October 21, 2012

MU0011 [Management and Organizational Development] Set1 Q2

Q.2) Discuss the genesis of Organizational Development.


The history of organization development will help to clarify the genesis and the evolution of this term organization development. It would also enable to clarify some of the issues or confusions that have surrounded OD.

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.

In the late 1960s organizational development was implemented in organizations via consultants, but was relatively unknown as a theory of practice and had no common definition among its practitioners. Richard Beckhard, an authority on organizational development and change management, defined organizational development as "an effort, planned, organization-wide, and managed from the top, to increase organization effectiveness and health through planned interventions in the organization's processes, using behavioral-science knowledge" (Beckhard 1969).

Throughout the 1970s and 1980s organizational development became a more established field with courses and programs being offered in business, education, and administration curricula. In the 1990s and 2000s organizational development continued to grow and evolve and its influences could be seen in theories and strategies such as total quality management (TQM), team building, job enrichment, and reengineering.

Organizational development takes into consideration how the organization and its constituents or employees function together. Does the organization meet the needs of its employees? Do the employees work effectively to make the organization a success? How can the symbiotic relationship between employee satisfaction and organizational success be optimized? Organizational development places emphasis on the human factors and data inherent in the organization-employee relationship. Organizational development strategies can be used to help employees become more committed and more adaptable, which ultimately improves the organization as a whole.

The organizational development process is initiated when there is a need, gap, or dissatisfaction within the organization, either at the upper management level or within the employee body. Ideally, the process involves the organization in its entirety, with evidenced support from upper management and engagement in the effort by all members from each level of the organization.

To launch the process, consultants with experience in organizational development and change management are often utilized. These consultants may be internal to the company or external, with the cautionary understanding that internal consultants might be too entrenched in the existing company environment to effectively coordinate and enforce the action plans and solutions required for successful change.

Data analysis through task forces, interviews, and questionnaires can illuminate likely causes for disconnects throughout an organization. These gaps can then be analyzed, an action plan formed, and solutions employed. This is by no means a linear process, nor is it a brief one. Feedback from all constituents should be elicited throughout the process and used to make adjustments to the action plan as necessary. Constant monitoring during the entire implementation effort is important for its success and acceptance.

There are contradictory opinions about the status and future prospects of organizational development. Is it a theory whose time has come and gone? Does its basis in behavioral science, a "soft" science, make it unappealing? What are the challenges for the future?

An article by Bunker, Alban, and Lewicki proposes six areas that could revitalize the field of organizational development in the future: virtual teams, conflict resolution, work group effectiveness, social network analysis, trust, and intractable conflict. These authors suggest that focusing on these areas will help bridge the gap between research theory (i.e., academics) and practice (i.e., consultants). Getting these two groups to communicate with each other will benefit both groups and promote organizational development efforts.

In a survey conducted by Church, Waclawski, and Berr, twenty individuals involved in the study and practice of organizational development were questioned about their perspectives and predictions on the future of the field. 

The most in-demand services, according to those polled, are:
executive coaching and development
team building and team effectiveness
facilitating strategic organizational change
systemic integration
diversity and multiculturalism.

They list the daily challenges in the field as the need for speed, resistance to change, interpersonal skills and awareness, and differentiating organizational development, which refers to the variety of definitions of organizational development among practitioners and how this impacts consultants, clients, and the clients' needs.

The opinions on the future direction of the field vary among its practitioners. Nevertheless, the continuing interest in and value of optimizing an organization's needs and goals with the needs, wants, and personal satisfaction of its employees indicate that organizational development will continue to be relevant to and vital for organizational reform in the future, either in its present form or through evolution into other theories and practices.

Between 1950 and 2000 lot research work by eminent researchers has led to the development of organization development. There are 5 key inputs that have contributed to the genesis and development of OD. They are:
Laboratory Training
Action Research/Survey Framework
Normative Approaches
Quality of Work Life
Strategic Change

1. The first was the growth of the National Training Laboratories (NTL) and the training groups, which were also known as sensitivity training or T-groups.
2. The second was the classic work on action research that had been conducted by the social scientists. These social scientists were interested in applying research to manage change. Kurt Lewin was the person who instrumental in the development of action research and hence OD. We all have realized that change is the only constant. The only way to move forward positively is to learn to manage change. If there is a scientific way to manage change, then it should be leveraged, hence the development of OD. 
3. The third was the normative view of organization development. Essentially saying that there is only one best way to design and operate organizations.
4. The fourth input was the approach focusing on productivity and the quality of work life.
5. The fifth input was the development of strategic change and organization transformation.

Let us understand each one of these a little bit more in detail.
1 Laboratory Training Background
Laboratory training or the T-group is a small, unstructured group in which the participants learn from each other. They learn from their own interactions. They learn from the evolving dynamics about issues such as interpersonal relations, personal growth, leadership and group dynamics.
Essentially during the event the participants were provided feedback in private, but participants requested to be allowed to listen into the feedback being offered to others. Reluctantly the facilitators agreed. The experiment paid off with many potential benefits.
1. Feedback about group interaction was a rich learning experience
2. Process of group building had potential for learning that could be transferred to real life situations.

2 Action Research and Survey Feedback Background
During the research in 1940 it was learnt that research needed to be closely linked to action if organization members were to use it to manage change. A joint effort by organization members and social scientists was undertaken to collect data, analyze it and to devise and implement solutions. The result of action research was: members of organizations were able to use research on themselves to guide action and change; and social scientists were able to study the process to derive new knowledge that could be used elsewhere.

3 Normative Background
Primarily the belief here is that, there is one best way of managing organizations. Usually managements are either exploitative and authoritative; or benevolent and authoritative; or consultative; or participative group based. Organizations are such because their systems are designed in such a manner. Survey and research proved that the participative group method management is the best way of managing organizations. 

4 Productivity and Quality of Work-Life (QWL) Background
The first phase in this was development of work designs aimed at better integrating technology and people. Management unions got together to design work and the work designs created provided discretion, task variety and feedback about results. Perhaps the most distinguishing part of QWL programs was the discovery of self-managing work groups as a form of work design. These groups were composed of multi-skilled workers who were given the necessary autonomy and information to design and manage their own task performances. This worked well in the USA from 1950-1970 but as business evolved so did the competition. Organizations realized that the work practices in USA led to manufacturing of merchandise, but this merchandise was not able to compete with the low cost, high quality merchandise from other countries like Japan. Organizations realized that the systems used in Japan were different.

5 Strategic Change Background
Strategic change is focused on improving the alignment amongst organizations efforts. In other words the organization should think and communicate the same messages. These messages should be reinforced by appropriate actions. Here organizations chose to focus on businesses where they had core competencies. They moved out of businesses where they did not have core competencies. The business acquired was to ensure that there was a strategic fit. The latest example in India is the acquisition of a major stake in Reva Electric Car Company by the Mahindra group. The Mahindra group has been into the automotive segment for decades and wanted the electric capability to build hybrid cars. This it would get from Reva and hence the acquisition of a major stake.

6 The New Holistic Approach in Organization Development
In today’s dynamic business world, most organizations experience change on continuous basis and have come to a conclusion that change is a never ending process. As soon as one organizational problem is rectified, another one presents itself. The cycle therefore goes on despite the best efforts by the leaders and managers.

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