Skip to main content

The tyranny of change: Organizational Development revisited

Abstract

The premise of this paper is that planned organizational change, commonly known as organizational development, induces compliance and conformity in organizational members and thereby increases the power of management. These consequences occur because organizational development efforts create uncertainty, interfere with the informal organization, reinforce the position of management, and further entrench management purposes. These consequences occur regardless of the intentions of management and regardless of whether the goals of the organizational development intervention were achieved. Instead of examining these consequences, practitioners and theorists have engaged in self-deception and depoliticized the practice of induced organizational change by creating a field known as Organizational Development.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

References

  1. Albanese, R.: 1970, ‘Overcoming Resistance to Stability’,Business Horizons 13, pp. 35–45.

    Google Scholar 

  2. Baritz, L.: 1960,Servants of Power (Wesleyan University Press, Connecticut).

    Google Scholar 

  3. Beckhard, R.: 1969,OD: Strategies and Models (Addison-Westley, Massachusetts).

    Google Scholar 

  4. Bennet, T., III: 1961,Planning for Change (Leadership Resources, Washington D.C.).

    Google Scholar 

  5. Bennis, W.: 1969,Organizational Development: Its Nature, Origins, and Prospects (Addison-Westley, Massachusetts).

    Google Scholar 

  6. Bermant, G. and D. Warwick: 1978, ‘The Ethics of Social Intervention: Power, Freedom, and Accountability’, in G. Bermant, H. Kelman, and D. Warwick (eds.),The Ethics of Social Intervention (Hemisphere Publishing, Washington, D.C.).

    Google Scholar 

  7. Blake, R. and J. Mouton: 1982,Productivity: The Human Side (Amacom, New York).

    Google Scholar 

  8. Blau, P.: 1964,Exchange and Power in Social Life (Wiley, London).

    Google Scholar 

  9. Brimm, M.: 1972, ‘When is a Change not a Change’,Journal of Applied Behavioral Science 8, pp. 102–107.

    Google Scholar 

  10. Chesler, M. and O. Worden: 1974, ‘Persistent Problems in Power and Social Change’,Journal of Applied Behavioral Science 10, pp. 462–472.

    Google Scholar 

  11. Clegg, S. and D. Dunkerley: 1980,Organization, Class and Control (Routledge & Kegan Paul, London).

    Google Scholar 

  12. Crozier, M.: 1964,The Bureaucratic Phenomenon (Tavistock, London).

    Google Scholar 

  13. Emerson, R.: 1962, ‘Power-Dependency Relations’,American Sociological Review 27, pp. 31–41.

    Google Scholar 

  14. French, W. and C. Bell Jr.: 1990,Organizational Development: Behavioral Science Interventions for Organization Improvement (Prentice-Hall, New Jersey).

    Google Scholar 

  15. French, J. and B. Raven: 1959, ‘The Bases of Social Power’, in D. Cartwright (ed.),Studies in Social Power (Institute of Social Research, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor).

    Google Scholar 

  16. Friedlander, F. and L. Brown: 1974, ‘Organizational Development’,Annual Review of Psychology (Annual Reviews, California).

    Google Scholar 

  17. Gibson, T.: 1983, ‘The Effects of Perceived Frequency of Organizational Change on Role Clarity and Job Satisfaction of Public Sector Employees’,Journal of Social Service Research 6, pp. 17–35.

    Google Scholar 

  18. Guzzo, R., R. Jette and R. Katzel: 1985, ‘The Effects of Psychologically Based Intervention Programs on Worker Productivity: A Meta-Analysis’,Personnel Psychology 38, pp. 275–291.

    Google Scholar 

  19. Hall, D., S. Rabinowitz, J. Goodale, and M. Morgan: 1978, ‘Effects of Top-Down Departmental and Job Change Upon Perceived Employee Behavior and Attitudes: A Natural Field Experiment’,Journal of Applied Psychology 1, pp. 62–72.

    Google Scholar 

  20. Hickson, D., C. Hinings, C. Lee, R. Schneck, and J. Pennings: 1971, ‘A Strategic Contingencies Theory of Intraorganizational Power’,Administrative Science Quarterly 17, pp. 216–229.

    Google Scholar 

  21. Hoffer, E.: 1963,The Ordeal of Change (Harper and Row, New York).

    Google Scholar 

  22. Holmes, T. and R. Rahe: 1967, ‘The Social Readjustment Rating Scale’,Journal of Psychosomatic Research 11, pp. 213–218.

    Google Scholar 

  23. Jacobs, D.: 1974, ‘Dependency and Vulnerability: An Exchange Approach to the Control of Organizations’,Administrative Society Quarterly 20, pp. 45–59.

    Google Scholar 

  24. Kaplan, A.: 1964, ‘Power in Perspective’, in R. Kahn and E. Boulding (eds.),Power and Conflict in Organizations (Tavistock, London).

    Google Scholar 

  25. Kelman, H.: 1965, ‘Manipulation of Human Behavior: An Ethical Dilemma for the Social Scientist’,Journal of Social Issues 21, pp. 31–46.

    Google Scholar 

  26. Kelman, H. and D. Warwick: 1978, ‘The Ethics of Social Intervention: Goals, Means, and Consequences’, in G. Zaltman (ed.),Processes and Phenomena of Social Change (Wiley, New York).

