International Organization Development Organizational Development Thinking and Practices for Global Businesses Settings

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Globalization has forced an environment of tight resources and new challenges in which dynamic companies are exploring and creating new capabilities and opportunities overseas. Large international organizations are increasingly turning to organizational development practices to solve problems of inefficiency. However, they often face challenges when operating in the international context, especially when difficulties arise when companies combining international business, organization development and inter-cultural communication, fail to address the complexity and agility needed in today’s global business arena. This paper will attempt to assess the strategies organizational development (OD) consultants can use to design and implement planned organizational changes for international companies and help them fit their organizational procedures and practices to the different cultures in which they operate. These will include introducing new strategies for building structures and systems, as well as types of interventions used to building high performing global teams. Other topics discussed will also include strategies and OD interventions in global settings and the relationship between OD and international cultures including conflicts and interests. The practice of organizational development in global settings is fairly new and there is much debate on the applicability and effectiveness of traditional OD practices in cultures and organizations outside of the United States. This is because, according to Cummings and Worley, OD was “developed and practiced predominately by American and Western European practitioners and its practices and methods are heavily influenced by the values and assumptions of industrialized countries.” (1)

As a result, traditional OD practices that promote management practices often tend to conflict with the cultural and economic values of the different societies. (3) However, despite differing opinions, OD practices, when implemented in the correct manner, most often result in organizational improvement in any culture. The rapid development of foreign economies and the increasing availability of technical resources have resulted in the development of a global economy in which organizational development practices have already been developed to implement planned changed across cultures. In Organizational Change and Development, Cummings and Worley also state that when implementing planned changes for International companies, OD practitioners must account for two important factors. (1) These are, the alignment between the cultural values of the host country and traditional OD values and the host countries level of economic development. As a change agent, both of these factors are an essential part of defining and understanding of the client company’s international needs and requirements. Different countries have different values, customs, and styles of interacting and therefore the types of interventions OD practitioners employ must be anticipated to vary with the cultures in which they are practiced. It is of critical importance that traditional OD practices are geared to be responsive of the cultural values of the country in which practitioners implement changes in. Many OD practices are often culture bound and will be ineffective in certain cultures. (2) Hofstede, with his research on dimensions of culture, offered empirical evidence that demonstrated the importance of national culture on management practices and organizations. (4) After a series of research projects, Hofstede classified the cultural contexts of national cultures along five dimensions. The first four were found by comparing the values of employees and managers in fifty-three different national subsidiaries of the IBM Corporation. They are as follows: 1.Context Orientation, or how information is conveyed and whether time is values in a culture. 2.Power distance, or the degree of inequality among people which the population of...
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