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Handbook of Od

In: Business and Management

Submitted By NickFury
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Four General Strategies for Changing Human Systems


n this chapter we articulate a new general strategy for effecting change in human systems. To do this, we return to the fundamental assumptions of organization development (OD). In examining the early arguments in the field, we identify an essential strategy that has never been made explicit. By developing this strategy, we open avenues for research and provide an action framework that will increase the effectiveness of change agents. FOUNDATIONS OF OD We begin with a review of the seminal paper published in 1969 by Chin and Benne, “General Strategies for Effecting Changes in Human Systems.” In the paper, Chin and Benne outline three general strategies for changing human systems: empirical–rational, power–coercive, and normative–reeducative.

The empirical–rational strategy considers people to be rationally self-interested. An organization member adopts a proposed change if the following two conditions are met: The proposed change is rationally justified, and the change agent demonstrates the benefits of the change to the change target. In short, the rational–empirical approach emphasizes that if the target has a justifiable reason to change (i.e., if it is in his or her self-interest), change comes from simply telling the target about the change. Chin and Benne call their second strategy power–coercive. This approach focuses on change efforts in which a more powerful person imposes his or her will on a less powerful person. The change agent ostensibly exercises coercion that ranges from subtle manipulation to the direct use of physical force. The main advantage of this approach is that it delivers effective results rapidly. However, these benefits 69


THE NATURE OF ORGANIZATION DEVELOPMENT seek to change others, our first tactic involves explaining why the...

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