Three Models of Organizational Development

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This article shows the effectiveness of Organizational Development models in order with the example. In this article we have discuss the comparison of three OD models mentioning their effectiveness in order with example.

We live in a world that has been turned upside down. Companies are pouring money, technology, and management expertise into regions that were once off limits, acquiring new enterprises, forming joint ventures, creating new global businesses from the ground up. Many major companies are going through significant changes, including outsourcing, downsizing, reengineering, self-managed work teams, flattening organizations, and doing routine jobs with automation and computers.

Change is avalanching down upon our heads and most people are utterly unprepared to cope with it. Tomorrow’s world will be different from todays, calling for new organizational approaches. Organizations will need to be adapting to these changes market conditions and at the same time coping with the need for a renewing rather than reactive workforce.

Organizations are never completely static. They are in continuous interaction with external forces i.e. Government, Stockholders, Unions, Competitors, Suppliers, and Customers etc. Changing consumer lifestyles and technological breakthroughs all act on the organization to cause it to change. The degree of change may vary from one organization to another, but all face the need for adaptation to external forces. Many of these changes are forced upon the organization, whereas others are generated internally. Because change is occurring so rapidly, there is a need for new ways to manage it.

Organizational Development is a relatively recent invention. It started in the late 1950s when behavioral scientists steeped in the lore and technology of group dynamics attempted to apply that knowledge to improve team functioning and intergroup relations in organization. (French and Bell, 1999).

Organizational development (OD) is an application of behavioral science to organizational change. It consists of a wide array of theories, processes, and activities, all of which are oriented toward the goal of improving individual organizations. OD focuses on carefully planned approaches to changing or improving organizational structures and processes, in an attempt maximize organizational effectiveness.

Background of Study

In present era of cut throat competition, globalization, erasing trade barriers, rapid innovation, advancement in new technology, reduction in product life cycle and huge investment requirements to get entry into industry increase the essence of formulating an effective strategy in an organization in order to gain a competitive edge in market place. It is utmost important for each and every organization to be consistently competitive at the market place in order to save organization from entropy and make it possible for organization to constantly grow through application of Organizational Development concepts. Strategy is a comprehensive plan to achieve organizational goals or strategy is a comprehensive master plan stating how the corporation/organization will achieve its mission and objectives. It is not only important for any firm to develop an effective organizational strategy but also proper implementation and control mechanism is very crucial for success. Organization strategy is the one of element among various elements that may require OD interventions if not effective. According to Burke-Litwin model, organization may require first order or second order change or may require both(First order and Second order changes). If OD interventions directed toward structure, systems, and management practice result in first order change, if interventions directed toward mission, strategy, leadership, and organizational culture then result in second order change (French and Bell, Jr, 1999).

Companies today are exposed to much more rapid changes than they were decades ago. This development provides the reason to analyze approaches that help to overcome inflexible, conservatively-managed companies and lead change initiatives successfully. (Kotter, 1996).

Organizational Development is planned change in an organizational context. The development of models of planned change facilitated the development of OD. Models and theories depict, in words or pictures, the important features of some phenomenon, describe those features as variables, and specify the relationships among the variables. (French and Bell, 1999).

Corporate restructuring, strategies, and development models may be based on various factors viz. Human Resource Management, Financial revamping, International competitive market, post merger and acquisition etc. The globalization, commercialization, privatization, and deregulation have changed the whole scenario as such change has become significant factor in business survival. This has brought far-reaching changes in economic structures and patterns of organizations. The OD is getting increasing attention as such it plays a key role in the description of recent developments. The institutions private or public now realize the recent trends and prospects and have started giving priority to OD. These organizations now adapt and act OD at their workplace by redefining its role in promoting efficiency and economic growth. The organizations, particularly those without strong change element are in favor of encouraging the vigorous growth of OD in corporate governance. The organizations they do not undertake measures to enhance their capabilities through planned change by employing OD risk not just being marginalized but also being completely bypassed in the new global order. The organizations those face severe competition today are completely dependent on behavioral interventions for organization improvement.

Conceptual Understanding of the Organizational Development

Organizational 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).

Organizational development is a theory and practice of bringing the planned change to organization. These changes are usually designed to address an organization problem or to help an organization prepare for future. It is the one method of quickly bringing change, which focus on human and social aspects of the organization as a way to improve organization’s ability to adapt and solve problems.

