Over the last 40 years, organization development has been widely applied in organizations settings across the world since it emanated from United States (Rees, 2008) and has progressed from a limited conceptual and practice base into a comprehensive, global approach to organizational improvement (Glassman and Cummings,1991), so it seems that understanding organization development’s content and its relations to organizations has become more and more critical for OD professions. Therefore, as a student study organizational change and development, I will explore these aspects in this essay.
1. Organization Development
Organization development, originates from United States in the mid-1950s, is generally known as both a field of applied behavioral science focused on understanding and managing organizational change and as a field of scientific study and inquiry (Meyer and Meyer, 2011), but when asked to define the organization development accurately, it seems that “no single accepted definition of OD exists” (French and Bell, 1999:24) because the field which organization development involves is dynamism, diversity and ambiguity (Karakas,2009). Among the numerous scholars who have given definitions of organization development, Beckhard (1969) who addresses the process of organization development, defining organization development as “an effort planned, organizationwide and managed from the top to increase organization effectiveness and health, through planned interventions in the organization’s process using behavioral science knowledge”. However, according to French et al.(2000): “organization development is a long-term effort, led and supported by top management, to improve an organization’s visioning, empowerment, learning and problem-solving processes, through an ongoing, collaborative management of organization culture - with special emphasis on the culture of intact work teams and other team configurations-using the consultant-facilitator role and the theory and the technology of applied behavioral science, including action research”, his description focuses on the organization development’s long-term of interest and use of consultants. Concerned with culture as the target of change, organization development can also be defined as “a planned process of change in an organization’s culture through the utilization of behavioral science technologies, research and the theory” (Burke, 1994: 2). Moreover, from the perspective of emphasizing on the features differentiate organization development from other approaches to organization change and improvement, Cummings and Worley (2005) make the point that: “organization development is a systemwide application and transfer of behavioral science knowledge to the planned development, improvement and reinforcement of strategies, structures and processes that lead to organization effectiveness.” Although these above definitions of organization development vary in emphasis, it is apparent that organization development features prominently in organization change theory and practice (Rees, 2008). In fact, “all approaches to OD rely on some theory about planned change”(Cummings and Worley,2008), so the key feature of organization development is planning change and this key feature is based on a planned and long-range strategy for managing change in order to improve organizational effectiveness while following OD processes, principles, and values(Kenis,2010). Therefore, according to the key feature of organization development, the results from planned action must be continuously examined and change strategies revised as interventions unfold(Kenis,2010), and the practice of organization development should not only focuses on facilitating intentional change efforts based on an informed diagnosis, but also addresses issues holistically with the system in mind (this involves the application of systems thinking and thereafter, making appropriate interventions/changes to the...
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