November 29, 2012
Humanism is a fact-based philosophy that emphasizes the importance of reason and the indispensability of both evidence and compassion for others in the formation of values. Contemporary humanism acts primarily on the basis of other human beings. Humanists believe that the purposes of life are found in the meeting of human needs — intellectual, emotional, and spiritual — and in the fulfillment of human capabilities, mental and physical. Humanism coupled with organization development is a necessary component to the practice of organization development today.
What are humanistic values? Humanistic values vary just like people. Typically, people adapt their values to their life circumstances. Individuals upgrade the values they can readily attain and downgrade the importance of values whose pursuit is blocked (Schwartz & Bardi, 1997). Individual value priorities arise out of adaptation to life experiences.
Schwartz, comments that there are ten motivationally distinct values, and there are three universal requirements of the human condition: needs of individuals as biological organisms, requisites of coordinated social interaction, and survival and welfare needs of groups (Schwartz & Bardi, 1997). Significance of values also varies by individuals, lifestyles, and cultures.
Each of the ten basic humanistic values can be characterized by describing its central motivational goal. Below is a list of the ten humanistic values and their central motivational goals:
1. Self-Direction. Independent thought and action choosing, creating, exploring.
2. Stimulation. Excitement, novelty, and challenge in life.
3. Hedonism. Pleasure and sensuous gratification for oneself.
4. Achievement. Personal success through demonstrating competence according to
5. Power. Social status and prestige, control or dominance over people and resources.
6. Security. Safety, harmony, and stability of society, of relationships, and of self.
7. Conformity. Restraint of actions, inclinations, and impulses likely to upset or harm
others and violate social expectations or norms.
8. Tradition. Respect, commitment, and acceptance of the customs and ideas that
traditional culture or religion provides the self.
9. Benevolence. Preserving and enhancing the welfare of those with whom one is in
frequent personal contact (the `in-group`).
10. Universalism. Understanding, appreciation, tolerance, and protection for the welfare of all people and for nature.
(Schwartz & Bardi, 1997)
The big question is how humanistic values may be applied. One of the major applications of humanistic values is in organization development. Organization development is a reaction to change, a complex mix of educational strategy aimed at changing attitudes, beliefs, structure and values of an organization to enable them adaptability to the rapid rate of change, markets, challenges and new technologies (Bennis, 1969).
According to Bennis, organization development has the following characteristics. Below is a list of these characteristics and writing about them is vital to show the importance of humanistic values in organizational development.
* Organization development puts emphasis on processes and culture
* Organization development specifically supports working relationships between members overseeing processes and culture and leaders in organizations.
* Organization development targets all kinds of teams important for accomplishing tasks in an organization.
* Organization development mainly stresses the social and human side of an organization thereby intervening in the structural and technological sides.
* Organization development emphasizes on total change of systems and sees an organization as a complex social system.
* Organization development depends on a morganization developmental of action research with a wide participation by clientele of system members.
* Organization development adopts a development approach that looks for the betterment of both organization and individuals to achieve gain-gain solutions.
* Organization development consultants are collaborators, co learners and facilitators together with the client system.
Application of humanistic values may be demonstrated in the evolution of organizational development. The term Organization development came into use in the late 1950`s and early 1960`s describing a set of traditions entrenched in the behavioral sciences to formulate change that is planned in organizations (Argyris, 1985). Early consultants of organization development were influenced heavily by normative values and ideas based in humanistic psychology and social psychology. Organization development has the objective of improving an organization`s relationship with the outer environment and work internally to achieve efficiency and high work quality. Organization development deliberately puts emphasis on organizations to give rise to planned change. This is both an area of scientific enquiry and an applied field of social practice. Practitioners, including staff experts, consultants and managers use appropriate organization developments and knowledge to change organization processes, while those researching the processes come up with findings that can eventually be utilized elsewhere. Usually researchers and practitioners work closely applying knowledge and learning from their experiences, this makes practical distinction between knowledge generation and application difficult (Lawler, 1985). Therefore, organization development is referred to as “action science” that lays emphasis on knowledge development for application and learns from consequences (Argyris, 1985).
Organization development comprises a myriad of developments and concepts for revamping organizations. Although a number of definitions of organization development have been given by a number of philosophers among them Bennis, (1966) Beckhard, (1969) and Armstrong, (2009), significant growth of new techniques and approaches have crowded the borders of the field making it difficult to concisely describe.
Leavitt and Latané (1963) proposed that organizations could be built by changing one or three main factors – structure, technology and people. Peters and Waterman (1982) diversified the extent of factors in their organization developmentification of a seven-item context in their assessment of “excellence” in major American corporations included in their work “In Search of Excellence” this scenario was referred to as Mckisey 7-s framework that constituted the following factors of organizations like strategy, style, shared values, staff and system. Ford (1969) conducted a study on enriching a job and the success of organization development in major organizations like AT&T, which gave rise to quick spread of the organization development remedy to overhaul government, military and businesses.
Cummings and Srivastava (1977) concentrated on work concepts that stimulated both employee satisfaction and organization development activity. Socio-technical concepts also exhibited that tasks are highly interrelated and need fundamental decision making teams consisting of members diverse in skills that are able to arrive at appropriate decisions. Lawler (1981) studied organization development on the basis of effects of rewards on organizational performance, leading to remedies geared towards assuring more outcomes on performance. In the 1980`s “Gain sharing” in organization development gained a lot of attention which consisted of rewarding organization members a bonus calculated on measureable improvement in performance over a predetermined benchmark. Organization development traditionally takes care of all members of an organization unit and consists of performance indices that can be manipulated. To get gains in performance, members of an organization are accorded the leeway to make discoveries on ways of working effectively.