Organizational development is both a professional field of social action and an area of scientific inquiry. The practice of OD covers a wide spectrum of activities, with seemingly endless variations upon them. Team building with top corporate management, structural change in a municipality, and job enrichment in a manufacturing firm are all examples of OD. (Cummings and Worley, 2005).

Different theorists have provided with their own definitions of organizational development. Some definitions are :



Porras and Robertson (1992)

Organizational development is a set of behavioral science-based theories, values, strategies, and techniques aimed at the planned change of the organizational work setting for the purpose of enhancing individual development and improving organizational performance, through the alteration of organizational members’ on-the-job behaviors.

Cummings and Worley (1993)

[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.

Burke (1994)

Organizational development is planned process of change in an organization’s culture through the utilization of behavioral science technologies, research, and theory.

French and Bell (1999)

Organizational development is a long-term effort, led and supported by top management, to improve an organization’s visioning, empowerment, learning, and problem-solving processes, through an ongoing, collaborative management of organization culture-with special emphasis on the culture of intact work teams and other team configurations-using the consultant-facilitator role and the theory and technology of applied behavioral science, including action research.

It has learned from the above definitions that the primary distinguishing characteristics of the organizational development are as under [French and Bell, 1999]:

OD focuses on culture and processes

Specifically, OD encourages collaboration between organization leaders and members in managing culture and process.

Teams of all kinds are particularly important for accomplishing tasks and are targets for OD activities.

OD focuses on the human and social side of the organization and in so doing also intervenes in the technological and structural sides.

Participation and involvement in problem solving and decision making by all levels of the organization are hallmarks of OD.

OD focuses on total system change and views organizations as complex social system.

OD practitioners are facilitators, collaborators, and co-learners with the client system.

An overreaching goal is to make the client system able to solve its problems on its own by teaching the skills and knowledge of continuous learning through self-analytical methods. OD views organization improvement as an ongoing process in the context of a constantly changing environment.

OD relies on an action research model with extensive participation by client system members.

OD takes a developmental view that seeks the betterment of both individuals and the organization. Attempting to create “win-win” solutions is standard practice in OD programs.

In the 1970s, organization development evolved as separate field that applied the behavioral sciences in a process of planned organization-wide change, with the goal of increasing organization effectiveness. Today the concept has been enlarged to examine how people and groups can change to a learning organization culture in a complex and turbulent environment. Organization development is not a step-by-step procedure to solve a specific problem but a process of fundamental change in the human and social systems of the organization, including organization culture. It is a process in a sense that a process is an identifiable interrelated event moving toward some goal or end. Organization development is a journey, not a destination. It is an unfolding and evolving series of events. Every organization program is unique because every organization has unique problems and opportunities. Yet all organization development programs are identifiable flow of interrelated events moving over time toward the goals of the organization improvement and individual development.

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Organization development is an organizational improvement strategy, which is about how people and organization function and how to get them to function better. The field is based on the knowledge from the behavioral science disciplines such as psychology, social psychology, sociology, anthropology, systems theory, organizational behavior, organization theory and management to create trust, open conformation of problems, employee empowerment and participation, knowledge and information sharing, the design of meaningful work, co-operation and co-ordination between groups and full use of human potential.

Organizational Development can help groups and individuals improve various aspects of organizational life necessary for success, including culture, values, and systems and behavior. The goal of O.D. is to increase organizational effectiveness and organizational health, through planned interventions in the organization’s processes, operations, and behavior. Most often, O.D. services are requested when an organization (or a unit within an organization) is undergoing a process of change.

Organizational Development services can assist in having a positive impact on most, if not all, factors that contribute to high performance. These include:

  • Accountability
  • Team interactions
  • Strategic planning
  • Skill alignment
  • Professional development strategies
  • Effective use of technology
  • Workplace climate
  • Employee morale

A primary goal of organization development is to optimize the system by ensuring that system elements are harmonious and congruent. When organization structure, strategy, culture, and processes are not aligned, performance suffers. Different organizations interventions focus on align the organization with environment demands. Organizations are examples of open systems, that is, system interacting with their environments. Many problems of organizations today emerge from rapid changes in environmental demands, threats and opportunities.

