OD: Definitions and Values

19 August 2007


Part 1: OD Definitions


Defining OD
Organization Development is an effort (1) planned, (2) organization-wide, (3) managed from the top, to (4) increase organization effectiveness and health through planned interventions in the organization’s “process” using behavioral-science knowledge. [Beckhard, 1969]


Defining OD
Organization development (OD) is a response to change, a complex education strategy intended to change the beliefs, attitudes, values and structures of organizations so they can better adapt to new technologies, markets, and challenges and the dizzying rate of change itself [Bennis, 1969]

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Defining OD
OD can be defined as a planned and sustained effort to apply behavioral science for system improvement, using reflexive, selfanalytic methods. [Schmuck and Miles, 1971]


Defining OD
[The aims of OD are]...(1) enhancing congruence between organizational structure, process, strategy, people, and culture; (2) developing new and creative organizational solutions; and (3) developing the organization’s self-renewing capacity. [Beer, 1980]


Defining OD
Organization development is an organizational process for understanding and improving any and all substantive processes an organization may develop for performing any task and pursuing any objects [Vaill, 1989]


Defining OD
[OD is]...a systematic application of behavioral science knowledge to the planned development and reinforcement of organizational strategies, structures, and processes for improving an organization’s effectiveness. [Cummings and Worley, 1993]

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Defining OD
Organization development is a planned process of change in an organization’s culture through the utilization of behavior science technologies, research, and theory. [Burke, 1994]


Defining OD
Is the process for teaching people how to solve problems, take advantage of opportunities, and to learn how to do that better over time. [French and Bell, 1999]


1. Based on the eight definitions presented, which one do you think applies to the best for organizations in Afghanistan? 2. Why do you think that definition applies best to organizations in Afghanistan?


Part 11: OD Values

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Defining beliefs
A belief is a proposition about how the world works that the individual accepts as true; it is a cognitive fact for the person.


Defining values
A value is also a belief, and is defined as: “beliefs about what is desirable and ‘good’ (e.g. free speech) and what is an undesirable or a ‘bad’ (e.g. dishonesty).


Defining assumptions
Assumptions are beliefs that are regarded as so valuable and obviously correct that they are taken for granted and rarely examined or questioned.


OD Values

May be thought of as humanistic, optimistic, and democratic.

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OD Values
Humanistic values proclaim the importance of the individual: respect the whole person, treat people with respect and dignity, assume that everyone has intrinsic worth, view all people as having the potential for growth and development.


OD Values
Optimistic values posit that people are basically good, that progress is possible, and desirable in human affairs, and that rationality, reason, and good will are the tools for making progress.


OD Values
Democratic values assert the sanctity of the individual, the right of people to be free from arbitrary misuse of power, the importance of fair and equitable treatment for all, and the need for justice through the rule of law and due process.


1. OD has at its core three values, humanism, optimism, and democracy. Based on Saturday’s lecture on national culture, do you think these values apply in Afghanistan? Why or why not? 2. Develop a list of three values that you think may improve the application of OD in organization based in Afghanistan.

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