Evolution of Organizational Development

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Advances in Developing Human Resources
http://adh.sagepub.com The Evolution of Organization Development at Cornell University: Strategies for Improving Performance and Building Capacity Chester C. Warzynski Advances in Developing Human Resources 2005; 7; 338 DOI: 10.1177/1523422305277175 The online version of this article can be found at: http://adh.sagepub.com/cgi/content/abstract/7/3/338

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10.1177/1523422305277175 Advances in Developing Human Resources Warzynski / ORGANIZATION DEVELOPMENT A CORNELL T

August 2005

The Evolution of Organization Development at Cornell University: Strategies for Improving Performance and Building Capacity Chester C. Warzynski
The problem and the solution. Beer and Nohria propose that there is an inherent tension between organizational strategies designed to improve economic performance (Theory E) and organizational strategies designed to build organizational capacity (Theory O). They argue that the most effective approach to change integrates the two theories along six dimensions: goals, leadership, focus, process, rewards, and use of consultants. This article assesses the efficacy of the Beer and Nohria hypothesis in explaining organizational change by examining four senior leadership initiatives at Cornell University during the past decade and the organizational development strategies that emerged to support them. The article concludes with some lessons learned and the observation that an evolutionary approach to organizational development may provide a useful model for other universities. Keywords: process consultation; sociotechnical systems development; strategic OD; collaboration

Organizational development (OD) may be defined as a planned change process in which people, cultures, work processes, structures, and technologies are developed, integrated, and aligned to strengthen an organization’s economic performance or increase its capacity to adapt and respond effectively to the environment in which it operates. OD is an essential function in many universities today. Increasing demands for new knowledge and educated people to maintain our social institutions and solve societal problems require sustained economic performance and increased capacity at all levels of organization. Hence, there is an ongoing need for new approaches to OD. Advances in Developing Human Resources Vol. 7, No. 3 August 2005 338-350 DOI: 10.1177/1523422305277175 Copyright 2005 Sage Publications

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Warzynski / ORGANIZATION DEVELOPMENT AT CORNELL

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Beer and Nohria (2000), academic researchers in the field of organizational behavior, propose a comprehensive and integrative approach to change in which an organization may simultaneously improve economic performance while developing organizational capability. According to the authors, this can be accomplished through recognizing the value of satisfying both goals simultaneously; providing top management direction but involving employees from below; focusing on the integration and alignment of structure, culture, and systems; developing flexibility and spontaneity in work processes; using incentives to reward changes in performance rather than drive change; and using consultants as...
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