The Growth and Relevance of OD:

Organizations must adapt to increasingly complex and uncertain technological, economic, political, and cultural changes. The rapidly changing conditions of the past few years have shown that the organizations are in the midst of unprecedented uncertainty and chaos, and nothing short of a management revolution will save them. Three major trends are shaping change in organizations: globalization, information technology, and managerial innovation.

First: globalization is changing the markets and environments in which organizations operate as the way they function. New governments, new leadership, new markets, and new countries are emerging and creating a new global economy. The toppling of the Berlin Wall symbolized and energized the reunification of Germany: entrepreneurs appeared in Russia, the Balkans, and Siberia as the former Soviet Union evolves, in fits and starts, into separate, market-oriented states; and China emerged as an open market and as the governance mechanism over Hong Kong to represent a powerful shift in global economic influence.

Second: information technology is redefining the traditional business model by changing how work is performed, how knowledge is used, and how the cost of doing business is calculated. The way an organization collects, stores, manipulates, uses, and transmits information can lower costs or increase the value and quality of products and services. Information technology, for example, is at the heart of emerging e-commerce strategies and organizations., E-Trade, are among many recent entrants to the information economy, and the amount of business being conducted on the Internet is projected to grow at double-digit rates for well over ten years.

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Moreover, the underlying rate of innovation is not expected to decline. Electronic data interchange, a state-of-the-art technology application a few years ago, is now considered routine business practice. The ability to move information easily and inexpensively throughout and among organizations has fueled the downsizing, delayering, and restructuring of firms. The Internet and the World Wide Web have enabled a new form of work known as telecommuting; organization members can work from their homes or cars without ever going to the office. Finally, information technology is changing how knowledge is used. Information that is widely shared reduces the concentration of power at the top of the organization. Organization members now share the same key information that senior managers once used to control decision making.

Ultimately, information technology will generate new business models in which communication and information sharing is nearly free.

Third: managerial innovation has responded to the globalization and information technology trends and has accelerated their impact on organizations. New organizational forms, such as networks, strategic alliances, and virtual corporations, provide organizations with new ways of thinking about how to manufacture goods and deliver services. The strategic alliance, for example, has emerged as one of the indispensable tools in strategy implementation. No single organization, not even IBM, Mitsubishi, or General Electric, can control the environmental and market uncertainty it faces. Sun Microsystems’ network is so complex that some products it sells are never touched by a Sun employee. In addition, new methods of change, such as downsizing and reengineering, have radically reduced the size of organizations and increased their flexibility, and new large-group interventions, such as the search conference and open space, have increased the speed with which organizational change can take place. Managers, OD practitioners, and researchers argue that these forces not only are powerful in their own right but are interrelated.

Their interaction makes for a highly uncertain and chaotic environment for all kinds of organizations, including manufacturing and service firms and those in the public and private sector. There is no question that these forces are profoundly affecting organizations. Fortunately, a growing number of organizations are undertaking the kinds of organizational changes needed to survive and prosper in today’s environment. They are making themselves more streamlined and nimble and more responsive to external demands. They are involving employees in key decisions and paying for performance rather than for time. They are taking the initiative in innovating and managing change, rather than simply responding to what has already happened.

Organization Development is playing an increasingly key role in helping organizations change themselves. It is helping organizations assess themselves and their environments, and revitalize and rebuild their strategies, structures, and processes. OD is helping organization members go beyond surface changes to transform the underlying assumptions and values governing their behaviors. The different OD concepts and methods increasingly are finding their way into government agencies, manufacturing firms, multinational corporations, service industries, educational institutions, and not-for-profit organizations.

Perhaps at no other time has OD been more responsive and practically relevant to organizations’ needs to operate effectively in a highly complex and changing world.

Models of Organizational Development and its Effectiveness

The pace of global, economic, and technological development makes change an inevitable feature of organizational life. Organization development is directed at bringing about planned change to increase an organization’s effectiveness. It is generally initiated and implemented by managers, often with the help of an OD practitioner either from inside or outside of the organization. Organizations can use planned change to solve problems, to learn from experience, to reframe shared perceptions, to adapt to external environmental changes, to improve performance, and to influence future changes.

All approaches to OD rely on some theory about planned change. The theories describe the different stages through which planned change may be effected in organizations and explain the process of applying OD methods to help organization members manage change.

There are at least three planned change models that have been identified by Cummings and Worley (1997): Lewin’s change model, the action research model, and contemporary adaptations of action research.

