Change Management

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The Role of Organization Development in Large-Scale Organizational Change

©2001 Barbara Timony


edited 7/12/01


"Some 25 years ago came the birth of another discipline, called organizational development ... It is in fact the subject of change management, which is of profound interest to management scholars as well as to consultants who see organizational performance as the sum of individual performance." (Beckhard, Hard, & Trahant, 1996, p. 184.)

The focus of this paper is on the role of Organization Development (OD) in large-scale organizational change, and how change management strategies help leaders of organizations to achieve desired business objectives, which may ultimately dictate a merger or acquisition, a downsizing, or similar systemic change in order to maintain the organization's viability. Organization Development practitioners are typically involved early in these types of change processes, working with senior management to incorporate change management techniques at the systems level.

Still evolving as a practice, the goal of Organization Development " to focus on the gap that exists between where a group or organization is and where they would like to be" (Warrick & Thompson, 1980, p. 987). This is illustrative of a fundamental change process - moving from the 44as is" to the "to be" state.

In addition to exploring the history and current state of Organization Development and the role of the practitioner, the paper examines the implications of organizational change in business and educational settings, presents models and systematic approaches for dealing with change and transition, and examples of how planned, strategically-focused change management processes can result in successful outcomes.

Throughout the paper, the terms "Organization Development" and "OD" are used interchangeably. Some authors use the term "Organizational Development" when referring to 66013."

History and Evolution of...