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Exploring the connection between organizations and organisms in dealing with change

Vishal Arghode (Department of Organisational Behaviour and Human Resources Management, Indian Institute of Management Nagpur, Nagpur, India)
Narveen Jandu (School of Public Health and Health Systems, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Canada)
Gary N. McLean (Graduate School of Management, Assumption University, Bangkok, Thailand)

European Journal of Training and Development

ISSN: 2046-9012

Article publication date: 8 September 2020

Issue publication date: 13 July 2021




This paper aims to review organizational studies literature and related fields to explore the parallel between organizations and organisms in dealing with change.


The authors reviewed the literature to explore organizational change theories. Additionally, they referred to biological studies to explore the connection between organizations and organisms.


To cope successfully with change, organizations need to be aware of the critical, vulnerable points that may endanger their survival. These vulnerabilities can arise from external or internal factors or both. Organizational leaders, being aware of these criticalities, can act swiftly to deal with threats while keeping an eye on available opportunities.

Research limitations/implications

Future research could be conducted on understanding the elements of biological transformations through an in-depth study focused on species that have undergone frequent mutations and adaptations. It is hoped that HRD researchers, especially organization development (OD) theorists and practitioners, can build upon the ideas presented in this article.

Practical implications

The review and analysis can open doors for HRD practitioners to seek a better understanding of biological transformations, while enabling them to borrow ideas to be used in leading organizational change and design successful organizational change.


In this paper, the authors selected organizational theories to outline parallels between organizations and organisms to emphasize what organizations can learn from the success of organisms changing over billions of years. Thus, this paper uniquely contributes to HRD literature by encouraging OD researchers to conduct more interdisciplinary research. Most importantly, this paper contributes to understanding the underlying theories in HRD/OD.



Arghode, V., Jandu, N. and McLean, G.N. (2021), "Exploring the connection between organizations and organisms in dealing with change", European Journal of Training and Development, Vol. 45 No. 4/5, pp. 366-380.



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