Action Research Model of Organizational Development

The O.D. process can be conveniently presented in the form of action research model. O.D. emphasizes the process solving and trains the participants to identify and solve problems that are important to them. For this purpose, various steps of O.D.-problem identification and diagnosis, planning for change, interventions for change and evaluation of change are undertaken on continuous and cyclical basis. This cyclical process of using research to guide action, which generates new data as the basis for new actions, is known as action research. French and Bell have defined action research as follows :

Action Research Activities

Fig. 10.1: Action Research Activities

"Action research is the process of systematically collecting research data about an ongoing system relating to some objective, goal, or need of that system; feeding these data back into the system; taking actions by altering selected variables within the system based on the data and on hypothesis; and evaluating the results of actions of actions by collecting more data".

Various activities involved in action research are presented in Fig. 10.1.

Techniques of Organizational Development or Organizational Development Interventions

According to French and Bell, "Organizational development interventions are sets of structured activities in which selected organizational units (target groups or individuals) engage with a task or a sequence of tasks where the task goals are related directly or indirectly to organizational improvement. Interventions constitute the action thrust of organization development, they make things happen and are what is happening".

Several techniques have been included under the O.D. programme. The most popular among them are as explained below :

1. Sensitivity Training

Sensitivity training is also known as T-groups (T for training). This technique is based on the assumption that a manager's behaviour is not how he thinks, he behaves but how others view his behaviour. The basic objective of sensitivity training is to change the behaviour of the people through unstructured group interactions. With this training a person understands how his behaviour affects others and his reaction to the behaviour of others. T-groups have the following characteristic features :

C) Members (10 to 15 individuals) are brought together in a free and open environment, away for work places.

(ii) No formal agenda is provided for the meeting.

(iii) The participants discuss themselves freely aided by a facilitator. The role of facilitator is to c attention from time to time to the ongoing process within the group.

The procedure tends to develop introspection and self-examination, individual personality a

(iv) group interaction, processes and relationship become the focus of discussion. The role of facilitator is to create an opportunity for the members to express their ideas, beliefs and attitude

In short, the basic objectives of the T-groups are to provide the participants with increased awareness of their own behaviour and how others perceive them, greater sensitivity to the behaviour or others and increased understanding of group process.

Benefits of T-groups

Sensitivity training represents a valuable psychological experience and a highly effective approach for improving of interpersonal relationships. It offers the following benefits :

C) People who are more open to feedback, learn more about themselves in several of the sessions and acquire increased self-awareness.

(ii) It develop insights into how the participants react to others and how others react to them.

(iii) It helps to understand group process and inter-personal group relations and how to many people through means other than power.

(iv) It helps to assess one's values and goals as a result of the analysis of direct experiences. These sessions have helped aggressive individuals to become friendly, timid persons to become

(v) more assertive and outwardly brusque managers to change their behaviors to exhibit mo empathy.

Two studies one by Argyris and another by Sikes found support for the effectiveness of laboratory training in improving social sensitivity and effectiveness behaviour in groups.

Limitations of T-Groups

Critics point out that all the above positive effects are felt only during the training period. Aw

(i) from the course, the individual find themselves with the same traits which they possessed befor participating in the sensitivity sessions.

(ii) The contribution of sensitivity training to individual and group performance is also questioned.

(iii) All the benefits accrued from the experiences are so short lived so as to make the experience waste of time and money.

(iv) It forces many individuals to undergo a personality-humiliating and anxiety provoke experience from which they might not recover.

(v) It strips some people of defenses which they badly need and provides them with nothing replace these defenses.

(vi) It encourages behavioural modes that are acceptable in the laboratory but unacceptable in mo organizational settings.

(vii) It encourages and coerces individuals to reveal aspects about themselves that constitute invasion of privacy, thus harboring later resentment in participants.

To sum up, sensitivity training has both strong and weak points. It is essential for the management to take adequate steps to remove the deficiencies of sensitivity training. If used with care, it can be of great value in overcoming resistance and introducing change in the organization.

1. Grid Training and Development

Blake and Mouton's Managerial Grid is one of the most important approaches to the concept of O.D. The managerial grid, also known as the grid training aims at attaining much more than the development and growth of the individual managers. It is a technique which integrates individual, team and organizational development. This model depicts two prevailing concerns found in all organizations-concern for productivity and concern for people. Some managers are high in concern for productivity but low in concern for people. Managerial Grid, helps the managers in evaluating their concern for people and productivity. It also stresses the importance of team-management leadership styles.

In grid O.D., the consultant uses questionnaires to determine the existing styles of managers, help them to re-examine their own styles and work towards maximum effectiveness. A grid O.D. programme has the following six stages :

Training : In the first stage, the managers learn about grid concepts and how they are applied,

(i) week long seminars. They assess their own managerial styles and work on improving such ask as team development, group problem solving and communication. After appropriate instruction these key managers will work to implement the grid programme throughout the organization.

