The effectiveness of Organizational Development models

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.

The world is passing through the turbulent times. Companies are expanding their business, acquiring new enterprises, and going through significant changes, including outsourcing, downsizing, automation etc.

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 stagnant. External forces i.e. Government, Stockholders, Unions, Competitors, Suppliers, and Customers etc continuously affect the activities of the organization. Changing consumer lifestyles and technological breakthroughs all act on the organization to cause it to change. 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.

The gist of above definitions is summarized below:

Culture and processes are the key areas of the OD

Specifically, OD encourages collaboration between organization top managers and staff 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.

OD makes the client system effective so that the client systems solves its problem at their own and provide necessary coaching / teaching in order to enhance the knowledge and skill level.

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

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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.

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:


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 settle themselves in increasingly complex and uncertain technological, economic, political, and cultural changes. The speedily changing conditions of last few years shown that the organizations are facing the unprecedented uncertainty and nothing short of a management revolution will save them. Globalization, information technology, and managerial innovation are the major trends which are shaping change in organizations.

First: globalization is playing vital role is the organizational life cycle. Organization is growing in the changing markets and environments. New governments, new leadership, new markets, and new countries are emerging and creating a new global economy. Companies in Russia, China, Hong Kong etc. are the examples of globalization.

Second: information technology has drastically changing the old business model and defining the new parameters of how knowledge is used, how work is performed and how to calculate the cost of doing business. Now the organizations are going for ERP, e-commerce, SAP etc., 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.

Due to revolution in information technology, electronic data interchange, a state of the art information technology application, few years ago, is now considered as routine business practice. Due to this revolution, organizations moved towards downsizing and restructuring of the firms.

Finally, information technology is changing how knowledge is used. Organization members now share the same key information that senior managers once used to control decision making.

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

Third: managerial innovation has responded to the globalization and information technology trends and has speed up their impact on organizations. New organizational forms, i.e. networks, virtual corporations etc, provide organizations with different ways of thinking about how the produced 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.

New methods of change, such as downsizing and reengineering, have drastically reduced the size of organizations and increased their capacity, and new large group interventions have increased the speed with which organizational change can take place. OD practitioners, managers, and researchers argue that these forces not only are powerful in their own right but are interrelated.

Organization development is the continuous process of improvement. As change is the continuous process so also to cope with such changes is necessary of organizations survive. As the time passes the new changes occur in the market dilemma. The organizations on their peak position need to maintain their peak position and continuously improve to provide better benefits to their customers. Timely they have to adapt new technology, enter in to new markets, beat the competition etc.

The organization development is not only for the failure organization but the successful organization also adapt new technology and innovations to maintain their success. Organization may face different problems in their different departments like finance, management, marketing, production, sales and so on. So the OD consultant diagnoses these problems to provide solutions to that organization.

Human resources — our people — may be a large fraction of our costs of doing business. They certainly can make the difference between organizational success and failure. We better know how to manage them.

Changing nature of the workplace. Our workers today want feedback on their performance, a sense of accomplishment, feelings of value and worth, and commitment to social responsibility. They need to be more efficient, to improve their time management. And, of course, if we are to continue doing more work with less people, we need to make our processes more efficient.

Global markets. Our environments are changing, and our organizations must also change to survive and prosper. We need to be more responsible to and develop closer partnerships with our customers. We must change to survive, and we argue that we should attack the problems, not the symptoms, in a systematic, planned, humane manner.

Technological improvement: Organizations from time to time innovate and create new technology for better product development and management of organization. Because in era of competition the manager’s overall attention is toward the proper management and allocation of resources.

Models of Organizational Development and its Effectiveness

Organizations are facing continuous pressures due to change in global pace, economic and technological development and organization is making the same a feature of its life cycle. Every organization is going for development and directed at bringing about planned change to increase organization’s effectiveness and efficiency. Managers, generally, initiate and implement the same 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 adapt to external environmental changes, to improve performance, and to influence future changes.

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Organization Development (OD) covers all aspects of an organization; its functional scope is very vast as such it:

Focuses on culture and processes

Encourages collaboration between organization leadership and members in managing culture and process and makes it more efficient.

Teams of various kinds are the target of OD.

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

Ensures participation and involvement in problem solving and decision making by all levels of the organization, which is hall mark of whole process.

Also focuses on total systems change and views organizations as complex social systems.

It leads to a development that seeks the betterment of both individuals and the organization as a whole.

The OD consultants/ practitioners therefore plays an important and vital role as such they are facilitates, collaborates, and co-learners with the client system. At the outset OD consultants seeks top management’s commitment and consent to initiate the process.

The major events in the process then include:






Adjustments, and


OD is an iterative process, it a journey not a destination. The goal of OD consultants is overcharging to make client’s systems able to solve their problems through learning and teaching self-analytical methods. OD in fact is not one time process; rather it relies on action research model with extreme participation by client system members to bring sustainable growth. The knowledge base of OD is extensive, dynamic, and consonantly growing. Today the organizations prefer for holistic action plan as compare to linear or cyclic kind of interventions. The holistic approach presents a theory that the universe and especially nature should be viewed as interacting wholes rather than as distinct parts. This approach definitely caters to dynamic and most contemporary techniques for the planned change.

There are numerous models and several recent theories those promises planned change.

