Organization Development: Theory, Principles and Goals

The rise of organizations can be considered as one of the most important features of the contemporary world. The transition from an agricultural economy to an industrial and then to a postindustrial economy with a dominance of the tertiary sector increased numbers and kinds of organizations. Therefore, an acute need in such a study as organization development (OD) appeared. It is possible to define organization development as a practical approach to enhancement of organizational performance by a smart building of the organization’s internal environment. To implement OD, managers need specifically designed tools such as the balanced scorecard or division of organization into teams.

The main aim of OD, which states the existence of an organization’s unique climate, culture, and strategies, is to improve the organization with such tools as the balanced scorecard and to decide whether an organization needs a change or not.

Analysis of the theory and principles of OD

OD is a cross-disciplinary field of research aiming to understand and improve organizational principles of work performance. Organizational Development Theory is partly based on the conviction that each organization possesses particular climate, culture, and strategies. Regarding organizational climate, it could be understood as a nondescript substance that makes an organization outstanding.

It is highly correlated with a complex of members’ feelings about the work in this organization and the level of their satisfaction. In other words, it is an organization’s “personality” that is heavily based on the personality of the organization’s founder. Undoubtedly, it is not uncommon that the founder’s personality influences his/her creation persisting even after the establisher’s death. The case of Pixar Animation Studios can be considered as a palmary example. To avoid Disney’s fate of lower quality cartoons after Walt Disney’s death, Pixar implemented a set of core principles and values to keep the firm’s creative culture touch even after its founders’ death.

As for organizational culture, it reflects the norms and values that influence the individuals working in an organization (Tsai). According to this concept, an organization consists of five elements: assumptions, values, behavioral norms, behavioral patterns, and artifacts (“Organization Development Theory”). Along with national culture, organizational culture has an impact on people’s behavior and thoughts, and the power of this influence is hardly recognized by the members of an organization. However, it is necessary not to overgeneralize: for instance, two relatively similar people can still act differently after ten years working in the U.S. Army or Airbnb head office.

Concerning organizational strategies, it is meant that organizations have certain action patterns. The strategies which an organization determines and follows can be formulated at present or borrowed from experience. Thus, Apple’s strategies for iPhone are quite similar to Mac’s ones elaborated thirty years ago: owning both the physical product and the operating system.

OD and CM techniques (Force Field Analysis and Lewin’s CM model)

Kurt Lewin is considered to be a founding father of OD before the concept itself was defined. The psychologist was deeply interested in the ways organizations functioned and developed several theories and frameworks dedicated to this subject. Among them, the Force Field Analysis is particularly distinguished. In one word, it is a decision-making technique. When having to decide on implementing something new, it is possible to use the Force Field Analysis. The OD managers follow such a pattern: they define and write both the “Forces for Change” and the “Forces against Change” in two different columns, after this score each force based on its influence, add up all the scores and finally compare both columns. The one having the highest figure should be followed.

Once an organization decided to make a change, the hardest part is to implement it successfully. Lewin’s change management (CM) model aims to help a change implementation inside an organization. Lewin suggests the following CM model. Firstly, a change agent has to discuss the change and answer the member’s questions. Secondly, the process of adjustment to the idea of change begins, and the organization’s members start adapting to it. Finally, the change has been implemented.

Kurt Lewin offers an extremely effective way of deciding if a change should be made as well as a blueprint to successfully implement it. An organization is composed of plenty of individuals each of them having their habits; it becomes complicated to change the way an organization functions. The changes implemented by General McChrystal at the U.S. Army can be considered to be an appropriate example of this statement (Wolfe).

OD tools and approaches (the BSC)

It is hard to deny the importance of feedbacks for OD, and there are several tools and approaches to the evaluation of organizational interventions. To be evaluated, an organization ought to be split into teams. The group approach is considered to be more efficient than the individual one because information can be better shared and processed. Individuals should be eager to communicate inside the group but also outside of it. However, it is necessary to avoid competition between groups. Once the teams are formed, the change agent can start making exercises, surveys, and interviews.

The balanced scorecard (BSC) is a useful management tool that aims to identify a limited number of financial and non-financial targets and to create a pathway leading to them. Once the ways to reach the targets are defined, the members of an organization should focus on them to meet their goals. As Lewin proved with his CM model, successful implementation of change into an organization is utterly difficult because its members have to relearn how to work efficiently. However, it is possible to train people for being used to the new process implemented as well as facilitate their adaptation to a change in fostering experimentation.

An important managerial concept is the learning curve. It is important to understand that after the implementation of a new process, the organization is not benefiting from it fully. The reason behind it is that members of the organization are not able to work as efficiently as before. A key to a successful organizational change is to foster learning among the organization’s members for them to work effectively under the new paradigm. Different pieces of training and experiential learning are the primary tools at the disposal during an intervention. Certainly, training makes people change, while experiential learnings encourage individuals to take a new approach.

Finally, it might be concluded that OD aims to increase organizational performance. It postulates that each organization has its climate, culture, and strategies. Lewin’s CM model helps to decide if it is necessary to make a change or not, while the Force Field Analysis contributes to implementing it successfully. Meanwhile, such OD tools as the BSC give focus on specific targets and help the organization’s members to reach their goals.

Works Cited

  1. “Organization Development Theory”. Health behavior and Health Education: Theory, Research, and Practice. Web.
  2. Tsai, Yafang. “Relationship between Organizational Culture, Leadership Behavior and Job Satisfaction.” BMC Health Services Research, 2011. BioMed Central. Web.
  3. Wolfe, Alexandra. “Gen. Stanley McChrystal’s Lessons Learned”. The Wall Street Journal. 2015. Web.

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