Accueil » 25-2 ( 1970) » Développement organisationnel : évaluation d’un programme en cours

Développement organisationnel : évaluation d’un programme en cours

Laurent Bélanger


L'intervention sur les organisations est une activité qui utilise largement des concepts et des modes de raisonnement propres aux sciences du comportement. Elle constitue une forme de consultation qui diffère sensiblement de celle qui se réfère aux «  classiques » en administration et aux méthodes de la recherche opérationnelle. Chaque intervention s'insère dans une séquence pour constituer un programme intégré de développement organisationnel. L'auteur de cet article présente le modèle de développement utilisé par le Centre de formation et de consultation (CDE) et donne un compte-rendu des résultats obtenus à ce four dans une entreprise québécoise 1.

1 Nous tenons à remercier Messieurs Raymond Tremblay et Guy Darveau du Centre de formation et de consultation pour avoir revisé la partie théorique de ce texte et la direction de l'entreprise Groupe Commerce pour avoir répondu aux questions posées.


Organization Development : Evaluating an On-going Program

Organization development can be looked upon as a strategy for introducing and maintaining change. Organization development is a particular kind of consulting work drawing heavily on the behavioral sciences, while traditional consultation makes use of work simplification and structural design principles and techniques.

The Centre de formation et de consultation (CFC), a service of a management association in Québec, is conducting a series of organization development activities in some Québec business and administrative units in the public sector.

The CFC in its consulting work follows a particular approach based on the same assumptions laid down by Edgar H. Schein, well-known in the field of organizational psychology. Professor Schein's approach emphasizes processes such as leadership, authority relationships, communications, intergroup competition, etc. This approach is called « process consultation » and is defined as a « set of activities on the part of the consultant which help the client to perceive, understand and act upon process events which occur in the client's environment » (Edger H. Schein,Process Consultation:its rôle in organization development, p. 9).

Keeping these premises in mind, the CFC consultants has developed a model of organization development, which permits identification of the phases, the techniques used, the results which can be anticipated from each phase, and the techniques for evaluating them.

The program, which is conducted according to this model, includes the following phases :

1.— To establish a stable relationship between the consultants and the client-system ;

2.— To identify the need for change and develop a motivation to make changes (the unfreezing phase) ;

3.— To diagnose the existing situation ;

4.— To build a program for change in the short and long run ;

5.— To carry out the changes ;

6.— To stabilize the changes (the freezing phase) ;

7.— To maintain readiness for subsequent changes.

The model has been used at the Group Commerce, a family business in the field of general insurance, employing from five to six hundred people.

This paper is brief summary of what has been accomplished and the result obtained so far at the Group Commerce.

Initial contacts were established in 1967, followed by two sessions attended by top and middle management. These sessions dealt with sensitivity to groups functionning and decision-making, with styles of administration and their appropriateness to various administrative situations.

In April 1969, the top-management and the consultants decided to proceed to a diagnosis of the situation existing at that time in order to identify the strengths and weaknesses of the organization. For this propose, two questionnaires were worked out and administered : one for middle and lower management, and one for the employees. The data so collected were computed and analysed in the light of Herzberg's two-factor theory dealing with motivation and hygienic factors. The data collection and interpretation were completed by the end of August 1969.

Meetings were held with management in October 1969. The purpose of these meetings was to communicate and explain the findings of the attitude survey and establish a consensus among top and middle managers on the validity of the findings.

In late Fall 1969 and early 1970, the Company engaged in the long-run programming phase while carrying out changes identified as short-run priorities.

Even though the development programs has not been completed, it is now possible to report on some changes that occurred in line with anticipated results for each phase.

An increase in interpersonal competence and a greater skill in diagnosing administrative situations were expected from the « arousal » phase. A questionnaire was sent to the top and middle managers who attended the sessions.

Most of the participants believe they made progress in acquiring or improving their skill in understanding others and developing authenticity in their relationship with them. They think they have a better knowledge of team functionning and the inner workings of an organization.

However, when we asked the participants whether their neighbours or colleagues had observed these personal changes, they replied positively but in a smaller proportion. Generally speaking, the participants tended to perceive themselves as having made more progress than their colleagues or other participants in the same organization, ie., Group Commerce. The majority of them also believe they have increased their ability to identify the needs for changes and implement them.

Once the findings of the diagnosis were known to top management, a willingness to accept the data developed and a consensus followed on pointing out some aspects of the situation requiring immediate changes. Arriving at a consensus on identifying choices to be made was a condition for maintaining the development program.

Results of this program can also be measured in terms of changes carried out so far and, changes that are presently being programmed over the long-run, and induced changes, that is, modifications that could not be attributed to a particular phase. In order to collect information on the actions taken by management, a series of interviews was conducted with ten top managers.

Without going into detail, it is possible, at least, to classify and list these changes in the following way :

1.— Changes completed so far :

     — structural changes : the removal of one authority layer and the fusion of some tasks ;

     — reallocation of personnel ;

     — remodelling of the planning committee and the top and middle management committee ;

     — a greater decentralization of personnel management.

2.— Changes sought over the long-run :

     — a revision of management philosophy towards a greater participation of middle and lower management in policy-making and decision-making ;

     — a redefinition of the goals of the organization.

3.— Changes that are induced or that evolved with the unfolding of the organization development program :

     — changes in the styles of management from a paternalistic consideration for people to having them accept greater responsibilities at all levels.

     — changes in the level of interpersonal competence.

These were the most important changes that could be traced back through the interviews with top management. Questions were also asked to the impediments to effective organization improvement, and also conditions which increase the success of a program of this kind. The following conditions could be identified in the course of the interviews :

1.— Top management support ;

2.— The kind of interventions made by the consultants ;

3.— The extent to which the participants at the arousal phase could assimilate the material presented ;

4.— External conditions, such as the tumultuous changes that characterized the last decade in the Province of Québec.

From this case study, we could learn much about introducing readiness for change within an organization and the way change can be maintained, but we still have to learn more by proceeding further, by reporting numerous and diversified case studies so that comparisons can be made, measurement techniques improved, and conditions for success ascertained.