A History of Organization Development

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Executive Summary

The history of organization development is rich with the contributions of behavioral scientists and practitioners, many of whom are well known, as well as the contributions of many people in client organizations. Even if we were aware of all the significant contributors, which we are not, we could not do justice to the richness of this history in a short essay.

Systematic organization development activities have a recent history and, to use the analogy of a mangrove tree, have at least four important trunk stems. One trunk stem consists of innovations applying laboratory training insights to complex organizations. A second major stem is survey research and feedback methodology. Both stems are intertwined with a third, the emergence of action research. Paralleling these stems, and to some extent linked, is a fourth stem-the emergence of the Tavistock sociotechnical and socioclinical approaches. The key actors in this stems interect with each other and are influenced by experiences and concepts from many fields.

History of Organization Development

Definition of Organization Development

Organization development can be defined as a planned and sustained effort to apply behavioral science for system improvement, using reflexive, self-analytic methods.(Schumuck and Miles,1971)

Organization development is a response to change ,complex educational strategy intended to change the beliefs, attitudes, values, and structure of organization so that they can better adapt to new technologies, market, and challenges and the dizzying rate of change itself.(Benis,1969) In the 1950s and 1960s a new, integrated approach originated known as Organization Development (OD): the systematic application of behavioral science knowledge at various levels (group, intergroup, and total organization) to bring about planned change (Newstrom & Davis, 1993) At the core of OD is the concept of organization, defined as two or more people working together toward one or more shared goals. Development in this context is the notion that an organization may become more effective over time at achieving its goals. Organization development is a contractual relationship between a change agent and a sponsoring organization entered into for the purpose of using applied behavioral science in a systems context to improve organizational performance and the capacity of the organization to improve itself. OD is a long range effort to improve organization's problem solving and renewal processes, particularly through more effective and collaborative management of organizational culture, often with the assistance of a change agent or catalyst and the use of the theory and technology of applied behavioral science. Organizational development is an ongoing, systematic process to implement effective change in an organization. Organizational development is 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. It is interdisciplinary in nature and draws on sociology, psychology, and theories of motivation, learning, and personality.

Historical overview of Organizational Development
The history of organization development is rich with the contributions of behavioral scientists and practitioners, many of whom are well known, as well as the contributions of many people in client organizations. Even if we were aware of all the significant contributors, which we are not, we could not do justice to the richness of this history in a short essay.

Systematic organization development activities have a recent history and, to use the analogy of a mangrove tree, have at least four important trunk stems. One trunk stem consists of innovations applying laboratory training insights to complex organizations. A second major stem is survey research and feedback methodology. Both stems are intertwined with a third, the emergence of action research....
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