Organization Development has developed from a mixture of human resource and organizational behaviour research and theory. For many OD may appear to be a new trend, but it has been around since the early part of the 20th Century when the Hawthorne experiments began in 1927 which took a scientific approach to restructuring the organizational environment to improve organizational efficiency.
Despite efforts to improve work performance through systems, processes and technology there was a failure to improve efficiency and effectiveness, and this led to research into the socio-psychological factors of work processes or rather the human factors. WWII furthered the research into social sciences and the impact of behaviour on organizational workings. Focus areas included leadership and team work and the importance of these on morale, which was an early development in the field of motivation, group dynamics and leadership.
Applied social science began to focus on harmonizing the individual and organizational factors from the perspective of human needs and behavioural sciences developed as a new discipline in social science. Through the development of Action Research, T-groups, Force Field Analysis, and collaborative approaches to effective change OD as we know it today emerged.
OD begins with diagnosis of the problems at individual, group and organizational level. Interventions are developed, using a number of specific OD tools and techniques which have been developed on the back of core theories relating to planned change methodologies and complexity, which acknowledges that although interventions can be designed and developed as part of a linear process, change is complex, iterative and unfolds over a period of time.
Central to all OD interventions, is the belief that people have a unique ability to creatively employ their capabilities to develop new outcomes in regards to organizational performance, and that they are the most important element of the organizational system. Utilizing systems thinking, behavourial research and Human Resource Theory OD is dedicated to humanistic principles in managing organizational change.