Organization Development: Behavioral Science Interventions for Organization Improvement (6th ed.)

David Coghlan (University of Dublin, Ireland)

Leadership & Organization Development Journal

ISSN: 0143-7739

Article publication date: 1 February 2000




Coghlan, D. (2000), "Organization Development: Behavioral Science Interventions for Organization Improvement (6th ed.)", Leadership & Organization Development Journal, Vol. 21 No. 1, pp. 62-64.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

French and Bell’s Organization Development has been a standard OD text for several decades. It has been through five editions – 1973, 1978, 1984, 1990 and 1994 – and has been translated into several languages. This is now the sixth edition.

The basic structure of this edition is similar to previous editions. Part I introduces OD, describing its foundations, history and values system. Part II focuses on core OD’s theory and covers such topics as change theory, the OD process and action research. Part III deals with OD interventions – individual, team, inter‐group, comprehensive, training. Part IV explores issues in the consultant‐client relationship, system ramifications, power and politics, OD research and the future of OD.

There is quite an extensive literature review accompanying each theme and chapter, though it must be acknowledged that it is nigh impossible to keep up to date on all that is published on any particular topic. This edition has updated organisation development’s links with issues such as organisational learning, total quality management, business process re‐engineering, current thinking on teams and the developing future search processes.

If I were to be critical about some of its omissions, I would point to the absence of any discussion on the role OD might play in IT‐related change. The current literature on IT under performance and failure indicate a need for OD to help organisations in this critical area. I also think that the chapters dealing with action research could reflect more the divergent forms of action research and the growing place that action research is having on the organisational research literature.

French and Bell has been a significant OD text for several decades. This revision updates previous editions. In my experience, French and Bell is a text for postgraduates and those who are interested in the extensive references and the literature supporting the themes in the book, rather than some of its competitors, which tend to focus more on being college textbooks. It continues to stand as the most comprehensive OD text.

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