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What is Organizational Develoment?

Office of State Personnel, North Carolina

March 05, 2008

Organization Development Definition

Organization Development (OD) is an applied discipline that supports the creation of effective and healthy organizations consisting of competent, satisfied, and productive employees.

Other definitions from other OD practitioners are:

“Organization development (OD) is defined as a long-range effort to improve an organization’s ability to cope with change and its problem-solving and renewal processes through effective management of organization culture.”

-Don Harvey and Donald R. Brown in An Experiential Approach to Organization Development

“Organization development is an effort: (1) planned, (2) organization wide, (3) managed from the top, (4) to increase organizational effectiveness and health, through (5) planned interventions in the organization’s processes using behavioral science knowledge.”

-Richard Beckhard in Organization Development: Strategies and Models

OD encompasses these concepts:

1) Definitive and supportive of the organization’s long range vision and mission.

2) Seeks to improve an organization’s ability to both create and cope with change.

3) A teaching/learning process whose goal is to improve an organization’s decision-making and problem-solving capabilities.

4) Continuously identifies, allocates, and develops resources in ways that make these resources more available to the mission of the organization.

5) Introduces planned change, usually long-range, into an organization, or a coherent part of it, based on a diagnosis which is shared by the members of the organization or affected part.

6) An attempt to increase organizational effectiveness and efficiency through planned interventions based on research findings and theoretical hypotheses of the behavioral sciences.

7) A set of interventions into the ongoing activities of an organization to facilitate learning and to make informed choices about alternative ways to proceed.


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