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Factsheet:

Organisation development

Resource summary

This factsheet was last updated in June 2016.

What is organisation development?

We define organiation development (OD) as ‘planned and systematic approach to enabling sustained organisation performance through the involvement of its people’. Behind this definition lies a depth of research and practice, but also confusion.

Others have described OD in the following ways:

  • A planned process of change in an organisation’s culture through the utilisation of behavioural science technology, research and theory. (Warner Burke)
  • A long-range effort to improve an organisation’s problem-solving capabilities and its ability to cope with changes in its external environment with the help of external or internal behavioural-scientist consultants, or change agents as they are sometimes called. (Wendell French)
  • An effort (1) planned, (2) organisation-wide, and (3) managed from the top, to (4) increase organisation effectiveness and health through (5) planned interventions in the organisation’s ‘processes’, using behavioural science knowledge. (Richard Beckhard)
  • A system-wide process of data collection, diagnosis, action planning, intervention, and evaluation aimed at (1) enhancing congruence among organisational structure, process, strategy, people and culture; (2) developing new and creative organisational solutions; and (3) developing the organisation’s self-renewing capacity. It occurs through the collaboration of organisational members working with a change agent using behavioural science theory, research and technology. (Michael Beer)

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  • What is organisation development?
  • The history of OD
  • Putting OD into practice
  • The relationship between OD and HR
  • CIPD viewpoint
  • References
  • Further reading

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