I. 2. Organizational development
This development emerged as a response to the need for
an adequate answer to the organizations increasing complexity. It was
announced by other social theories on organizations, such as human relationships
theory (G. E. Mayo, F. Roethlisberger) and human resources theory (R.
Lickert, Mc. Gregor).
These new theories added to the organizational analysis
aspects like group dynamics, informal dimension of relationships, working
environment and working conditions, degree of satisfaction/ dissatisfaction,
extra-pecuniary motivation, need for self-esteem and expression, personal
skills, participative management, organizational culture. To put it
in one word, we move from an organizational chart to a social chart.
Organizational development tries to provide answers to
all problems occurring in organizations. This orientation has various
eclectic definitions that have several common elements, represented
by what we call basic assumptions:
- Changes in organization and in human resources in order
to improve the life quality of its members, as well as its performances.
- More flexible and adaptable organizations that contribute
to conflict solving.
- Assisted changes, achieved with the help of specialists
called “agents of change”.
- Directed, designed and anticipated changes with the
help of change and development programs. Thus, the change becomes
a process conducted by teams specialized in project management.
The common element in these definition attempts is represented
by the change and the way of approaching and managing it. The definitions
also pointed out the interest for the organization as a whole.
The central concept of this theory is the change, identified
as organization development. Still, a certain risk is involved, that
of ignoring other aspects and transforming change in a goal in itself
or of promoting pseudo-changes.
Nobody questions the need for change in order to adjust
organizations to new challenges and increase their performances. This
need becomes fundamental in learning institutions for adults where performance
is mirrored not only in the degree of adjusting to new challenges, but
also in the ability of anticipating and producing changes. The factors
generating the need for change are both external, and internal (see
annex 1 “Frameworks for change”). Havelock stressed the
fact that the real change comes from the inside and moves towards the
outside, statement confirmed by the analysis conducted by Crozier on
organization members regarded as “agents of change”.
This organizational development theory, when implemented
in learning institutions, must take into account their specificity,
given that it is based on economic organizations analysis.
Any organization operates in two different symbolic regimes:
- the instrumental logic (expressing
the institutional dimension) and
- the existential logic (representing
the expressive and personal dimension).
The first one can be found mainly in economic organizations,
while the existential logic is specific to learning institutions. But
more important is the balance that exists here. We include the following
visual representation of this balance, specific to managerial activities
in an adult education institution (Cohen, Manion, p. 354).
Fig. 2. The role played by the manager
of the educational institution
Another visual representation of the same issue from the
normative/expressive perspective is presented in fig. 3 (Nuissl, p.
Fig. 3. Differentiation and integrationof
individual and organization
Organizational change can be preventive, predictive and
anticipatory (before the problem occurs) or corrective (after the problem
occurs). Both types of change are important and difficult to achieve,
but preventive change is more important from the organizational development
Preventive change is predictive and anticipatory and keeps
the organization safe from troubles and crisis. Corrective change is
generated by dysfunctions occurring in organizations. Such dysfunctions
have benefic effects as well, by placing us in a space of uncertainty
and contingency. Here, the individual’s behavior is no longer
subject to strict regulations, thus facilitating the development of
an informal and structured organizational environment. These aspects
are specific to learning institutions for adults, where this space is
created and maintained, representing a mark of organizational identity.
This perspective is important, from the adult education
point of view, because it defines individuals as actors in the organization.
It also associates the idea that organization progress is generated
not only by structural and technical changes, but also by individuals,
by their degree of participation, their emotional involvement, their
skills and ability to assimilate the values of change. Therefore, the
change relies greatly on individuals, on the organization’s human
resources, on their ability to “learn” about the change,
to perfect. Thus, organizational development assimilated and integrated
a new component: staff development.
We can call this new perspective concerning the organization
members, considered as actors, “the return of the actor”.
The return implies, first of all, his active involvement in the organization,
but it can also mean an actor’s creative effort to avoid obstacles
that hinder changes. This should represent the individual awareness
of the fact that his destiny is the same as the organization’s
destiny, and that both are in his control. To quote G. B. Shaw: “A
reasonable individual adjusts himself to the world, an unreasonable
individual adjusts the world to himself, this is why the entire process
depends on the unreasonable individual”.
