Organizational Development–Some Issues and Challenges

by Anthony Raia



The field of organizational development promises to make an important contribution to management theory and practice. As an emerging body of knowledge and techniques, it represents an innovative and refreshing approach to increased effectiveness and planned change in organizations. It appears to be especially suited to meet the present and future demands of our society. There are, however, a number of issues and challenges which must be met if OD is to take its place as a relevant and useful discipline for practicing managers. Laboratory method, which has provided the backbone and thrust for many early OD efforts in this country, must first of all involve more than sensitivity training for organization members. The focus of the activity must be on changing behavior in the work environment in a way that improves individual and group performance. Laboratory training can at best represent only part of an overall strategy for organizational learning and change. Although consider- able progress has been made in this regard, the real challenge lies in expanding laboratory technology beyond team development and inter- group building activities. A second major challenge evolves around the need for professionalism in the field. The current respectability of organizational development is due largely to the innovative efforts of a limited number of highly talented and creative individuals. The evolution of OD as a bona fide profession rests on the ability to develop a body of specialized knowledge and techniques, primarily through systematic research, as well as formalized methods for training and certifying future generations of practitioners. The use of consulting resources offers still another challenge in the field. Client-systems must learn to use OD consultants more creatively. They must also learn to develop more effective working relationships between their external and internal resources. Perhaps more important, however, is the need to develop an internal…

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