organization would be one with innovativeness, autonomy, adaptation, and problem-solving adequacy.
    Lou Morse (1968), in his thesis on organization development, wrote:
    The commonality of goals are cooperative group relations, consensus, integration, and commitment to the goals of the organization (task accomplishment), creativity, authentic behavior, freedom from threat, full utilization of a person’s capabilities, and organizational flexibility.
  5. 5. Organization development achieves its goals through planned interventions using behavioral-science knowledge.
    A strategy is developed of intervening or moving into the existing organization and helping it, in effect, “stop the music,” examine its present wa...

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