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Organization Development

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Lesson 13
Professional Values
Values have played an important role in organization development from its beginning. Traditionally, OD
professionals have promoted a set of values under a humanistic framework, including a concern for inquiry
and science, democracy and being helpful. They have sought to build trust and collaboration; to create an
open, problem-solving climate; and to increase the self-control of organization members. More recently,
OD practitioners have extended those humanistic values to include a concern for improving organizational
effectiveness (for example, to increase productivity or to reduce turnover) and performance (for example,
to increase profitability). They have shown an increasing desire to optimize both human benefits and
production objectives.
We can gain some understanding of the values represented by OD by referring to sensitivity training. This
method of education and change has a humanistic value orientation, the belief that it is worthwhile to have
the opportunity throughout their lives to learn and develop personally toward a full realization and
actualization of individual potential.
Another OD value that came even more directly from sensitivity training is that people's feelings are just as
important a source of data for diagnosis and have as much implication for change as do facts or so-called
hard data and people's thoughts and opinions, and that these feelings should be considered as legitimate for
expression in the organization as any thought, fact, or opinion.
Yet another OD value stemming from sensitivity training is that conflict, whether interpersonal or inter-
group, should be brought to the surface and dealt with directly, rather than ignored, avoided, or
manipulated.
When sensitivity training was at the height of its popularity, two main value systems considered were: a
spirit of inquiry, and democracy.
The spirit of inquiry comes from the values of science. Two parts of it are relevant: the hypothetical spirit
­ being tentative checking on the validity of assumptions, and allowing for errors; and experimentation ­
putting ideas or assumptions to the test. In sensitive training, "all experienced behavior is subjected to
questioning and examination, limited only by the threshold of tolerance to truth and new ideas".
The second main value system, the democratic value has two elements: collaboration, and conflict
resolution through rational means. The learning process in sensitivity training is collaborative between
participant and trainer, not a traditional authoritarian student-teacher relationship. By conflict resolution
through rational means, it is meant that irrational behavior or emotion was off limits, but "that there is a
problem-solving orientation to conflict rather than the more traditional approaches based on bargains,
power plays, suppression, or compromise".
More recently, OD practitioners have extended those humanistic values to include a concern for:
improving organizational effectiveness (for example, to increase productivity or to reduce turnover), and
improving performance (for example, to increase profitability).
They have shown an increasing desire to optimize both human benefits and production objectives.
It is painfully obvious that most organizations treat their most valued resources ­ employees ­ as if they
were expendable. The all-too-frequent attitude among managers is, "If our employees don't like the jobs we
provide, they can find employment elsewhere, we pay them a fair wage and they receive excellent fringe
benefits." In the name of efficiency and economic or top management pressure, some people in
organizations may be bored, some may be discriminated against, and many may be treated unfairly or
inequitably regarding their talent and performance. If OD helps correct these imbalances, it is long
overdue, but what about the organization? If it doesn't survive, there will be no jobs, no imbalances to
correct. Of the two words, represented by OD, Practitioners have spent more time on development than
on organization. They are equally important; however, if either is out of balance, the OD consultant's goal
is to redress the imbalance.
OD's right goal grows from its proper setting. If the proper setting is organizations, then there is only one
right goal for OD, i.e. to confront an issue that is the tension between freedom and constraint. OD's right
purpose is to redress the balance between freedom and constraint.
There is always tension between the two ­ the autonomy of the individual and the requirements of the
organization. It is practically impossible to determine the proper balance but, when either factor is
obviously out of balance, the OD consultant's goal is to work toward reducing the heavier side.
The joint values of humanizing organizations and improving their effectiveness have received widespread
support in the OD profession as well as increasing encouragement from managers, employees, and union
officials. Indeed, it would be difficult not to support those joint concerns. But in practice OD professionals
face serious challenges in simultaneously pursuing greater humanism and organizational effectiveness. More
practitioners are experiencing situations in which there is conflict between employees' needs for greater
meaning and the organization's need for more effective and efficient use of its resources. For example,
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expensive capital equipment may run most efficiently if it is highly programmed and routinized, but people
may not derive satisfaction from working with such technology. Should efficiency be maximized at the
expense of people's satisfaction? Can technology be changed to make it more humanly satisfying while
remaining efficient? What compromises are possible? How do these tradeoffs shift when they are applied in
different social cultures? These are the value dilemmas often faced when we try to optimize both human
benefits and organizational effectiveness.
