Aspects of Planned Change, Mostly Empirical: Symposium VIII, Part 2

Article excerpt

INTRODUCTION

The six selections reprinted below close this Part 2 of Symposium VIII, and they also warrant the enthusiasm appropriate for Part 1, in the judgment of the editor. He can hardly wait on Symposium IX. But some work remains to be done, present tense. To begin, the two sets of selections are not peas-in-a-pod. Far from it, in fact. Part 1 is most characterized by an emphasis on the integration of macrolevel phenomena--e.g., on the Federal Executive Institute, and on "new democratic governance." The selections below are best characterized as empirical, whether the focus of research is micro- or macro-level or (as in the piece on military burnout) a bit of both. As a back-up characterization, the Part 2 selections also may be seen as more ameliorative, in the sense that several of them go directly to the heart of energizing more humane as well as more responsive worksettings.

There is much good news in this assemblage of selections that are best characterized as empirical and ameliorative. There was a day and time when only a small number of such studies were generated per year, with public-sector loci accounting for only about a fifth of that small number. The selections below came from about 15 submissions concerning the public sector, and reflect a methodological range and quality that are substantially beyond selections in earlier symposia in this series.

So, let's move on. The introductory comments below show why and how the selections below justify the conclusion that things are not only alive and well in public-sector OD. But another important point also seems obvious to this editor: it is no stretch at all to say that things have never been better in public-sector OD.

1. Citizenship and Work. This piece of research falls within an important tradition and, sad to say, a neglected one. Consequently, special attention should be accorded to the contribution of Aaron Cohen and Eran Vigoda--"An Empirical Assessment of the Relationship Between General Citizenship and Work Outcomes." Predecessors exist, but they have to be sought out: thus Max Elden (1977) provides some seminal empirical work; and Pateman (1970) generates broad theoretical perspective. Indeed, your editor (1985, 1995) is pleased to count the emphasis on citizenship <--- > work as one of his own special interests.

The general goal of the work by Cohen and Vigoda seems direct: to move toward greater congruence between the demands of work and the aspirations of the just society. To have these two vectors persistently tugging in opposed directions does not attract your editor, who sees a self-defeating tension between representative government in the polity and autocracy at work. Cohen and Vigoda, in effect, build on earlier work and substantially extend its reach-and-grasp, as they variously contribute to the evolving literature of work <---> citizenship that will provide useful guidance for all efforts at organizational change.

Specifically, Cohen and Vigoda focus on four aspects of "general citizenship"--political participation, community involvement, altruism, as well as disillusionment with government--and test for their covariation with two work outcomes--perceived performance and intent to turnover. Several models are tested for a best-fit to the data and, although the relationships are complex, one model fits reasonably well with the focal citizenship and work variables.

Cohen and Vigoda also highlight several implications of their research for citizenship <---> work interaction which has great potential for guiding planned change in the future. In effect, Cohen and Vigoda expand the stakes in OD's search for the just society at work. They add useful detail concerning the covariants of work processes and structures that extend into the heart of the body politic.

Let your editor put the point personally. I once thought that our political institutions dominated in the effort to preserve responsible freedom. …