Team Development : This is an extension of first stage. Members of the same department

(ii) brought together to discuss how they are going to attain a 9, 9 position on the grid. In this start what was learned in the training stage is applied to the actual organizational situation. Intergroup Development : Whereas the first two stages are aimed at managerial development this phase marks the beginning of overall organizational development. There is a shift from mi

(iii) level of individual and group development to a macro level of group to group organization development. The main focus is on improving co-ordination and co-operation among w groups. Intergroup tensions are dealt with openly and joint problem solving procedures adopted.

Organizational Goal Setting : In the manner of management by objectives, in this stage,

(iv) participate contribute to and agree upon the important goals of the organization. A sense commitment and self-control is instilled in the participants as the managers and subordinate work together throughout the organization.

Goal Attainment : In the stage, the participants attempt to accomplish the goals which they

(v) in the fourth stage. Each subunit examines how their activities should be carried out in order achieve excellence and they proceed to take whatever corrective actions are necessary.

Stabilization : In this stage, all the efforts from stage (i) to stage (v) are evaluated and critic

(vi) analysis is made. The analysis will bring about the shortcomings that may be there. In this various programmes may be redesigned.

2. Process Consultation

According to Egdar Schein, "Process consultation includes a set of activities on the part of consultant which helps the client to perceive, understand and act upon process events which occur, in the client's environment".

Process consultation assumes that an organization's effectiveness depends upon how well its people relate to one another. Being not a member of the organization, the external consultant is in a better position to suggest remedies to the problems being faced by the organization by adequately diagnosing the same on the basis of better understanding of the external environmental factors affecting the organization. Major concern areas of process consultation are :

♦ Intergroup processes

♦ Group problem solving and decision making

♦ Communication

♦ Group norms and growth

♦ Functional roles of group members

♦ Leadership and authority.

The assumptions underlying the process consultation model are :

(i) Manager often need special diagnostic help in knowing what is wrong with the organization. Most managers have constant desire to increase organizational effectiveness, but they need h

(ii) in deciding how to achieve it.

(...) Managers can be effective if they learn to diagnose their own strengths and weaknesses with exhaustive and time consuming study of the organization.

The outside consultant cannot learn enough about the culture of the organization, to suggest ne

(iv) reliable courses of action. He should, therefore, work jointly with the members of organizations.

The client must learn to see the problem for himself, understand the problem and suggest

(v) remedy. The consultant should provide new and challenging alternatives for the client consider. However, the decision making authority on these alternatives about organization changes remain with the client.

It is essential that the process consultant is an expert in diagnosing and establishing effect

(vi) helping relationships with the client. Effective process consultation involves passing those ski to the client.

The various stages, suggested by Schein in the process consultation technique are explained as follows :

C) Initiate Contract : This is where the client contracts the consultant with a problem that can be solved by normal organizational procedures or resources.

Define the Relationship : In this step, the consultant and the client enter into both a for (ii) contract, spelling out services, time and fees and a psychological contract. The latter explains t expectations of results on both the clients and consultant's sides. (...)

Select a Setting and a Method : This stage involves an understanding of how and where consultant will do the job that needs to be done.

Gather data and Make a Diagnosis : Through a survey, using questionnaires, observations a (iv) interviews, the consultant makes a preliminary diagnosis. This data gathering occur simultaneously with the entire consultative process. ( )

Intervene : Agenda setting, feedback, coaching and/or structural interventions can be made

the process consultation approach. ( .)

Reduce Involvement and Terminate : The consultant disengages from the client organization by mutual agreement but leaves the door open for future involvement.

This technique helps a lot in solving intergroup and interpersonal problems faced by the organization. Though help is taken from the external consultant, that help is indirect. Generally, the organizations help themselves.

The biggest drawback of this method is that the participant's involvement in the process is not that sharp and important and moreover a span of 2-3 years is required which needs lot of commitment and cost.

3. Team Development

Team development is a process diagnosing and improving the effectiveness of a work group with particular attention to work procedures and interpersonal relationships within it, especially the role of the leader in relation to other group members. A team building programme deals with new problems on an ongoing basis. It is an effective technique by which members of a group diagnose how they work together and plan changes that will improve their effectiveness. The work group problems may be of two types :

(i) Task Related Conflicts : The task related conflicts can be streamlined by changing the ways things are done, by redirecting the resources to be utilized and by re-examining the work processes.

(ii) Personality Conflicts : The interpersonal relationships within the team can be improved by creating an environment which is open and trustworthy. In this atmosphere, members can freely communicate their feelings and thoughts, leadership evolves on the basis of respect and functional excellence and where conflicts are resolved on the basis of mutual understanding. As a technique of O.D., team building requires the help of a skilled consultant to increase the effectiveness of the group's tasks and maintenance roles. Feedback is another important component of team building which is provided by the consultant during or after the meeting to increase, the effectiveness of both the groups as well as the members.

