This essay seeks to understand how Organisational Development focuses on the planned approaches and implementing the changes required to achieve organisational strategic objectives or goals. Important steps are taken by the top management of the organisation to ensure the performance or progress of the organisation as well as the various members of the organisation. So, that there is proper utilization of the various human, financial and technological resources available.
Whereas, Action Research is concerned with finding out the facts and ways of doing things by taking certain steps such as interviewing, collecting past records, form filling, questionnaires etc. Action research is of various types and researchers carry on their research in different ways. It is about improving personal development and knowledge and professional practice.
“Organisational Development embraces a wide range of intervention strategies into the social process of an organisation. These intervention strategies are aimed at the development of individuals, groups and the organisation as a total system” (Mullins, 2002, p.799). It is about bringing changes in the organisation by taking deliberate planned steps to achieve organisational objectives. Organisational Development activities involve fitting individual behaviour into an organisational plan.
Organisation Development (OD) focuses on activities to improve organisation’s systems’ and process. It is about people in organisations and how they function. “OD is a set of values, assumptions and ethics that emphasise its humanistic orientation and its commitment to organisational effectiveness” (Burnes, 2004, p.267).
Importance of Organisational Development
OD plays a very important role in an organisation. It is a continuous process as activities taking place in an organisation is on daily basis so changes are to be made regularly. It includes observing and implementing changes accordingly which is done by establishing clear outcomes and measures to track and evaluate progress and organisational goals. Thus it fosters great sense of organisational purpose. (www.lg-employers.gov.uk)
OD is a high level, strategic activity which requires strong leadership and influence and involves diverse range of behaviours, skills and knowledge. It defines the work to be done by the different members of the organisation. Its planned approach resolves group conflicts and improves their performance with less effort than would otherwise be necessary by brining together managers, employees and other staff members. In this way it enables better use of financial, human and technological resources. (www.lg-employers.gov.uk)
Activities Involved in Organisational Development
OD’s main aim is to identify the key priorities and organisational purpose. For this reason the obstacles or organisational capability gaps are analysed and steps are taken to overcome these problems by properly defining the way of doing things. Managers promote creativity and innovation among their colleagues and ensure that they understand why the organisation must develop and how they can contribute. Hence in this way OD promotes team-building activities. Mechanisms are developed so that there is no communication gap and bringing different parts of the organisation together to share development activities. A trained consultant is also appointed to observe the group processes for example, communication, decision making, individual roles, and group climate and provides feedback to the group. These consultants or observers also provide some suggestions or guidelines on how the group can improve its effectiveness. (www.lg-employers.gov.uk)
Figure 1 show how organisational development activities take place in an organisation. Firstly, all key factors affecting the performance of the organisation are identified by holding brainstorming meetings by the management. Then the members of the organisation forms team to work on the affected area and make a project with certain objectives to achieve the goal. After getting approval from the top management it is the responsibility of the middle management or change project team to see that everything goes in planned way. Now the project is handed to the small working teams. These teams take certain important steps like identifying the tasks to be performed, introduction of new technology, software development, office relocation etc. Their performance is regularly checked by holding replanning sessions. Ultimately, in this way organisational objectives are achieved.
Source: (Walker, Takavarasha, 1999)
“Action Research focuses on the ‘I’, the self studying the self, but it is done with and for other people. The aim of action research is personal development for social transformation, so it is essentially collaborative” (Mc Niff, Lomax and Whitehead, 2000, p. 30). It is an intellectual process in which different actions or decisions are taken, based on facts, purpose etc.
It is an effort made by the members of an organisation specially the top management to formulate important policies, strategies and objectives to overcome or improve the quality and the performance of the organisation. It is basically a presentation of ones idea and experience and thus helps to improve personal knowledge, professional skill etc. (Mc Niff et al., 2000)
To make it simpler and easier to understand the word “Action Research” can be broken into two words i.e. “action” and “research” and finding out different words for them respectively such as:
Source: (Mc Niff et al., 2000)
Importance of Action Research
Action Research has a very important role to play in an organisational development, progress or working because it is concerned with the formulation of all important plans, goals and objectives of an organisation and identifying or observing the barriers effecting its performance. Its main aim is to find out what is to be done and how it is to be done and appointing or selecting the right person for getting the work to be done. It improves ones knowledge and practice in their respective professional field as it is concerned with finding out something that one does not know before by collecting data and analysing them. It basically involves application of skills and other people’s views are also taken into account (Mc Niff et al., 2000). It designs various ideas relating to motivation, innovation, creativity, development, leadership etc for improving the performance of the organisation.
Activities Involved in Action Research
Action Research is about making a clear picture of the various processes to be performed for a better management functioning by setting up certain principles and procedures. It is very complicated and involves a lot of activities. It includes over viewing current performance of the organisation and identifying its defects in various part of the management. Information is collected on the particular issue or problem by the collecting data by the means of interviewing, questionnaires, form filling etc. Then these data are analysed i.e. selecting, reading or comparing the information collected. Now new methods and procedures are formulated and implemented by the top management or the researchers accordingly. Changes in the working or performance of the organisation are observed and modified action is evaluated to know how successful it is. This process is repeated till the best result and the satisfaction is obtained (Mc Niff et al., 2000).
The concept of Organisational Development (OD) is defined as a planned approach initiated by the top management to improve organisational effectiveness through carefully designed interventions in the organisation’s processes, basically through changes in people’ variables such as values, belief, attitudes, behaviour and interpersonal relations of members of an organisation. In other words, it is action- oriented and adapted to achieve specific organisational needs or objectives.
Where as, action research is a research which defines the various processes, principles and procedures of the organisation or management. It identifies the policies on the basis of which the functioning of the organisation is depended. For this purpose the various information are collected and analysed or compared with the previous data by the means of interviewing, questionnaires etc. It helps in the improvement of the personal development, knowledge and professional skill. It focuses on personal research but other people’s views are also taken into account as a source of information.
Mullins, L. (2002), Management And Organisational Behaviour, Sixth Edition, Prentice Hall, England.
Burnes, B. (2004), Managing Change, Fourth Edition, Prentice Hall, England.
Boddy, D. (2005), Management An Introduction, Third Edition, Prentice Hall, England.
Mc Niff, J., Lomax, P. and Whitehead, J. (2000), You and Your Action Research Project, Hyde Publication, London.
Walker, H. and Takavarasha, T. (1999), “Organisational developments in the public service: The case of self-regulatory change teams in The Ministry of Agriculture in Zimbabwe”, Journal of Organization Development, Volume 17(2), p. 23 (9 pp.).
Taylor, S. (2004), “Presentational Form in First Person Research”, Journal of Action Research, Volume 2(1), p. 71-88
Employers’ Organisation for local government (2005) Citing references [www] Available from: www.lg-employers.gov.uk (Accessed 20th October 2005)