Few are highlighted below:

Kurt Lewin’s Change Model

Three stage theory of change was proposed by Kurt Lewin (founder of social psychology). Initially the theory was presented in 1947 and since then a lot of changes has been taken place in the original work. Actually there are various models of change which are based on the Kurt Lewin model. According to Kurt Lewin, change in organization is commonly referred to as Unfreeze, Change, and Freeze. Change entails moving from one equilibrium point to another.

Kurt Lewin model is useful to frame a process of change for people which can easily understand. Although this theory got so much popularity but it has been criticized for being too simplistic. The detailed explanation of each stage of the model is given below:

Stage 1: Unfreezing

Unfreezing is the first stage of Lewin’s Change Model. This stage focuses on the need for change and it is the starting point of change process. This stage emphasizes the importance of change and helps in moving move away from our current comfort zone. Change will not occur unless and until we understand the urgency of change. The more we feel that change is necessary, the more urgent it is and vise versa. When it becomes evident that the organization requires a change then the next step is to identify the pros and cons associated with the implementation of change. For example it would be wise to proceed with the change if the ‘pro’s’ outnumber the ‘con’s’ before you take any action. This is the basis of what Kurt Lewin called the Force Field Analysis. In field force analysis there are various factors related to the change. Some of the factors are in favor of change while others are opposing factors. A change cannot takes place unless the factors for change outweigh the factors against change. In the ‘Unfreezing’ stage a department or an entire business moves towards motivation for change. The Kurt Lewin Force Field Analysis is a helpful way to know this process and there are ample of thoughts of how this can be done.

Stage 2: Change – or Transition

The second stage of Lewin’s Change Model is a process of transition which is the inner movement or journey we make in reaction to a change. In transition process the current states is unfrozen and movement is started towards the new state. Lewin argued that the second stage is often the hardest as people are unsure or even fearful. Basically in this stage people are not much aware about the benefits of change so they are in the process of learning about the changes and require time to understand. In this stage people scan the environment for new relevant information and try to identify new role model or mentor. People must have clear picture of the desired change so they don’t lose sight of where they are heading. Using role models and allowing people to develop their own solutions also help to make the changes.

Stage 3: Freezing (or Refreezing)

The last stage of Lewin’s Change Model is freezing or refreezing. Once the change has been made, the next step is to freeze the change in order to establish stability. In this stage everything is going to settle down because people are in the process of accepting the new changes. Thus all the changes become new norms of the organization and people form new relationships. People will become comfortable with their routines but it will take time. Many people argue that there is no freezing because of dynamic environment in which things are changing very rapidly. Therefore there is always a continuous change and freezing has become a chaotic process in which great flexibility is demanded. In this way ‘unfreezing’ for the next change might be easier. Lewin’s tried to reinforce the change and ensure that the desired change is accepted and maintained into the future. Reinforcement is very important because people tend to go back to doing what they are used to doing.

Effectiveness of Kurt Lewin’s Model of Change:

There is lot of real life examples of Kurt Lewin’s Change model.

Example # 1 Continental Airline

By applying the Kurt Lewin’s Change Model, Continental Airlines became “Airline of the Year”.

The awards won by Continental so far include “No. 1 Most Admired Global Airline” from Fortune magazine (2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, and 2009), “Airline of the Year” by OAG (2004, 2005), “Best Trans-Atlantic and Trans-Pacific Business Class among U.S. airlines” by Condé Nast Traveler (1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, and 2006), and many others.

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Following is the another example of Kurt Lewin’s Change model:

By doing attitude and satisfaction survey in the organization of all staff, management may come to know that the moral of the staff members is quite low and due to this risk of safety is quite high. This may hinder the change process.

Similarly when information is being delivered to the field, but negative events are continuing to occur, this may reflect to the management that the message is not being heard and some required changes are in order.

During the unfreezing step generally most of the staff members and management are willing to change.

Kurt Lewin’s model suggests that one of the best ways to motivate people to change is to first get people see the need for change. Even when a change if for the persons long term health benefits such a ceasing a bad destructive habit, few people ever change because someone else tells them to. People generally need to see for themselves the need for change, for the catalyst to occur, to provoke them to “unfreeze.”

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Educating employees in regards the pressures for change is a first step.

Organization leaders will begin to highlight gaps between current and desired states and put forward a vision as it needs to be. They further express the change in terms of particular outcomes that the organization desired from its operation and employees and their belief and confidence that these changes are possible.

Before installing a new way of operations, the existing system needs to be broken down.

At this stage, the goal of change agent is to create a strong reaction. To get the relevant staff & management participated and examining the status quo. Create an environment on which people are forced to seek out a new and better way to do things. To re-set the normal order of things to new heights and standards.

Tips to Unfreeze:

Change is necessary because the businesses, market or product are changing. Analysis should be carried out that what is required. Build an understanding.

Existing status quo will be required to break down before developing new way of doing things.

Guide the people to know and understand that the old ways cannot continue and prior poor results will be used. Message should be passed on. What, who, when, where, why and how changes and improvements are necessary.

Regular and frequent communication lines will be open with all employees. In order to eliminate the barriers of change, open door policy will be introduced with the aim to allow the employees to feel comfortable in sharing their concerns with the leadership.

Remain open and honest with feedback to staff and continue to build solid interaction with the affected groups.

Build a guiding partnership and support from management and understand and consider the needs of stakeholders.


During the transition phase we aim to shift or alter the behavior of the

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:

Identification with a new role model

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


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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