Organizational Development


Originating in the late 1950s and early 1960s, organizational development—or frequently "organization development"—focuses on the "human side" of corporations rather than on the scientific management side (see Management Theory, People-Centered and Management Theory, Process-Centered). Building on the socio-technical systems theory of Emery and Trist in England (which studied people, technology, and processes), the social psychology of Kurt Lewin, Carl Rogers, and Abraham Maslow in America, and the humanist experiments of Elton Mayo (see Hawthorne Effect), OD champions a view of workers as active participants in organizations rather than as links in a passive assembly line. Expanding Training and Development's traditional mandate of developing individual staff members, OD takes as its province the development of entire organizations. One way to view OD initially, in fact, is to see it as being a complement to the traditional view of training; here is a listing of the two, side by side:

Training

Organizational Development

Tactical teachers

Strategic consultants

Deliver courses

Facilitate groups

Trainer

Change agent (change management)

Build individual skills

Build teams, resolve conflicts

Hold classes

Carry out interventions

Lower level audience

Executive audience

Ad hoc events

Long-term relationships

Reactive

Proactive

Target knowledge

Target change

Having said this for purposes of differentiation, we should probably add that the two worlds are now fast coming together because of their common goal of "performance improvement." Entire HR departments are now calling themselves departments of organizational development, with their mandate being employee development as well as "organizational" development.

Fastpaths

Best Introduction:

  • W. Warner Burke: Organizational Development: A Process of Learning and Changing (1993, available in a more recent edition).

Best Series:

  • Addison-Wesley series on Organization Development (started by Beckhard and Schein in the 1960s).

Best History of Movement:

  • Marvin Weisbord: Productive Workplaces (1987), including chapter on "McGregor and the Roots of Organization Development." An inspired introduction to the rise of modern management theories and organizational development from Taylor's scientific management through Kurt Lewin's OD to McGregor's humanistic management and to more recent trends. Highly recommended for all performance consultants, instructional designers, and human performance technologists. One of the clearest books in the field, and written with passion, empathy, and understanding. Not only is Weisbord's book the best critical history of the OD movement, but it also highlights some surprising similarities between OD and earlier Taylorism.

Rapid History of the Movement as a Whole:

1911

Frederick Taylor: Principles of Scientific Management. Taylor's theory is typical of the old-line mechanistic view of organizations that OD initially reacted against (instead following in the footsteps of such thinkers and theorists as Kurt Lewin).

1951

Kurt Lewin: Field Theory in Social Science. Organization development is Lewin's living monument, and this book shows why. Lewin anticipates all the major themes of OD: team building, leadership styles, participative management, consultation skills, and change management (see Fastpaths 1987, Weisbord).

1959

Fred Emery: The Emergence of a New Paradigm of Work.

1960

Douglas McGregor: The Human Side of Enterprise.

1963

Eric Trist: Organizational Choice.

1964

Peter Drucker: Managing for Results. Vintage Drucker.

1964

Victor Vroom: Work and Motivation.

1965

Edgar Schein: Organizational Psychology.

1969

Richard Beckhard: Organization Development: Strategies and Models.

1969

Edgar Schein: Process Consultation: Its Role in Organization Development.

1969

Paul Hersey and Ken Blanchard: Management of Organizational Behavior: Utilizing Human Resources.

1970

Robert Townsend: Up the Organization. A delightfully lighthearted and iconoclastic look at organizations. Recommended reading still.

1972

Fred E. Emery and Russell Ackoff: On Purposeful Systems.

1972

Wendell French and Cecil Bell: Organization Development: Behavioral Science Interventions for Organization Improvement.

1977

Jay Galbraith: Organization Design.

1978

Donald Schon and C. Argyris: Organizational Learning I and II.

1978

Wendell French (ed.): Organization Development: Theory, Practice, and Research.

1978

Marvin Weisbord: Organizational Diagnosis: A Workbook of Theory and Practice.

1981

Peter Block: Flawless Consulting.

1982

W. Warner Burke Organization Development: Principles and Practices.

1983

Rosabeth Kanter: The Change Masters. Kanter studies the potential for entrepreneurship inside large corporations.

1987

James Kouzes and B. Posner: The Leadership Challenge.

1987

Marvin Weisbord: Productive Workplaces.

1987

Michael Harrison: Diagnosing Organizations.

1988

David Hanna: Designing Organizations for High Performance.

1990

Richard Pascale: Managing on the Edge: How the Smartest Companies Use Conflict to Stay Ahead.

1991

Lee Bolman and T. Deal: Reframing Organizations.

1993

Richard Pascale et al.: "The Reinvention Roller Coaster," Harvard Business Review (November–December 1993). Urges organizational audits, shifting organizational "context," and engineering organizational "breakdowns" in order to move beyond incrementalism.

1993

W. Warner Burke: Organizational Development: A Process of Learning and Changing. Excellent introduction.

1994

Wendell French et al.(eds): Organizational Development and Transformation: Managing Effective Change.

1995

William Rothwell (ed.): Practicing Organization Development: A Guide for Consultants.

2000

Jerry W. Gilley: Organizational Learning, Performance, and Change: An Introduction to Strategic Human Resource Development.

2001

Jay Shafritz and J. Ott (eds.): Classics of Organization Theory.

start sidebar

McGregor and Beckhard, building on the work of Lewin and others, reportedly coined the term "organizational development" in 1958.

end sidebar

See also Action Learning Management Theory, People-Centered






The 30-Second Encyclopedia of Learning and Performance. A Trainer's Guide to Theory, Terminology, and Practice
The 30-Second Encyclopedia of Learning and Performance: A Trainers Guide to Theory, Terminology, and Practice
ISBN: 0814471781
EAN: 2147483647
Year: 2002
Pages: 110
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