Kurt Lewin’s Change Model:

Organizational change can occur at three levels- and, since the patterns of resistance to change are different for each, the patterns in each level require different change strategies and techniques. These levels involve:

Changing the individuals who work in the organization-that is, their skills, values, attitudes, and eventually behavior-but making sure that such individual-behavior change is always regarded as instrumental to organizational change.

Changing various organizational structures and systems-reward systems, reporting relationships, work design, and so on.

Directly changing the organizational climate or interpersonal style-how open people are with each other, how conflict is managed, how decisions are made, and so on.

Whatever the level involved, each of the three interventions is needed to make organizational members address the level’s need for change, heighten their awareness of their own behavioral patterns, and make them more open to the change process.

Stage 1: Unfreezing

Three ways of unfreezing an organization are:

i. Disconfirmation

ii. Induction of guilt or anxiety

iii. Creation of psychological safety

Disconfirmation or lack of confirmation. Organizational members are not likely to embrace change unless they experience some need for it. Embracing change typically means that people are dissatisfied with the way things are – quality is below standard, costs are too high, morale is too low, or direction is unclear, for example.

Unfreezing involves reducing those forces maintaining the organization’s behavior at its present level. Unfreezing is sometimes accomplished through a process of “psychological disconfirmation.” By introducing information that shows discrepancies between behaviors desired by organization members and those behaviors currently exhibited, members can be motivated to engage in change activities.

Induction of guilt or anxiety. This is a matter of establishing a gap between what is current but not working well and some future goal that would make things work better. When people recognize a gap between what is and what would be better and more desirable, they will be motivated via guilt or anxiety to reduce the gap. But disconfirmation and induction are not enough to accomplish the unfreezing stage. One more process is necessary.

Creation of psychological safety. To face disconfirmation, experience guilt or anxiety, and be able to act or move, people must believe that moving will not bring them humiliation or loss of self-esteem. People must still feel worthy, psychologically safe. The consultant must be concerned with people not losing face and must take car that when people admit that something is wrong they will not be punished or humiliated.

Stage 2: Moving (Changing)

The second step, movement, involves making the actual changes that will move the organization to another level of response. On the individual level, we would expect to see people behaving differently, perhaps demonstrating new skills or new supervisory practices. On the structural level, we would expect to see changes in actual organizational structures, reporting relationships, and reward systems that affect the way people do their work. On the climate or interpersonal level, we would expect to see behavior patterns that indicate greater interpersonal trust and openness and fewer dysfunctional interactions.

There are two main processes for accomplishing this stage:

  1. Identification with a new role model
  2. Scanning the environment for new information

Identification with a new role model, mentor, boss, or consultant to “begin to see things from that other person’s point of view. If we see another point of view operating in a person to whom we pay attention and respect, we can begin to imagine that point of view as something to consider for ourselves”.

Scanning the environment for new, relevant information. In working with the chairman of a company and the president or CEO, the consultant explored many reasons for their conflict with one another. To help with reducing some of this conflict, the consultant worked on clarifying roles and responsibilities. He quotes other chairman-president/CEO models from other client organizations, some that worked very well and some that did not.

This process was an activity of bringing to the two of them new, relevant information that might help them to move forward with the changes needed in the relationship.

Stage 3: Refreezing

This final stage is one of helping the client integrate the changes. This stage involves stabilizing or institutionalizing these changes by establishing systems (such as norms, policies, and structures) that make these behavioral patterns “relatively secure against change”.

The refreezing stage may involve 

• Redesigning the organization’s recruitment process to increase the likelihood of hiring applicants

who share the organization’s new management style and value system.

• During the refreezing stage, the organization may also ensure that the new behaviors have become

the operating norms at work, that the reward system actually reinforces those behaviors, or that a

new, more participative management style predominates.

This stage can be seen in two parts – self and relations with others:

i. Personal refreezing

ii. Relational refreezing

i. Personal refreezing is the process of taking the new, changed way of doing things and making it fit comfortably into one’s total self-concept. This process involves a lot of practice – trying out new roles and behaviors, getting feedback, and making adjustments until the new way of doing things feels reasonably comfortable.

ii. Relational refreezing is the process of assuring that the client’s new behavior will fit with significant others. In a system, when one begins to do things differently, will this difference quickly affect others with


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