Generally, organizations must adopt a participative managerial
style that, together with a constant and direct involvement of their
members in the decision-making process, implies an investment of mutual
trust between managers and other members. The trust and mistrust spirals
are represented in fig. 4.
Fig. 4. The trust and mistrust
But the great challenge for complex organization management
was represented by the ability to manage the contingents and the uncertainties.
In this context we are talking about a management that resorts to strategies
such as the systemic strategy or, more exactly, the global systemic
and paradoxical strategy able to master all contradictory and paradoxical
phenomena that might appear within the organizations.
Strategic programming or strategic management (Mintzberg)
is related managerial strategies that have the same objectives and also
the capacity to react swiftly to various requirements.
The manager has to be strategy specialist rather than a
technician and, among others, he needs intuition. The most important
issue with regard to the new managerial vision is to involve the members
of the organization in the managerial activity and to eliminate in as
much as possible the barriers between the management and the executive
functions. In fact, this is the very essence of participatory management.
It also becomes a circumstantial, adaptable and flexible management
with regard to concrete situations, by eliminating pre-established solutions
and by resorting to solutions based on reality and accurate data. The
efficiency of this type of management generally results in identifying
the opposition and obstacles that confront the process of change. These
obstacles might be external or internal, subjective and objective.
We are dealing here with two types of change:
- adoptive change, that occurs from
top to bottom in a directed and centralized manner that often ignores
the internal part of the organization;
- adaptive change, based on the intrinsic
organizational abilities to change and to adapt to new requirements.
It is generally based on organizational culture.
Adaptive change proves to be more efficient as it involves
a good analysis and understanding of the social and cultural environment.
Organizational culture is the key to a successful change. Thus, the
stress moves from a change imposed on us or just occurring to us, to
control over the respective change and its variables, especially intrinsic
organization variables and abilities. Subsequently, learning organizations
undergo a “cultural mobilization”.
Development projects involve changes at two major inter-connected
levels – the structural level and the one referring to the behavior
of the personnel. No important structural change can be successful if
it is not embraced by the personnel. This is why most project promoting
change and development include a section focused on staff development
that indicates the types of changes and trainings necessary in the respective
First of all, people need to assimilate the new values
and to put into practice behaviors associated with them. This implies
an enormous social and organizational learning effort. All organizational
development projects must be based on learning strategies, being ultimately
a learning project that involves profound changes in attitudes and mentalities,
assimilation of new “collective abilities” (M. Crozier).
In this context, it becomes more and more obvious that
success belongs to organizations with a “learning” ability.
Today, “learning organization” is a fundamental concept
within the organizational development. Although sometimes “learning
organization” is considered to be rather a metaphor, the more
recent trends confer more and more substance to this concept designating
realities that cannot be ignored: the development and the viability
of an organization depend on its learning abilities. Of course, the
central idea of strategies based on “learning organization”
is not a new concept, in fact is well known and widely analyzed in studies
referring to socializing and social learning. Nevertheless, within the
organizational context, social learning becomes organizational learning,
subordinated to its needs, objectives and interests and socialization
becomes a process through which the organizational individual is being
When talking about “learning organization”,
our reference system is not the individual learning within the organization
but the organization as a whole. In this case, “learning organization”
designates the processes that lead to a well-structured organizational
change, by redefining, resizing and restructuring the collective behavior
and values. “Learning organization” involves changes that
occur not at an individual level but at group level. This kind of learning
is a continuous process, whose dynamic is fluctuant.
The analysis carried out with regard to the “learning
organization” emphasized two meanings for this concept. The first
one designates the organization that does the learning. The second one
designates the organizations that promote and provide the teaching.
More often than not, these are called educational organizations –
schools, universities etc. (M. Leicester). When we deal with adult education
institutions both meanings should be taken into account.
The first meaning refers to their capacity to change through
“organizational learning” processes (P. Dalin, V. Rust).
In this case, “learning organization” must be associated
with “staff development”, according to C. Duke (1992). It
involves the promotion of change that occurs in the way the educational
institutions are perceived and this can be achieved only through a process
of development and training of human resources. We are talking here
about a “staff development” focused on organizational change,
where staff training serves and is subordinated to this objective.
The second meaning, regarding the organizations that promote
and deliver teaching is based on the fact that the basic activity of
the adult education institutions is learning, but here, instead of organizational
learning, we have individual learning, education and instruction.