Academic journal article Organization Development Journal

A Five Step Model to Enhance Ethical OD Practice at a Global Level along with a Case Example from India

Academic journal article Organization Development Journal

A Five Step Model to Enhance Ethical OD Practice at a Global Level along with a Case Example from India

Article excerpt


We address Organization Development (OD) globalization with a 5-step model to move the field forward globally, sustainably, and responsibly. We argue that self-examination and carefully examining the context and culture we practice in are both crucial for effective and ethical strategies of change. Specific steps include: reflecting on existing core OD values; examining core values of the new culture, country, client; researching the host culture's values to understand their relative importance; co-creating interventions into a new hybrid set of core beliefs that reflect the needs of both client and practitioner; assessing new belief systems for general application vs. the specificity of the dominant culture; and using insights to advance sustainability and transformation based on the existing strengths in the culture of the host country.

Our example compares work life in the United States of America (US) versus work life in India. India and the US are very different culturally: the US, for example, is a relatively low context society but a dominant power in the corporate world often judged primarily in the context of monetary success. India is relatively a high context culture, a culture that values spiritual pluralism. It addition, India continues to be a sustainable society with strong family ties and obligations, where living is defined in the context of generations, lineages, and ages. Assimilating the best from each country can help us address global issues more ethically and purposefully.

Creating Ethical Practice for International OD Consulting

This paper emphasizes a way of practicing Organization Development and presents a model for ethical practice in the field of Global OD. As the globalization of nearly all organizations continues to spread a global perspective on ethical concerns becomes a critical priority for exploration and our hope is that this model will help broaden our perspective on OD work in this applied field. Specifically, we argue that the following approach helps in moving this work forward and that this approach is more global centric than many have been in the past:

* An emphasis on self-reflection with particular attention to core values of the OD Practitioner from the US and the core values of the country the OD intervention is to take shape in.

* Conducting research on the context and culture of the country we seek to help. Specifically geography, languages, and values. Philosophical practices will be essential to study in some depth, before embarking on a mission to work with another culture.

* Co-creating intervention strategies with the client systems while using consistent value based OD models as helpful guiding principles.

* Reinterpreting OD models in the context of new culture and values while stressing the importance of developing ethical approaches to development work that can be applied across various cultural settings.

* Integrating values of sustainability and transformation at the individual, organizational and global levels to stress the importance of a temporal dimension of evaluation that far exceeds the financial quarter of the fiscal year.

Our approach emphasizes the importance of developing cross cultural sensitivity and suspending judgment as we leave our own comfort zones. We argue that approaches which resolve conflicts are more relevant than approaches that create conditions that lead to irreconcilable differences. In essence, we attempt to discuss and argue for ideas that move us from paradigms based in prior historical to help develop far more future sensitive paradigms based in the new global realities:

Finally, we offer integrative approaches that will result in long term-oriented and nonviolent resolutions to conflicts that arise related to diminishing resources, again at the individual, group, and larger social system level.

A Focus on Self-Reflection

International Organization Development practitioners have long argued that our "self' is an essential instrument of our practice, that we must examine our own biases before preaching to others, and we find ourselves consciously and overtly examining our belief systems and comparing these to the belief systems of the client system that we seek to help in another country. …

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