There are three approaches to team development :

(i) The consultant will interview members of the team individually to know their feelings, attitudes and perceptions of team effectiveness. After that, the consultant will arrange a meeting of group away from the organization and provide them feedback data which will be discussed in detail. The set of priorities will be worked out and action plan will be formulated for resolving the problem.

(ii) In this approach, each team member will discuss with another member his perceived roles and also team feeling, so as to make more meaningful and productive contribution. This exercise will help in removing most of misunderstandings existing between team members and also ensure that each team member accepts his role as well as the role of other team members.

(iii) The consultant will regularly attend the team meeting. He will observe how the team is accomplishing the group tasks and maintaining roles. Thus, he will concentrate on the process than the contents. After that he will suggest the steps to improve the effectiveness of the working of the groups.

Team building is both a time consuming and exhausting intervention technique, but very useful if managed skillfully.

4. Survey Feedback

Survey feedback is one of the most popular and widely used intervention techniques in the field of O.D. This approach was first developed at the institute of Social Research of University of Michigan. The main aim of this technique is to get teams in the organization to devise better processes for handling the issues facing them. Survey Feedback involves two basic activities :

(i) Collecting data about the organization through the use of surveys of questionnaires.

(ii) Conducting feedback meeting and workshops in which the data are presented to organizational members.

Using standardized questionnaires data are collected from organizational members about individual attitudes, organizational climate and the general health of the enterprise. The questionnaires are distributed to all the members of the organization, completed and returned to the change agent for tallying and analysis. These data are then fed back to the top management and other participating groups down through the hierarchy. During the final step of the process, organizational leaders conduct group meetings with the change agent, help in when the questionnaire results are discussed, problems are identified and corrective strategies are developed.

Survey feedback is useful in the following situations :

(i) It helps in bringing about changes in attitudes and perceptions of participants.

(ii) When used along with team building, the impact of survey feedback is more positive.

(iii) It is most effective in improving teams whose members already possess a high degree of conceptual skill and are dealing with long term issues. This approach is less useful with teams which are concerned essentially with day to day activities and short term results.

5. Third Party Peace Making

Third party peace making as the name suggests, focuses on the interventions by a third party to resolve the conflicting situations. It is aimed at the analysis of involved processes, diagnose the conflict's causes and with the assistance of a third party consultant resolves the conflict effectively. Richard Walton suggests that in third party peace making, the fundamental concept is that the consultant will make the two disagreeing parties to confront or to face up to the fact that a conflict does exist and it is impairing the effectiveness of both. The consultant will use the right intervention techniques for facilitating the significant issues involved in the conflict to surface. These techniques may be :

(i) Wisely choosing the place.

(ii) Selecting the proper environment.

(iii) Using effective intervention strategies.

(iv) Setting an appropriate agenda for the meeting.

(v) Helping the parties in conflict to own up to their problems and find solutions.

Where the issues involved in the conflict are of a substantive nature, the peace maker will concentrate on the parties engaging in problem solving through rational bargaining behaviors. On the other hand, if the conflict is emotional in nature, the consultant might have to work hard at restructuring the perceptions and facilitate understanding between the parties involved.

6. Role Playing

Role playing technique is used for human relations and leadership training. Its objective is very narrow i.e., to increase the trainee's skill in dealing with others. It can be used in human relations training and sales training because both these involve dealing with other. The steps involved in this method are as explained below :

(i) A conflict situation is artificially created and two or more trainers are assigned different roles to play. No dialogue is given before hand.

(ii) The role players are provided with either a written or oral description of the situation and the role they are to play.

(iii) After being given sufficient time to plan their action, they must act their parts spontaneously before the class.

Advantages : Role playing has a number of advantages such as :

(i) It provides an opportunity for developing human relations understanding and skills and to put into practice the knowledge they have acquired from textbooks, lectures, discussions etc.

(ii) It is learning by doing. The interview may be recorded to provide the trainees a chance to listen to their performance and note their strengths and weaknesses.

(iii) The knowledge of results is immediate because the trainees as well as the observers analyze the behaviour of the role players.

7. Structural Techniques

The O.D. techniques discussed till now are behaviorist in nature. In addition to these, there are structural approaches also as a part of the O.D. programme. These approaches may include the following :

(i) Change in the organization's formal structure

(ii) Job redesigning

(iii) Job enlargement

(iv) Job enrichment

(v) Management by objectives

(vi) Training and career development

(vii) Modifications of the organizational culture.

Depending upon the circumstances, the organizations can use any of the above mentioned O.D. techniques for enhancing the opportunities for growth and development of individuals, groups and the organizational system itself. Organizations should also subscribe to certain values so as to make O.D. effective.

 
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