In addition to value issues within organizations, OD practitioners are dealing more and more with value
conflicts with powerful outside groups. Organizations are open systems and exist within increasingly
turbulent environments. For example, hospitals are facing complex and changing task environments. This
has led to a proliferation of external stakeholders with interests in the organization's functioning, including
patients, suppliers, medical groups, insurance companies, employers, the government, stockholders, unions,
the press, and various interest groups. Those external groups often have different and competing values for
judging the organization's effectiveness. For example, stockholders may judge the firm in terms of earnings
per share, the government in terms of compliance with equal employment opportunity legislation, patients
in terms of quality of care, and ecology groups in terms of hazardous waste disposal. Because organizations
must rely on these external groups for resources and legitimacy, they cannot simply ignore these competing
values. They must somehow respond to them and try to reconcile the different interests.
Recent attempts to help firms manage external relationships suggest the need for new interventions and
competence in OD. Practitioners must have not only social skills but also political skills. They must un-
derstand the distribution of power, conflicts of interest, and value dilemmas inherent in managing external
relationships and be able to manage their own role and values with respect to those dynamics,
Interventions promoting collaboration and system maintenance may he ineffective in this larger arena,
especially when there are power and dominance relationships among organizations and competition for
scarce resources. Under those conditions, OD practitioners may need more power-oriented interventions,
such as bargaining, coalition forming, and pressure tactics.
For example, firms in the tobacco industry have waged an aggressive campaign against the efforts of
external groups, such as the ILS. Surgeon general, the American Lung Association, and local governments,
to limit or ban the smoking of tobacco products. They have formed a powerful industry coalition to lobby
against antismoking legislation; they have spent enormous sums of money advertising tobacco products,
conducting public relations campaigns, and refuting research purportedly showing the dangers of smoking.
Such power-oriented strategies are intended to manage an increasingly hostile environment and may be
necessary for the industry's survival.
People practicing OD in such settings may need to help organizations implement such strategies if
organizations are to manage their environments effectively. That effort will require political skills and
greater attention to how the OD practitioner's own values fit with those of the organization.
Professional Ethics:
Ethical issues in OD are concerned with how practitioners perform their helping relationship with
organization members. Inherent in any helping relationship is the potential for misconduct and client
abuse. OD practitioners can let personal values stand in the way of good practice or use the power inherent
in their professional role to abuse (often unintentionally) organization members.
Ethical Guidelines:
To its credit, the field of OD always has shown concern for the ethical conduct of its practitioners. There
have been several articles and symposia about ethics in OD. In addition, statements of ethics governing
OD practice have been sponsored by the Organization Development Institute, the American Society for
Training & Development, and a consortium of professional associations in OD. The consortium has jointly
sponsored an ethical code derived from a large-scale project conducted at the Center for the Study of
Ethics in the Professions at the Illinois Institute of Technology- The project's purposes included preparing
critical incidents describing ethical dilemmas and using that material for professional and continuing
education in OD, providing an empirical basis for a statement of values and ethics for OD professionals,
and initiating a process for making the ethics of OD practice explicit on a continuing basis. The ethical
guidelines from that project appear in the appendix to this chapter.
Ethical Dilemmas:
Although adherence to statements of ethics helps prevent the occurrence of ethical problems, OD
practitioners still can encounter ethical dilemmas. Figure 17 is a process model that explains how ethical
dilemmas can occur in OD. The antecedent conditions include an OD practitioner and a client system with
different goals, values, needs, skills, and abilities. During the entry and contracting phase these differences
may or may not be addressed and clarified. If the contracting process is incomplete, the subsequent
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intervention process or role episode is subject to role conflict and role ambiguity. Neither the client nor the
OD practitioner is clear about respective responsibilities. Each party is pursuing different goals, and each is
using different skills and values to achieve those goals. The role conflict and ambiguity may produce five
types of ethical dilemmas: misrepresentation, misuse of data, coercion, value and goal conflict, and
technical ineptness.
Figure: 17
Misrepresentation: Misrepresentation occurs when OD practitioners claim that an intervention will
produce results that are unreasonable for the change program or the situation. The client can contribute to
the problem by portraying inaccurate goals and needs. In either case, one or both parties are operating
under false pretenses and an ethical dilemma exists. For example, in an infamous case called "The
Undercover Change Agent." an attempt was made to use laboratory training in an organization whose top
management did not understand it and was not ready for it. The OD consultant sold T-groups as the
intervention that would solve the problems facing the organization. After the president of the firm made a
surprise visit to the site where the training was being held, the consultant was fired because the nature and
style of the T-group was in direct contradiction to the president's concepts about leadership.
