Organization Development: Science, Technology, or Philosophy?

Fundamentals of Organization Development

Edgar Schein

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  • It a great privilege to be asked to comment on the state of organization development. This is an area of activities with which I have been associated for the past 30 years, but I must admit at the outset that I still do not really understand it. The remarks I will make today are my personal observations and intuitions. I have not surveyed the field nor done careful historical research, so it some of my observations strike you as inaccurate, it is a product of my biases and a desire to be some-what provocative. This talk will be divided into several parts. First, some comments about where we have been and what we have become. These comments will have a critical flavor to them because I believe we have lost touch with some of our important roots. At the same time, our present status in the organizational world can only be marvelled at, when one sees how much activity occurs today under the broad umbrella of OD. Second, I would like to comment on where our confusion between science, technology, and philosophy may have led us astray. I would like to outline some of the forces that have been dysfunctional in that they have pushed OD into some activities that, in my opinion, will ultimately do us a disservice.

    Organization Development: Science, Technology, or Philosophy?’, EdgarH.ScheinMIT Sloan School of Management Working Paper, 1989 WP# 3065–89–BPS 1989. Reprinted with permission from the author.

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