Using Research to Guide an Organization Development Project

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Organization Development (OD) bridges an organization's need for continuity and its need for growth. It helps the organization change to meet the changing demands of its internal and external environments (Culbert & Reisel, 1971). A self-actualizing process for organizations, OD examines specific problems and conflicts in order to learn how to make fundamental, system-wide improvement in the organization. Although OD consultants prefer to help organizations grow, managers typically seek their help on immediate problems during times of crisis. Thus, the OD process usually begins with tension between the managers’ desires for a specific solution and the consultant's desires to understand the system-wide issues which managers have summarized in their definition of “the problem”. This paper illustrates how channeling the tension between the OD consultant and the manager can produce a deeper understanding of organizational problems and strategies for fundamental change. It begins with a description of this action-researcher's view of the tension and of the iterative strategy that most OD consultants incorporate in the problem-solving approaches they agree to try with managers. The body of the paper describes a case in which research was used to channel this tension and guide the OD project. The paper concludes with a…

Using Research to Guide an Organization Development Project’, SamuelA.CulbertThe Journal of Applied Behavioral Science, 8 (2) (1972): 203–236. Published by Sage Publications, Inc. Reprinted with permission.
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