The purpose of this paper is to critically examine whether organizational development (OD), as described in academic writing on the topic, is reflected in practice in the Human Resources (HR) profession in the UK. This research aims to compare the results of an exploratory investigation to establish the main elements of OD practice in this professional group with academic definitions.
The approach applied in this paper comprises a review of the academic literature on OD combined with an exploratory study by way of content analysis of job advertisements for OD professionals within the UK HR profession. Comparison between what the literature suggests companies should seek in the way of OD practice within the HR profession and the operationalisation of what they are actually requiring (deduced through the content of job advertisements) forms the basis of the methodology.
While there are features of the academic definitions which do appear prominently in practice (in particular “change management”), there are also significant differences. In particular OD roles in practice in the HR profession appear to be much less likely to be of a consultancy orientation. Also striking is the apparent lack of emphasis on culture and behavioural issues. Within the UK HR profession, the lack of clarity in contemporary definition of OD may underpin the disparate use of terminology.
The data collected in the preliminary research are from a small‐scale investigatory study; therefore this limits the opportunity to draw robust generalised conclusions.
Despite the increasing use of “OD” in the UK HR profession, there is no widely recognised description of what it encompasses within that community, while much of the “theorising” on OD to date has been descriptive/prescriptive. In this paper, a contrast between the academic rhetoric on OD and the reality of the practice within the HR profession has been presented, through comparing the literature with the findings from the preliminary research.
Clare Gillon, A. (2011), "Does OD practice within the HR profession in the UK reflect the academic rhetoric?", Leadership & Organization Development Journal, Vol. 32 No. 2, pp. 150-169. https://doi.org/10.1108/01437731111112980Download as .RIS
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