Organizational Change & Development

Topics: Organizational studies and human resource management, Organizational culture, Organization Pages: 29 (7030 words) Published: December 23, 2010
Organizational Change:

“No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it's not the same river and he's not the same man.", -Heraclitus.
Change is the one thing that we must all face. Every organization must change not only to survive, but also to retain its relevance in a world of intense competition, constant scientific progress, and rapid communication. It is inevitably necessary because without change organizations would be left behind and looses their competitive advantages. This is no more so than in today’s technological age. New products and innovations come onto the market quicker than ever before. Some companies are able to cut costs and produce a better, cheaper product by taking advantage of the latest technology. Those companies who are unwilling or unable to keep up generally do not last very long in today’s market. There are many aspects of change including the planning, implementation, and managing thereof. But in order for change to bring a benefit and advance an organization to a higher level of service and operation, that change must be driven by knowledge.

Background of Organizational Change:

The roots of organization change began to grow almost a century ago, when social scientists and business writers first tried to address the human-organizational conflicts beginning to emerge in modern industrial society.

After the Industrial Revolution, by the middle of the twentieth century there were established a defining feature of U.S. culture. Hierarchically structured corporations categorized employees neatly into power levels. They also required people to perform as well-oiled parts, subjugating individuality to the good of the whole. Machines became not only the instruments of economic progress, but a metaphor for how organizations should operate.

This metaphor was quickly translated into theory. Starting in the 1880s, Frederick Taylor developed a method of "scientific management" that even today influences work design. The method involves dividing tasks into the smallest possible units and enforcing strict performance specifications for each employee. During the early years of the 20th century, the social sciences began to emerge as recognized disciplines engaging in quantitative and qualitative research. Sociologists and psychologists began to study the "human element" in groups and organizations. During the 1920s, Mary Parker Follett’s visionary work on authority relationships anticipated later theories of participative management and conflict resolution.

At about the same time, between 1924-1932, a groundbreaking series of studies took place at the Hawthorne Electric Works in Chicago. Conducted by Fritz Roethlisberger and others under the direction of Elton Mayo, these studies established a new understanding of the effect of social relationships on productivity. Mayo's book on the Hawthorne Studies has been cited as "the first major call for a human relations movement"[1]

In the 1930s and into the 1940s, a growing body of literature explored organizational behavior, human motivation, leadership, and the effect of organization structure on individuals. Perhaps the most influential figure during this period was psychologist Kurt Lewin, who is widely considered the "grandfather" of organization change. Lewin’s theories integrated the individual, organization, and environment, proposing that none could be understood without reference to the others. His Action Research Model provided the first practical application of theory to organization change processes, and this model became the basis for many subsequent theories and applications. In the last few years of his life, between 1944 and 1947, Lewin launched two innovative research organizations:

The Commission on Community Interrelations, organized to investigate group dynamics especially in the context of ethnic, racial, and...
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