    Google Scholar 

  27. King, A.: 1974, ‘Expectation Effects in Organizational Change’,Administrative Science Quarterly 20, pp. 221–230.

    Google Scholar 

  28. Kirkpatrick, D.: 1986,How to Manage Change Effectively (Jossey-Bass, California).

    Google Scholar 

  29. Lawler, E., J. Hackman and S. Kaufman: 1973, ‘Effects of Job Redesign: A Field Experiment’,Journal of Applied Social Psychology 3, pp. 49–62.

    Google Scholar 

  30. Lippitt, R.: 1981,Making Organizations Humane and Productive (Wiley, New York).

    Google Scholar 

  31. Mannheim, K.: 1941, ‘Man and Society in an Age of Reconstruction’, in W. Bennis, K. Benne and R. Chin (eds),The Planning of Change (Holt, Rinehart and Winston, New York).

    Google Scholar 

  32. Mayo, E.: 1975,The Social Problems of Industrial Civilization (Routledge & Kegan Paul, London).

    Google Scholar 

  33. Nadler, D.: 1981, ‘Managing Organizational Change: An Integrative Perspective’,Journal of Applied Behavioral Science 17, pp. 191–211.

    Google Scholar 

  34. Nadler, D. and P. Pecorella: 1975, ‘Differential Effects of Multiple Interventions in an Organization’,Journal of Applied Behavioral Science 11, pp. 348–366.

    Google Scholar 

  35. Nicholas, J.: 1982, ‘The Comparative Impact of Organization Development Interventions on Hard Criteria Measures’,Academy of Management Review 7, pp. 531–542.

    Google Scholar 

  36. Odirone, G.: 1981,The Change Resistors (Prentice-Hall, New Jersey).

    Google Scholar 

  37. Parsons, T.: 1937,The Structure of Social Action (Free Press, Illinois).

    Google Scholar 

  38. Porras, J. and O. Berg: 1978, ‘Evaluation Methodology in Organizational Development’,Journal of Applied Behavioral Science 14, pp. 151–173.

    Google Scholar 

  39. Porras, J., P. Robertson and L. Goldman: 1991, ‘Organization Development: Theory, Practice, and Research’, in M. Dunnette (ed.),Handbook of Industrial/Organizational Psychology (Consulting Psychologists Press, California).

    Google Scholar 

  40. Ramsay, H.: 1977, ‘Cycles of Control: Worker Participation in Sociological and Historical Perspective’,Sociology, pp. 481–506.

  41. Rosner, M.: 1980, ‘Self Management in Kibbutz Industry: Organizational Patterns as Determinants of Psychological Effects’, in U. Leviatan and M. Rosner (eds.),Work and Organization in Kibbutz Industry (Northwood Editions, Pennsylvania).

    Google Scholar 

  42. Russell, R., A. Hochner and S. Perry: 1979, ‘Participation, Influence and Worker-Ownership’,Industrial Relations 8, pp. 330–341.

    Google Scholar 

  43. Silverman, D.: 1970,The Theory of Organizations (Heinemann, London).

    Google Scholar 

  44. Strauss, G.: 1963, ‘Some Notes on Power Equalization’, in H. Leavitt (ed.),The Social Science of Organizations: Four Perspectives (Prentice-Hall, New Jersey).

    Google Scholar 

  45. Thibaut, J. and H. Kelly: 1959,The Social Psychology of Groups (Wiley, New York).

    Google Scholar 

  46. Walter, G.: 1984, ‘OD and Individual Rights’,Journal of Applied Behavioral Science 20, pp. 423–439.

    Google Scholar 

  47. Walton, R.: 1978, ‘Ethical Issues in the Practice of Organizational Development’, in G. Bermant, H. Kelman and D. Warwick (eds.),The Ethics of Social Intervention (Hemisphere Publishing, Washington, D.C.).

    Google Scholar 

  48. Warwick, D.: 1978, ‘Moral Dilemmas in Organizational Development’, in G. Bermant, H. Kelman and D. Warwick (eds.),The Ethics of Social Intervention (Hemisphere Publishing, Washington, D.C.).

    Google Scholar 

  49. Warwick, D. and H. Kelman: 1973, ‘Ethical Issues in Social Intervention’, in G. Zaltman (eds.),Process and Phenomena of Social Change (John Wiley & Sons, New York).

    Google Scholar 

  50. Watson, G.: 1969, ‘Resistance to Change’, in W. Bennis, K. Benne and R. Chin (eds.),The Planning of Change (Holt, Rinehart, & Winston, New York).

    Google Scholar 

  51. Watzlawick, P., J. Weakland and R. Fisch: 1974,Change (W.W. Norton and Company, New York).

    Google Scholar 

  52. Weisbord, M.: 1974, ‘The Gap Between Organizational Development Practice and Theory’,Journal of Applied Behavioral Science 10, pp. 476–484.

    Google Scholar 

  53. Williams, R. and R. Witte: 1978, ‘Education as a Force for Change in Mental Health Settings’,Community Mental Health Journal 2, pp. 123–132.

    Google Scholar 

  54. Woodworth, W., G. Meyer and N. Smallwood: 1982, ‘Organization Development: A Closer Scrutiny’,Human Relations 4, pp. 307–319.

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Additional information

Marie McKendall, Ph.D. is an Assistant Professor of management at the Seidman School of Business, Grand Valley State University, Allendale, Michigan. Her research interests are primarily in the areas of corporate crime and management ethics.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

McKendall, M. The tyranny of change: Organizational Development revisited. J Bus Ethics 12, 93–104 (1993). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00871929

Download citation

Keywords

  • Economic Growth
  • Organizational Development
  • Development Effort
  • Organizational Change
  • Development Intervention