Misrepresentation is likely to occur in the entering and contracting phases of planned change when the
initial consulting relationship is being established- To prevent misrepresentation, OD practitioners need to
gain clarity about the goals of the change effort and to explore openly with the client its expected effects, its
relevance to the client system, and the practitioner's competence in executing the intervention.
Misuse of Data: Misuse of data occurs when information gathered during the OD process is used
punitively. Large amounts of information are invariably obtained during the entry and diagnostic phases of
OD. Although most OD practitioners value openness and trust, it is important that they be aware of how
such data are going to be used. It is a human tendency to use data to enhance a power position. Openness
is one thing, but leaking inappropriate information can be harmful to individuals and to the organization. It
is easy for a consultant, under the guise of obtaining information, to gather data about whether a particular
manager is good or bad. When, how, or if this information can be used is an ethical dilemma not easily
resolved. To minimize misuse of data, practitioners should reach agreement up front with organization
members about how data collected during the change process will be used. This agreement should be
reviewed periodically in light of changing circumstances.
Coercion: Coercion occurs when organization members are forced to participate in an OD intervention.
People should have the freedom to choose whether to participate in a change program if they are to gain
self-reliance to solve their own problems. In team building, for example, team members should have the
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option of deciding not to become involved in the intervention. Management should not decide unilaterally
that team building is good for members. However, freedom to make a choice requires knowledge about
OD. Many organization members have little information about OD interventions, what they involve, and
the nature and consequences of becoming involved with them. This makes it imperative for OD
practitioners to educate clients about interventions before choices are made for implementing them.
Coercion also can pose ethical dilemmas for the helping relationship between OD practitioners and
organization members. Inherent in any helping relationship are possibilities for excessive manipulation and
dependency, two facets of coercion. Kelman pointed out that behavior change "inevitably involves some
degree of manipulation and control, and at least an implicit imposition of the change agent's values on the
client or the person he [or she] is influencing." This places the practitioner on two horns of a dilemma: (1)
any attempt to change is in itself a change and thereby a manipulation, no matter how slight, and (2) there
exists no formula or method to structure a change situation so that such manipulation can be totally absent.
To attack the first aspect of the dilemma, Kelman stressed freedom of choice, seeing any action that limits
freedom of choice as being ethically ambiguous or worse. To address the second aspect, Kelman argued
that the 00 practitioner must remain keenly aware of her or his own value system and alert to the possibility
that those values are being imposed on a client. In other words, an effective way to resolve this dilemma is
to make the change effort as open as possible, with the free consent and knowledge of the individuals
involved.
The second facet of coercion that can pose ethical dilemmas for the helping relationship involves
dependency. Helping relationships invariably create dependency between those who need help and those
who provide it, A major goal in OD is to lessen clients' dependency on consultants by helping clients gain
the knowledge and skills to address organizational problems and manage change themselves. In some cases,
however, achieving independence from OD practitioners can result in clients being either counter
dependent or over dependent, especially in the early stages of the relationship. To resolve dependency
issues, consultants can openly and explicitly discuss with the client how to handle the dependency problem,
especially what the client and consultant expect of one another. Another approach is to focus on problem
finding. Usually, the client is looking for a solution to a perceived problem. The consultant can redirect the
energy to improved joint diagnosis so that both are working on problem identification and problem
solving. Such action moves the energy of the client away from dependency. Finally, dependency can be
reduced by changing the client's expectation from being helped or controlled by the practitioner to a greater
focus on the need to manage the problem. Such a refocusing can reinforce the understanding that the
consultant is working for the client and offering assistance that is at the client's discretion.
Value and Goal Conflict: This ethical conflict occurs when the purpose of the change effort is not clear
or when the client and the practitioner disagree over how to achieve the goals. The important practical
issue for OD consultants is whether it is justifiable to withhold services unilaterally from an organization
that does not agree with their values or methods. OD pioneer Gordon Lippitt suggested that the real
question is the following: assuming that some kind of change is going to occur anyway, doesn't the con-
sultant have a responsibility to try to guide the change in the most constructive fashion possible? That
question may be of greater importance and relevance to an internal consultant or to a consultant who
already has an ongoing relationship with the client.
Argyris takes an even stronger stand, maintaining that the responsibilities of professional OD practitioners
to clients are comparable to those of lawyers or physicians, who, in principle, may not refuse to perform
their services. He suggests that the very least the consultant can do is to provide "first aid" to the
organization, as long as the assistance does not compromise the consultant's values. Argyris suggests that if
the Ku Klux Klan asked for assistance and the consultant could at least determine whether the KKK was
genuinely interested in assessing itself and willing to commit itself to all that a valid assessment would entail
concerning both itself and other groups, the consultant should be willing to help. If later the Klan's
objectives proved to be less than honestly stated, the consultant would be free to withdraw without being
compromised.
