Academic journal article
By Weshah, Hani A.
Education , Vol. 132, No. 2
Contemporary organizations encounter significant challenges that affect their survival and continuity to a large extent. Among the most important of such challenges; are instability in the surrounding environment, change in workplace requirements, and achievement of optimal efficiency and effectiveness. In addition, the employees in these organizations endure even further challenges in achieving an acceptable level of job satisfaction through knowledge, professional skills development, and in the pursue of their objectives at their organization (French & Bell, 1999). Therefore, the needs for organizational development (OD) at the individual and organization levels have arisen so as to overcome the barriers of these challenges, enable organizations to survive and pursue their goals more effectively. This will be achieved through a new plan that employs a drastic measure to remedy the noted deficiencies through a holistic or partial approach.
Historically, the organizational development has been influenced by traditional trends such as classical and bureaucratic theories, however, recent trends have emphasized the behavioral, social and humanistic aspects including the human motives, needs and interests. At the same time, OD sheds more right on working conditions, group work, and internal and external environments that surround the organization (Paton & Mc calman, 2001).
The Organizational Development (OD) has emerged in the late 1950s out of insights from behavioral science applications to solve problems that encounter the organizations. This was based on a research, conducted by Lewin, who was influenced by psychology scholars such as Maslow and Rogers. The Organizational Development concept was originated by Blake, Mounton, Bechkard and Shepard. The term appeared in literature in 1957 as an outcome of a pilot research conducted in national training laboratories in the United States and was supervised by Lewin (Tierney, 2002).
Definitions of Organizational Development
The literature is replete with numerous definitions of organizational development which have been evolved over the years. While no single definition of OD exists, a general agreement of the nature of this field and its major characteristics has been unified. These definitions of OD can be categorized into early and recent ones. Examples of early definitions include French and Bell, 1999 (p 24) where it stated that Bechkard defined the organizational development as a planned effort at the organization level, supported by top management to increase the effectiveness of the organization through planned interventions in the processes that take place in the organization, by implementing the knowledge generated from behavioral sciences. Whereas, Bennis defined Organizational development (OD) as a response to change and a complex educational strategy intended to change the beliefs, attitudes, values, and structure of the organizations all of which are directed toward making the organization better able to respond to changing environmental demands. In terms of the recent definitions, French and Bell, 1999, (p.1) described Organizational Development as a systematic process for applying behavioral science principles and practices in organizations to increase individual and organizational effectiveness. They added, OD is an organizational improvement strategy that offers an integrated framework capable of solving most of the important problems confronting the human, social and the structural sides of organizations. Cummings and Worley (1993) and Burke (1994) documented in French and Bell, 1999 book defined OD as follow:
Cummings and Worley (1993) defined OD as a systematic application of behavioral science knowledge to the planned development and reinforcement of organizational strategies, structures, and processes for improving an organization and effectiveness. Burke (1994), on the other hand, viewed Organizational Development as a planned process of change in an organization's culture through the utilization of behavioral science technologies, research, and theory. …