OD Interventions for Voluntary Organizations A Strategic Framework

By Banerjee, Subhojit; Sinha, Rajesh Kumar | Review of Management, June 2012 | Go to article overview

OD Interventions for Voluntary Organizations A Strategic Framework


Banerjee, Subhojit, Sinha, Rajesh Kumar, Review of Management


Introduction

The past decade has seen a rapid growth of interest among policy makers and researchers in what have been variously termed 'NGOs', 'non-profit' and 'voluntary' organizations in both the developed and the under-developed countries (Smillie, 1995). Of late, with the increase in the diversified areas in which the voluntary organizations operate, there has been considerable interest in the application of traditional management techniques to manage changes in these organizations. Developmental NGOs, political parties, trade unions, self-help groups and the likes are various types of not-for-profit voluntary organizations. The number and prominence of such organizations are growing quite rapidly.

In order to enhance the effectiveness of the organization and wellbeing of people, some changes are required to be injected in the organizational system in non-profit sector. Organization development (OD) (French, 1969) is a behavioral science approach for the same. Organizational development (OD) refers to systematic, planned change. It is not an easily definable single concept. Rather, OD is a term used to encompass a series of changes in structure and systems of the organization by way of psychotherapeutic counseling sessions with groups and individuals, undertaken in response to changes in the external environment that seeks to improve organizational effectiveness (Beer and Walton 1987). All types of organizations need changes that include not-for-profit voluntary organizations as well. Not-for-profit organizations differ from for-profit organizations in many ways. It creates different types of challenges as the organizational members are non-paid for their services rendered to the organizations (Brown and Covey, 1987). Voluntary organizations are supposed to work for the benefits of others or to serve some cause or ideologies and not just for the organization itself.

Theoretical Background

OD is a top-down program aimed at improving an organization's ability to solve problems and renew itself. As the technique percolates down from the top, humanistic & behavioral factors become the core of the subject (French, 1969). OD interventions are typically carried out with the consultation of an external expert. An OD consultant's role includes assessment, feedback, and action planning (Ramos, 2007) followed by actual intervention and evaluation. The consultant suggests OD interventions after assessing processes and structures in the organization (decision, behavioral and communication) and giving feedback on the status quo. OD intervention strategies commonly involve human process based, techno-structural, socio-technical and organizational transformation strategies (Mullili & Wong 2011). It is similar to performing an action research as intervention (Srivastav A. K., 2011). Action research (Frohman et al., 1976) involves action followed by a research. It makes action research as the core of OD.

The intervention techniques do not always show positive results. Three reasons have been attributed to this. First, OD values do not fit into all organizational cultures. Second, many OD endeavors fail because the change agents do not understand the politics of change. And third, OD has ethical implications (Robbins, 1991). On the basis of the arguments stated above, a clear understanding of a voluntary organization is needed as any OD technique without understanding the uniqueness of such an organization would be futile (Brown & Covey, 1987). Lord Beveridge's (1948) definition states that "a voluntary organization, properly speaking, is an organization which, whether its workers are paid or unpaid, is initiated and governed by its own members without external control".

From the above stated definition of Lord Beveridge, a voluntary organization is characterized by the lack of control from external agencies such as the government, auditors, administration etc. Control here does not mean that these organizations are above law. …

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