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...
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