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45247165 Management and Organization Development

45247165 Management and Organization Development

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Published by Elma V Muthu

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Published by: Elma V Muthu on Dec 16, 2011
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09/23/2012

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One of the most important foundations of organization development is a participation/

empowerment model. Participation in OD programs is not restricted to elites or the top people;

it is extended broadly throughout the organization. Increased participation and empowerment

have always been central goals and fundamental values of the field. These pillars of OD practice

are validated by both research and practice.

Research on group dynamics began in the 1940s and achieved exponential growth in the 1950s

and 1960s. This research demonstrated that most people desire increased involvement and

participation. Further, involvement and participation energize greater performance, produce

better solutions to problems, and greatly enhance acceptance of decisions. Researchers found

that group dynamics work to overcome resistance to change, increase commitment to the

organization, reduce stress levels, and generally make people feel better about themselves and

their worlds. Participation is a powerful elixir-it is good for people and performance.

To empower is to give someone power, which is done by giving individuals the authority to

make decisions, to contribute their ideas, to exert influence, and to be responsible.

Participation is an especially effective form of empowerment. Participation enhances

empowerment, and empowerment in turn enhances performance and individual well-being.

OD interventions are deliberately designed to increase involvement and participation by

organization leaders and members. For example, autonomous work groups, quality circles,

team building, survey feedback, quality of work life programs, search conferences, and the

culture audit are all predicated on the belief that increased participation will lead to better

solutions. Rules of thumb such as "Involve all those who are part of the problem or part of the

solution," and "Have decisions made by those who are closest to the problem," direct leaders

to push decision-making lower in the organization, treat those closest to the problem as the

relevant experts, and give more power to more people. OD interventions are basically methods

for increasing participation. The entire field of OD is about empowerment.

Robert Quinn and Gretchen Spreitzer found two vastly different views of empowerment. One

view, which they call "mechanistic," is a top-down delegation of decision-making with clear

boundaries and strict accountability that increases managerial control. The other view, called

"organic," is bottom-up and less controlling. They describe the organic view: "The other group

of executives saw empowerment much differently. They believed that it was about risk-taking,

growth, and change. Empowerment meant trusting people and tolerating their imperfections.

The most important contrast between the two views involves the implicit but potentially

volatile assumptions people make about trust and contro1." These authors believe the organic

view, with its emphasis on risk-taking, personal initiative, and growth, is the more useful

perspective. But both views contain valid ideas: for example, the organic approach unleashes

talent and energy in people that are best channeled by providing clear guidelines and

boundaries. Quinn and Spreitzer conclude:

Empowerment, then, is not something that management does to employees, but rather a

mind-set that employees have about their roles in the organization. While management can

create a context that is more empowering, employees must choose to be empowered. They

must see themselves as having freedom and discretion; they must if personally connected to

the organization, confident about their abilities, and capable of having an impact on the system

in which they are embedded.

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