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Organization Development

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Lesson 04
The Evolution of OD
A brief history of OD will help to clarify the evolution of the term as well as some of the problems and
confusion that have surrounded it. As currently practiced, OD emerged from five major stems, as shown
below. The first was the growth of the National Training Laboratories (NTL) and the development of
training groups, otherwise known as sensitivity training or T-groups, The second stem of OD was the
classic work on action research conducted by social scientists interested in applying research to managing
change. An important feature of action research was a technique known as survey feedback. Kurt Lewin, a
prolific theorist, researcher, and practitioner in group dynamics and social change, was instrumental in the
development of T-groups, survey feedback, and action research. His work led to the creation of OD and
still serves as a major source of its concepts and methods. The third stem represents the application of
participative management to organization structure and design. The fourth stem is the approach focusing
on productivity and the quality of work life. The fifth stem of OD, and the most recent influence on
current practice, involves strategic change and organization transformation.
Figure: 03
1. Laboratory Training (The T-Group):
This stem of OD pioneered laboratory training, or the T-group ­ a small, unstructured group in which
participants learn from their own interactions and evolving dynamics about such issues as interpersonal
relations, personal growth, leadership, and group dynamics. Essentially, laboratory training began in 1946,
when Kurt Lewin, (1898 ­ 1947, a prolific theorist, researcher, and practitioner in interpersonal, group,
intergroup, and community relationships) widely recognized as the founding father of OD, although he
died before the concept became current in the mid-1950s, and his staff at the Research Centre for Group
Dynamics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) were asked by the Connecticut Interracial
Commission for help on research in training community leaders. A workshop was developed, and the
community leaders were brought together to learn about leadership and to discuss problems. At the end of
each day, the researchers discussed privately what behaviors and group dynamics they had observed. The
community leaders asked permission to sit in on these feedback sessions. Reluctant at first, the researchers
finally agreed. Thus, the first T-group was formed in which people reacted to data about their own
behavior. The researchers drew two conclusions about the first T-group experiment:
Feedback about group interaction was a rich learning experience, and
The process of "group building" had potential for learning that could be transferred to "back-home"
situations.
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As a result of this experience, the Office of Naval Research and the National Education Association
provided financial backing to form the National Training Laboratories (NTL), and Gould Academy in
Bethel, Maine, was selected as a site for further work (since the, Bethel has played an important part in
NTL). The first Basic Skill Training Groups (later called T-groups) were offered in 1947. The program was
so successful that out of Bethel experiences and NTL grew a significant number of laboratory training
centers sponsored by universities.
In the 1950s, three trends emerged:
The emergence of regional laboratories,
The expansion of year-round sessions of T-groups, and
The expansion of the T-group into business and industry, with NTL members becoming increasingly
involved with industry programs.
Over the next decade, as trainers began to work with social systems of more permanency and complexity
then T-groups, they began to experience considerable frustration in the transfer of laboratory behavioral
skills and insights of individuals into the solution of problems in organizations. Personal skills learned in
the T-group settings were very difficult to transfer to complex organizations. However, the training of
"teams" from the same organization had emerged early at Bethel and undoubtedly was a link to the total
organizational focus of Douglas McGregor, Herbert Shepard, and Robert Blake, and subsequently the
focus of Richard Beckhard, Chris Argyris, Jack Gibb, Warren Bennis, and others. All had been T-group
trainers in NTL programs.
Applying T-group techniques to organizations gradually became known as team building ­ a process for
helping work groups become more effective in accomplishing tasks and satisfying member needs.
2. Action Research/Survey Feedback:
Kurt Lewin also was involved in the second movement that led to OD's emergence as a practical field of
social science. This second stem refers to the processes of action research and survey feedback. The action
research contribution began in the 1940s with studies conducted by social scientists John Collier, Kurt
Lewin, and William Whyte. They discovered that research needed to be closely linked to action if
organization members were to use it to manage change. A collaborative effort was initiated between
organization members and social scientists to collect research data about an organization's functioning, to
analyze it for causes of problems, and to devise and implement solutions. After implementation, further
data were collected to assess the results, and the cycle of data collection and action often continued. The
results of action research were twofold: members of organizations were able to use research on themselves
to guide action and change, and social scientists were able to study that process to derive new knowledge
that could be used elsewhere.
