Relationship between organizational theory and organizational development
To understand the organizational theory and organizational development and how they relate with each other, it is important to first understand what an organization is. An organization could be defined as a structured social system that is made up of a group of people who work together for purposes of achieving a common goal or to meet some agreed objectives. Both organizational theory and organizational development are important in achieving organizational goals and objectives.
Organizational theory commonly denoted by OT is the study of organizations with the object of coming up with methods of solving organizational problems, improving efficiency and productivity of the organization, and also achieving the targets that are set by the stakeholders. To achieve these objectives, OT study organizations at three different levels, that is, individual, group, and organizational processes of which must be present for the efficient running of the organization (Scoot & Gerald 26).
Organizational development, on the other hand, is the organizational-wide effort that is planned to improve the effectiveness and the validity of the organization. It is described as the response to change that is aimed at keeping the organization at pace with the changing business environment. It may be aimed at changing the organizational culture involving a change of beliefs, attitudes, and values or changing the structure of the organization. All these responses are meant to adapt the organization to new technologies, marketing, and challenges that surround the organization. Organizational development achieves its objectives by intervening with the organizational processes where organizational changes could be implemented.
From these two descriptions of organizational theory and organizational development, we note that the two must work together for the organization to be able to achieve its objectives and goals. The organizational theory alone cannot improve the efficiency of the organization without organizational development. OT enhances a better understanding of the organizational processes, while organizational development deals with the changes in the organizational processes to adapt them to changes in the business environment. Organizational development (OD) is like the continuation of the organizational theory. OD depends on the information collected by the OT to manage changes in the organization.
While organizational theory entails identifying the main themes that help in solving problems and improving productivity, organizational development seeks to improve the practice of problem-solving and make the organization more effective over time in realizing its goals. Organizational development, therefore, seeks to improve organizational theory to make organizations more efficient and productive. Both OT and OD are future-oriented and are aimed at achieving long-term efficiency in business operations and problem-solving.
Organizational development is an ongoing systematic process whose aim is to achieve effective organizational change by applying the change techniques that are identified by the organizational theory. It means that the two organizational strategies must work together to achieve organizational goals and objectives. They are, therefore, interdependent.
Even though organizational theory and organizational development have different assumptions, they are both concerned with improving the performance of the organizations at all levels of operation (Scoot & Gerald 26).
Both the organizational theory and organizational development aims towards improving the performance of an organization. The methods and intervention theories between the two embrace such values as collaboration, trust, participation, empowerment as well as an open confrontation in case of conflict. The demand, regarding high performance among many organizations, is high and, therefore, both the OT and the OD ensure that effectiveness and efficiency are achieved.
The study of both the organizational theory and organizational development enables us to understand that organizations don’t exist in a vacuum and so they are dependent on the environment that they operate in i.e. both the internal as well as external environment.
Some of the issues, that both the OT and the OD addresses are the functions of the organization together with their employees. An organization is analyzed to ensure that the employee’s needs are being met. The employee’s skills, on the other hand, are evaluated to ensure that they work effectively to contribute success to the organization. Other issues that are addressed by the two include the optimization of the relationship that exists between organizational success and employee satisfaction.
The strategies of both the OT and the OD can be applied in enabling the employees to be more adaptable and committed, which in turn helps to improve the organization. Both the organizational theory and organizational development are interrelated in that the OT enables the identification of the gap, dissatisfaction in the organization, and the OD employs all the organizational members to fill the existing gap.
Both the OT and OD have changed the organizational practices, and the understanding of the two have aligned the employee attitude, the work culture, as well as inter-group and interpersonal relations (Spector 19-26). The increase in social, economic as well as ecological sustainability interest has led the organizations to consider OT and OD important as far as their effectiveness is concerned.
The most important stages in the organizational change process
Organizations are deemed to undergo some significant changes for them to develop. Managers and leaders have the role of ensuring that the change process is accomplished. To understand the stages that are involved in the change process, it is important to understand the reasons as to why the company’s changes.