Recently organization development has been applied in revamping organizations to better position themselves with their environment and strategy. This kind of major reorganization has been more pronounced in the past 20 years due to organizations facing dynamic and complex environments that require far reaching changes on how they design themselves and compete Lawler, (1985). Yet again organization development has diversified to constitute the whole organization and the competitive environment in which it is. (Porter, 1980 and Hamel & Prahalad, 1994) notes that organization development has come up with remedies for analyzing the competitive nature in an organization and allowing appropriate amendments in tactic if necessary. This has come to be traditionally referred to as `SWOT analysis,” an organization`s opportunities and threats are compared to strengths and weaknesses available in its environment that it competes in. Porter, (1980) notes that after the analysis, the organization formulates strategies for accounting for the weaknesses and threats, thereby fully utilizing the opportunities available. Organization development has given rise to better ways that blend with organization development scenarios than the usual red-tape decision processes. These include high level-involvement in organizations that compel decision-making, knowledge and information and benefits that trickle down to the lowest cadre of the organization (Lawler, 1986) suppliers and customers, functional units and borderless organizations that seek to eradicate unwanted boundaries between progressive levels (Ashkenas, 1995) and institutions that emphasize on an organization`s area of competence called popularly `virtual organizations`, while contracting (outsourcing) most other functions to other organizations that perform them better (Porter, 1980). All the above structures are considerably flexible and lean to enable institutions to react quickly to dynamic situations. In line with the added organization developments, organization development has used recent work on knowledge management and organization learning to produce organizational change (Argyris, 1993). Such interventions equip organizations with the ability to learn continually, and utilize such knowledge effectively to gain knowledge from their actions. Teece (1998) found that capability for learning is necessary if organizations are to revamp themselves and to change continually. This will give organizations a significant advantage for competition in changing and complex environments.
Challenges to maintaining a humanistically based organization development practice
For over a decade, there have been unwavering questions and concerns raised by the practitioner and academic communities on the status of organization development. It has been noted that organization development is not performing the pivotal role at a time of fundamental organizational overhaul worldwide (Marshak, 2005). It is being pointed out that organization development in its early years advocated for invention of foundational terminology, and change in techniques and theories that are still in use to date. Earlier organization development practitioners worked hand in hand with heads of major divisions and heads of operations in organizations to create change in organizations that were highly bureaucratic. Nowadays, a significant number of those who practice organization development get themselves working at higher levels on bigger changes that have been changing industries and organizations for the past one or two decades.
Organization development is regarded by some as obsolete, and by numerous others as having been sidelined or even being inappropriate to the focal transformation factors that face operation heads of organization development organizations. As organization development has been waning in popularity and effect, another concept has been on the rise geared towards achieving organizational transformation, also referred to as `change management` fronted by significant management consulting organization development at the global level like BearingPoint (formerly KPMG), IBM Business Consulting Services (which acquired PriceWaterhouseCoopers Consulting), Cap Gemini Ernst and Young and Accenture (formerly Andersen Consulting). Practitioners of change management have taken over and nowadays work in partnership with operation heads in organizations and major division heads in changing corporations in the world (Marshak, 2005). Those practicing organization development have been left longing to be included, but most of the times working at lower levels of organizations on less focal matters and with non-profit organizations and associations or smaller organizations. The fundamental controversies and challenges facing organization development currently include its relative lack of ability to respond to a number of trends in business since the 1980`s.
Role of humanistic values, principles, and practices in the practice of organization developmental
One legacy that sets organization development apart from change management practitioners is its underlying humanistic values that comprise: responsibility, respect for human dignity, freedom, integrity, responsibility and justice (Wheatley, 2006). Social scientists and psychologists bent on marginalizing workers fronted a solid values-oriented study of motivation, management and leadership. Organization development consultants appreciate the benefits of motivated staff in an organization, a phenomenon that has increasingly become significant in the knowledge economy where people stand for intellectual capital and talent. The principle of organization development projects is that the process of change should give rise to more humanistic organizations with greater focus on freedom, empowerment, creativity and human development to enhance organizational effectiveness, efficiency and economic gain. For instance Bennis (1966) asserted that “The predicament we confront, then, concerns organization development organization developments that maximize freedom and limits as little as possible the potentialities of growth organization developments that will realize man`s dignity as well as bring into fruition desirable social goals”. As an organization development consultant there is a need to embrace aspects of change management that will give results that are sustainable for both organizations and employees over time.
The Future of Organization development
There are many contradicting opinions of the future status of organization development. The science of organization development faces many challenges because of the uncertainty of maintaining efficiency. Research into organization development by Bunker, Alban, and Lewicki (2004) proposes six areas that could revitalize the field of organizational development in the future: virtual teams, conflict resolution, work group effectiveness, social network analysis, trust, and intractable conflict. The hope is that organization development will narrow the gap between academic research, and practice.
In the future of organization development, you will the use of more values in fostering appropriate organizational culture and leadership. Ideas such as team building, diversity and, systemic integration are some of the most popular trending organization development ideas.
There is also continued interest in addressing an organization`s needs and goals with the needs, wants, and personal satisfaction of its employees. The pressures of competitiveness for an organization will drive the advancement of organization development, psychology and systems theories.
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