Among the pioneering action research studies was the work of Lewin at a Manufacturing Co. (Harwood
Manufacturing Company) and the classic research by Lester Coch and John French on overcoming
resistance to change. The latter study led to the development of participative management as a means of
getting employees involved in planning and managing change. Other notable action research contributions
included Whyte and Edith Hamilton's famous study of Chicago's Tremont Hotel and Collier's efforts to
apply action research techniques to improving race relations when he was commissioner of Indian affairs
from 1933 to 1945. These studies did much to establish action research as integral to organization change.
Today, it is the backbone of most OD applications.
A key component of most action research studies was the systematic collection of survey data that was fed
back to the client organization. Following Lewin's death in 1947, his Research Center for Group Dynamics
at MIT moved to Michigan and joined with the Survey Research Center as part of the Institute doe Social
Research. The Institute was headed by Renis Likert, a pioneer in developing scientific approaches to
attitude surveys. Likert's doctoral dissertation at Columbia University, "A Technique for the Measurement
of Attitudes," was the classic study in which he developed the widely used, five-point "Likert Scale."
In an early study by the institute, Likert and Floyd Mann administered a companywide survey of
management and employee attitudes at Detroit Edison. Over a two-year period beginning in 1948, three
sets of data were developed: (1) the viewpoints of eight thousand non-supervisory employees about their
supervisors, promotion opportunities, and work satisfaction with fellow employees; (2) similar reactions
from first- and second-line supervisors; and (3) information from higher levels of management.
The feedback process that evolved was an "interlocking chain of conferences." The major findings of the
survey were first reported to the top management and then transmitted throughout the organization. The
feedback sessions were conducted in task groups, with supervisors and their immediate subordinates
discussing the data together. Although there was little substantial research evidence, the researchers
intuitively felt that this was a powerful process for change.
In 1950, eight accounting departments asked for a repeat of the survey, thus generating a new cycle of
feedback meetings. In four departments, feedback approaches were used, but the method varied, with two
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of the remaining departments receiving feedback only at the departmental level. Because of changes in key
personnel, nothing was done in two departments.
A third follow-up study indicated that more significant and positive changes, such as job satisfaction, had
occurred in the departments receiving feedback than in the two departments that did not practice. From
those findings, Likert and Mann derived several conclusions about the effects of survey feedback on
organization change. This led to extensive applications of survey-feedback methods in a variety of settings.
The common pattern of data collection, data feedback, action planning, implementation, and follow-up
data collection in both action research and survey feedback can be seen in these examples.
Part of the emergence of survey research and feedback was based on the refinements made by SRC (Survey
Research Center of Michigan) staff members in survey methodology. Another part was the evolution of
feedback methodology.
Likert Scale:
Likert scale is often used in questionnaires, and is the most widely used scale in survey research. When
responding to a Likert questionnaire item, respondents specify their level of agreement to a statement.
A typical test item in a Likert scale is a statement. The respondent is asked to indicate his or her degree of
agreement with the statement or any kind of subjective or objective evaluation of the statement.
Traditionally a five-point scale is used, however many advocate using a seven or nine point scale.
Ice cream is good for breakfast:
Strongly disagree
o
Disagree
o
Neither agree nor disagree
o
Agree
o
Strongly agree
o
Scoring and analysis:
After the questionnaire is completed, each item may be analyzed separately or item responses may be
summed to create a score for a group of items.
Results of Action Research/Survey Feedback:
Likert, along with some of his colleagues, while doing a company-wide study of employee perceptions,
behavior, reactions and attitudes found that:
When the survey data were reported to a manager (or supervisor) and he or she failed to discus the results
with subordinates and failed to plan with them what the managers and others should do to bring
improvement, little change occurred.
On the other hand, when the manager discussed the results with subordinates and planned with them what
to do to bring improvement, substantial favorable changes occurred.
Another aspect of the study was the process of feeding back data from an attitude survey to the
participating departments had more positive change in business organizations than that coming from
traditional training courses.
The effectiveness of this method is that it deals with the system of human relationships as a whole
(supervisors and subordinates can change together) and it deals with each manager, supervisor, and
employee in the context of his job, his own position, and his own work relationship.
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