Both internal and external factors influence change in organizations. The external factors that influence changes include the change in technology, inflation, new needs for customers, business takeovers such as merges and acquisitions, government changes, and changes in competitors. The internal influence includes the inability to attract skilled manpower and retaining them, the revision of the purpose and mission and thus leading to changes of objectives and goals, obsolescence of the technology, changes in personnel policy, poor cash flow, and the need to redeploy people in places where they will be more effective (Spector 19-26).
Kurt Lwei, who was a psychologist, came up with three stages that are involved in the change process, which include unfreezing, change behavior, and re-freezing. Unfreezing is usually the first stage as far as the change process is concerned and involves the unlearning of past behavior. The process starts when disconfirmation arises in the organization as a result of the cognitive dissonance. Cognitive dissonance as a concept of psychology refers to the incompatibility that exists between attitudes and behaviors and among the attitudes themselves. The inconsistencies that result from the desired state bring about uncomfortable, and so people seek ways that can help to minimize dissonance and discomfort at large.
Disconfirmation occurs as a result of the external pressures in the organization such as the pressure that the shareholders apply to the senior management for them to increase their investment returns. The dissonance in an organization may also result from the internal benchmarking evaluation whereby the research reveals certain areas that an organization needs to improve on, such as the desire to attract and retain skilled manpower. Unfreezing entails the dismantling of past learning and so, once a need is realized, the information search commences to determine the action that is needed to address the issue. Creative solutions are, thus, developed in case a problem exists.
The current situation, thus, needs to be revealed in the preparation for changes to be made during the unfreezing stage e.g. a company that has been experiencing absenteeism can bring it open and discuss it with the employees indicating all the negative effects on the organization (Vaill 144-146).
Having unfrozen the situation, it is then time to make appropriate changes. Changing behaviors is the second stage with regards to the change process and involves incorporating the newly developed behaviors into the organizational processes. The previous behaviors, as well as ideas that surround the culture of the organization, are replaced by the new behaviors. This calls for the organizational leaders as well as managers to develop the employee’s skills to enable them to perform duties differently effectively and efficiently.
Training is also necessary so as ensure that the employees clearly understand their significant roles in the change process, and, also, people and processes should be aligned to enhance the process of change. The functional job requirements should be communicated to the employees. In the case of absenteeism, change can involve a change of the working hours, the introduction of flexible work time e.g. (Spector 19-26).
Re-freezing the situation is the last stage as far as the change process is concerned, and it entails measuring and reinforcing the change in behavior and internalizing so that members won’t want the situation to be changed again. This stage requires that the changes be introduced to be consolidated in a new state of balance. If this is not done, the changes made may not survive, and people may slip back to their original state of affairs.
Refreezing can be done through the introduction of new rules which can guide the changes which have been introduced and also new procedures should be put into place to guide the new policies. The reporting relationships, reward system may be designed after the requirements for training are defined to assist in reinforcing the new behaviors. Promotions, bonuses, and performance appraisals should be dependent on the expected performance outcomes so that the employees can be able to change their behaviors (Vaill 144-146).
The change efforts need to be directed towards improving the performance of the organizations as well as those people who serve there. Once the change is implemented, employees tend to resist it due to such factors as the fear of losing one’s job, fear of the unknown, fear of losing prestige, misunderstanding, negative assessment concerning change, fear of losing what they value e.g. and so the management should minimize the resistance to change to reduce the time it takes for change to be accepted and implemented and also to ensure that the performance of the employees rebound more quickly.
The management, thus, needs to carry out the following to successfully implement change and keep resistance at a minimum level; high involvement of staff, reduce the fear of the insecurity, give employees the details concerning the proposed change, carry out the skill inventory so as facilitate the redeployment, retain employees to gain the required competence and enable them to work in the changed situation, preserve the existing staff workgroup, compensate those people who may suffer the financial losses as a result of the process of change, guarantee the previous income for some time (Spector 19-26).
Scoot, Richard & Garald, Davis. Organization and Organizing: Rational, Natural, and Open Systems Perspective. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall, 2007.
Spector, Bert. Implementing Organizational Change: Theory and Practice. Upper Saddle River, NJ: College Press, 2007.
Vaill, Peter. Managing as a Performing Art. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers, 1991.