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Psy 428 - Organizational Development - Organizational Psychology

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Organizational Development

PSY/428 Organizational Psychology

August 15, 2011

Organizational Dev 2

Organizational development is a process by which organizations use the theories and technology of the behavioral sciences to facilitate changes that enhance their effectiveness. Many organizations seek to change simply to be able to survive. If they don't change, they'll go out of business. Organizations, however, may also change for more proactive reasons. Organizational development has been defined in a variety of ways, by a number of authors (French & Bell, 1995; Porras & Robertson, 1992).

"Organizational development is a set of behavioral science-based theories, values, strategies, and technologies aimed at planned change of the organizational work setting for the purpose of enhancing individual development and improving organizational performance, through the alteration of organizational members' on-the-job behaviors" (p. 722). The focus of organizational development is facilitating organizational changes that enhance both organizational performance and individual development. Therefore, organizational development is different from approaches to organizational change, which is based solely on changes in manufacturing technology or, perhaps, information systems. It is true, however, that organizational development can assist in the implementation of changes in manufacturing or information technology (e.g., Barrett, Grant, & Wailes, 2005; Davidson, 2006).

One of the most common motivating factors behind organizational-development programs can best be described as survival. The motivating force behind this program was actually quite simple. Prior to the program, this organization (like others in that industry) operated in a very stable, regulated environment. Another powerful motivator of change is poor organizational performance. When an organization fails to show a profit over an extended period of time, or sees its market share being steadily eroded, it will often facilitate organizational change. The desire for survival is often the motivating factor behind many organizational-development programs, but there are certainly other factors as well. In some cases, relatively effective organizations will engage in programs of planned change, and they could do so for a variety of reasons. For example, an effective organization may engage in change for strategic reasons (e.g., Buller, 1988).

Organizational Dev 3

An organization that competes primarily on the basis of product quality may decide that it wants to put greater emphasis on customer service. Some organizations may simply anticipate changes in the external environment and proactively respond to those changes. A final reason for organizations' engaging in programs of planned change can simply be described as self-improvement; that is, no external pressure for change exists, and there are no concrete strategic reasons for changing. The oldest theory of the organizational-change process is referred to as Lewin's Three-Step Model (Lewin, 1947).

Lewin used a physical metaphor to explain the process by which social systems change. Like organizational design, organizational change is a highly abstract process that cannot be readily simulated or modeled in a laboratory setting. Many factors described earlier as motivators of organizational change (e.g., loss in profits, major environmental changes) would qualify as unfreezing events. That is, if an organization is unprofitable or faces dramatic changes in



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