Academic journal article SA Journal of Industrial Psychology

The Effect of Organisational Context on Organisational Development (OD) Interventions

Academic journal article SA Journal of Industrial Psychology

The Effect of Organisational Context on Organisational Development (OD) Interventions

Article excerpt


History of organisational development

In the last 40 years, OD has progressed from a limited conceptual and practice base into a comprehensive, global approach to organisational improvement (Glassman & Cummings, 1991). One can ascribe its introduction, methodologies and subsequent international burgeoning to several factors:

* the increase in the number of businesses that reach global markets (Lau, McMahan & Woodman, 2005; Peterson, 1997)

* the rapid growth and transformation of organisations have demanded the use of OD interventions to manage changes (Pettigrew, Woodman & Cameron, 2001)

* the increasing number, size and sophistication of industrialising economies (Golembiewski & Luo, 1994)

* technological advancements and knowledge management have enabled organisations to engage in planned change (Cummings & Worley, 2001).

According to Blair, Sorensen and Yaeger (2002), OD interventions play important roles in dealing with a dramatically changing world that turbulence and trauma characterise. American and Western European consultants developed OD. Therefore, the values and assumptions of western, industrialised cultures influence its practices and techniques. However, they might conflict with the values and assumptions of other societies. Therefore, the applicability and effectiveness of OD outside the United States of America (USA) and the relationship of theory and practice to different cultures are major concerns to academics and practitioners.

However, some practitioners believe that OD can still result in developments, organisational improvements, growth and renewal in any culture. The success of OD interventions in organisations will depend on the extent to which the values and assumptions of the organisations and countries match those of the USA. Furthermore, the level of economic development in the countries will also influence the success of OD interventions.

Purpose of the study

This article aims to examine national and international OD practice. Secondly, it aims to assess the effect of diverse cultures and cultural values on the use and effectiveness of OD interventions. The emphasis of the article is on the necessity to achieve congruence between the OD interventions organisations select and on the cultures of the organisations and societies where these techniques are to be implemented.

What will follow

The structure of the article follows. It first explores the link between organisational elements and changing organisational contexts. It then reviews three proposed typologies to characterise organisational cultures. Thereafter, the article discusses a contextualised and customised approach to planning and implementing OD interventions. A discussion about the contextual differences between developed and emerging economies and their effect on OD interventions follows. The article then evaluates contextual differences in national cultures and management practices and their effects on OD interventions. The article concludes with an assessment of critical success factors for OD practitioners or consultants who work in multicultural contexts.

Linking organisational elements, particularly organisational cultures as a focus of change, to changing organisational contexts

Various pressures and forces of change, like shifts in organisational structures; rapidly changing markets; technological advances; the focus on core abilities to achieve excellence, growth and customer-orientation; globalisation; outsourcing; and networking have affected organisations during the last decade (Howard, 2006; Nilakant & Ramnarayan, 2006). When organisations' current cultures do not align with their current business strategies, they need culture change interventions. However, changing cultures is a difficult and time-consuming process and demands interventions at all levels.

British and American literature shows that most organisation change and development programmes fail. …

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