Technical Ineptness: This final ethical dilemma occurs when OD practitioners try to implement inter-
ventions for which they are not skilled or when the client attempts a change for which it is not ready.
Critical to the success of any OD program is the selection of an appropriate intervention, which depends,
in turn, on careful diagnosis of the organization. Selecting an intervention is closely related to the
practitioner's own values, skills, and abilities. In solving organizational problems, many OD consultants
emphasize a favorite intervention or technique, such as team building, total quality management, or self-
managed teams. They let their own values and beliefs dictate the change method, Technical ineptness
dilemmas also can occur when interventions do not align with the ability of the organization to implement
them. Again, careful diagnosis can reveal the extent to which the organization is ready to make a change
and possesses the skills and knowledge to implement an ethical dilemma that arises frequently in OD con-
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sulting. What points in the process represent practical opportunities to intervene? Do you agree with
Kindred's resolution to the problem? What other options did she have?
Table of Contents:
  1. The Challenge for Organizations:The Growth and Relevance of OD
  2. OD: A Unique Change Strategy:OD consultants utilize a behavioral science base
  3. What an “ideal” effective, healthy organization would look like?:
  4. The Evolution of OD:Laboratory Training, Likert Scale, Scoring and analysis,
  5. The Evolution of OD:Participative Management, Quality of Work Life, Strategic Change
  6. The Organization Culture:Adjustment to Cultural Norms, Psychological Contracts
  7. The Nature of Planned Change:Lewin’s Change Model, Case Example: British Airways
  8. Action Research Model:Termination of the OD Effort, Phases not Steps
  9. General Model of Planned Change:Entering and Contracting, Magnitude of Change
  10. The Organization Development Practitioner:External and Internal Practitioners
  11. Creating a Climate for Change:The Stabilizer Style, The Analyzer Style
  12. OD Practitioner Skills and Activities:Consultant’s Abilities, Marginality
  13. Professional Values:Professional Ethics, Ethical Dilemmas, Technical Ineptness
  14. Entering and Contracting:Clarifying the Organizational Issue, Selecting an OD Practitioner
  15. Diagnosing Organizations:The Process, The Performance Gap, The Interview Data
  16. Organization as Open Systems:Equifinality, Diagnosing Organizational Systems
  17. Diagnosing Organizations:Outputs, Alignment, Analysis
  18. Diagnosing Groups and Jobs:Design Components, Outputs
  19. Diagnosing Groups and Jobs:Design Components, Fits
  20. Collecting and Analyzing Diagnostic information:Methods for Collecting Data, Observations
  21. Collecting and Analyzing Diagnostic information:Sampling, The Analysis of Data
  22. Designing Interventions:Readiness for Change, Techno-structural Interventions
  23. Leading and Managing Change:Motivating Change, The Life Cycle of Resistance to Change
  24. Leading and managing change:Describing the Core Ideology, Commitment Planning
  25. Evaluating and Institutionalizing Organization Development Interventions:Measurement
  26. Evaluating and Institutionalizing Organization Development Interventions:Research Design
  27. Evaluating and Institutionalizing Organization Development Interventions
  28. Interpersonal and Group Process Approaches:Group Process
  29. Interpersonal and Group Process Approaches:Leadership and Authority, Group Interventions
  30. Interpersonal and Group Process Approaches:Third-Party Interventions
  31. Interpersonal and Group Process Approaches:Team Building, Team Building Process
  32. Interpersonal and Group Process Approaches:Team Management Styles
  33. Organization Process Approaches:Application Stages, Microcosm Groups
  34. Restructuring Organizations:Structural Design, Process-Based Structures
  35. Restructuring Organizations:Downsizing, Application Stages, Reengineering
  36. Employee Involvement:Parallel Structures, Multiple-level committees
  37. Employee Involvement:Quality Circles, Total Quality Management
  38. Work Design:The Engineering Approach, Individual Differences, Vertical Loading
  39. Performance Management:Goal Setting, Management by Objectives, Criticism of MBO
  40. Developing and Assisting Members:Career Stages, Career Planning, Job Pathing
  41. Developing and Assisting Members:Culture and Values, Employee Assistance Programs
  42. Organization and Environment Relationships:Environmental Dimensions, Administrative Responses
  43. Organization Transformation:Sharing the Vision, Three kinds of Interventions
  44. The Behavioral Approach:The Deep Assumptions Approach
  45. Seven Practices of Successful Organizations:Training, Sharing Information