Sunday, January 13, 2008

Organisational Development

Organisational Development


By Ernest Edgar Maigurira PhD (Psyh)

Organisational Development is a soft methodology intended for use in complex situations to provide intervention strategy for change management. It approaches this from the perspective of individual and organisational inquiry. It adopts a systems approach by identifying a set of organisational entities which have functions the interactive effects of which require that the system is stable. In order to deal with complex situations, it conceptualises that they should be seen in terms of power relationships, control processes, and innate resistance to change, all of which must be addressed through addressing both individuals and the culture to which they belong.

1 Introduction

“OD was conceived as...a strategy for large-scale cultural and/or systemic change...[that] depends on many people accepting the need for change...[and] until recently, was based on diagnosing gaps between what is and what ought to be” [Weisbord and Janoff, 1996].

Relating to the Action Research paradigm, Organisational Development (OD) is a consultant orientated people-centred and thus soft methodology. It is concerned with intervention into problem situations to achieve change management through individuals and their relationships. It arose from behavioural psychology, applying concepts to management that were formulated from a programme run by Pugh and Hickson, and has developed with work from people like Argyris [1970], Kotter and Schlesinger [1979], and Huse and Cummings [1985]. Schein [1970] defined OD consultants as facilitators who assisted organisations to improve their inherent capacity to cope with problem situations by helping them to:

· diagnose themselves,

· select their own responses,

· Determine their own progress.

Its intended use is “to articulate a mode of organisational consultancy that paralleled the client-centred approach in counselling and contrasted with consultancy models that were centred on expertise” [Coghlan, 1993, p117]. However, at its broadest, OD is concerned with “boundaries and relationships at a number of different levels between enterprises, their stakeholders and society, and the way in which these relationships could change over time” [Pritchard, 1993, p132].

Harrison, in his discussion of traditional OD, explains that consultants involved with this methodology tend to assume that organisations are most effective when they “reduce power differences, foster open communication, encourage cooperation and solidarity, and adopt policies that enhance the potential of employees” [Harrison, 1994, p8]. To help assist organisational forms and cultures towards this ideal, consultants often use experienced small group training, feedback on interpersonal processes, participative decision making, and build on strong cohesive organisational culture.

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