PS430 Organizational Behavior Management Discussion Post

Kaplan University

Psychology / Applied Behavior Analysis / Organizational Behavior Management

PS430: Program Design and Evaluation

Unit 8 Discussion Post


Topic 1 of 1: Collaborating with other disciplines

Your textbook points to many similarities and many differences between OBM (Organizational Behavior Management) and OD (Organizational Development). The text also highlights potential areas for collaboration. Throughout your future careers in Applied Behavior Analysis, you will often have to collaborate with others from other disciplines. This will require an understanding of other fields as well as the skills to determine where you can collaborate and create the most effective treatment environment for clients.

For this week’s Discussion you will compare and contrast OBM and OD as well as extend some of the points from this week’s Reading to your future practice:

1.          Identify and explain two key ways in which Organizational Behavior Management and Organizational Development are different.

2.          Describe one of the areas you feel OBM can contribute the most to in the field of OD and why.

3.          Discuss what is meant by “humble behaviorism,” as referenced in your textbook from Neuringer (1991).

4.          Discuss how the ideas of reciprocation and “humble behaviorism,” will impact collaboration with other disciplines in your future career in behavior analysis.

Reference (attached document) to be used for this assignment is Chapter 14 from the following book:

Johnson, C. M., Mawhinney, T. C., & Redmon, W. K. (2001). Handbook of organizational performance: Behavior analysis and management. New York, NY: Sage The Hawthorn Press, Inc.



In-text citation: (Johnson, Mawhinney & Redmon, 2001)

ohnson, C. M., Mawhinney, T. C., & Redmon, W. K. (2001). Handbook of organizational performance: Behavior analysis and management. New York, NY: Sage The Hawthorn Press, Inc.

In-text citation: (Johnson, Mawhinney & Redmon, 2001)

Chapter 14

Organizational Behavior Management and Organization Development: Potential Paths to Reciprocation

The origins of applied behavioral science can be traced back more than fifty years. While Skinner was pioneering efforts in the experimental analysis of behavior, and the grand theorists, Tolman, Hull, and Guthrie were battling for supremacy in the behavioral science arena, Kurt Lewin and Rensis Likert, prominent social psychologists of the era, began emphasizing the importance of connecting research and theory with practice. Their work strongly influenced the field of organizational behavior (OB), and spawned the field we will consider in detail in the present chapter: organization development (OD).

Neither OB nor OD share many of the features commonly identified with organizational behavior management (OBM): direct and frequent recording of behavior, targeting outcomes that workers can influence, and focusing on performance consequences. Indeed, current OD texts (e.g., Burke, 1982; French and Bell, 1990; Cummings and Worley, 1993) pay very little attention, if any, to Skinner’s work and neglect to acknowledge OBM altogether. The OB field, on the other hand, has had fruitful interaction with behavior analysis (Komaki, 1986a). Virtually all OB texts (e.g., Luthans, 1992) include OBM as part of the OB field, although it is more often referred to as organizational behavior modification, or O.B. Mod.

The purpose of this chapter is to explore the potential for reciprocation between OD and OBM. The field of OD has matured considerably during the past two decades, with calls for systematic evaluation and research designed to determine what works and to begin assembling a theoretical basis for the field (Dunn and Swierczek, 1977; Eubanks and Marshall, 1990; Eubanks, Marshall, and O’Driscoll, 1990; Eubanks et al., 1990; Golembiewski, Proehl, and Sink, 1982; Nicholas, 1982; O’Driscoll and Eubanks, 1992, 1993, 1994). Clients have also become more sophisticated and are requiring OD practitioners to show performance gains in exchange for the considerable effort and cost involved in systemwide interventions (Beer and Walton, 1987, 1990). The OD field is briefly described in the following section as a basis for contrasting it with OBM.


Numerous definitions of OD exist. According to one of the more comprehensive descriptions of the field, OD is:

a top-management-supported, long-range effort to improve an organization’s problem solving and renewal processes, particularly through a more effective and collaborative diagnosis and management of organization culture—with special emphasis on formal work team, temporary team, and inter-group culture—with the assistance of a consultant-facilitator and the use of the theory and technology of applied behavioral science, including action research. (French and Bell, 1990, p. 17)

This definition encompasses a number of dimensions that require elaboration. Table 14.1 lists these dimensions and provides a basis for comparing and contrasting OD and OBM. These dimensions will be used later as a basis for evaluating possible areas of interaction and reciprocation among the two fields.


Within the OD approach to organizational change, support is required by the organization’s chief executive, and the client is typically one or more members of the top management group. Recent writings have emphasized the importance of active involvement and ongoing approval by this power structure in order for change to occur in an organization (Burke, 1982; French and Bell, 1990). In contrast, OBM efforts typically occur in response to somewhat more focused problems identified by line managers (Balcazar et al, 1989, p. 20).

Time Frame

Although there are certainly exceptions in each case, successful OD efforts typically are either ongoing or are framed in terms of one or more years (French and Bell, 1990; Huse and Cummings, 1989), while OBM interventions are frequently completed in less than a year (Balcazar et al., 1989).

TABLE 14.1. Comparison of OD and OBM As Technologies of Organizational Change

Dimension OD OBM
Client Top management Line managers
Time Frame Long-range/ongoing Limited/months
Change Goals Problem-solving/ “renewal processes” Frequency of targeted behavior(s)
Technology Base Applied behavioral science Behavior analysis
Unit of Analysis Groups/teams and intergroup culture Individual worker behavior
Intervention Strategy Collaborative diagnosis, action research, culture management Performance audit, single-subject design, contingency management
Change Agent Consultant-facilitator Behavioral consultant

Change Goals

OD interventions emphasize how an organization makes decisions, whether it typically involves a select few individuals or uses the resources of all its members. Closely related to organizational decision making is the notion of “renewal processes” (Argyris, 1970). It is not enough to enhance the effectiveness of an organization’s decisions. Within the OD perspec tive, ongoing realignment is required between the organization’s purpose and its direction in response to a constantly changing external environ ment. This process perspective is a hallmark of OD efforts, and intervention strategies such as process consultation (Schein, 1988) emphasize it. Environmental change is also a focus of OBM. Such change, however, is systematically arranged within the organization in order to change the frequency of carefully targeted and pinpointed behaviors (cf. Brown, 1982; Daniels, 1989).

Technology Base

The history of OD is aligned with the development of applied behavioral science, with contributions from fields such as social psychology, cultural anthropology, psychiatry, management/administrative sciences, economics, sociology, and political science. An underlying theme running through the interdisciplinary OD field is that of humanism and existential-ism (French and Bell, 1990), ranging from the early writers on the Hawthorne studies (Roethlisberger and Dickson, 1939) to more widespread “person-centered” approaches (e.g., Schein and Bennis, 1965). OBM draws its change technology from applied behavior analysis, with more recent pleas to incorporate basic research data and theory from the experimental analysis of behavior.

Unit of Analysis

The primary focus in OD efforts is the work group, or team, including both superiors and subordinates. Dependent variables within an OD effort tend to emphasize team or work group measures reflecting intergroup relations, decision making, trust, and communication. However, individual behavioral measures are sometimes included, along with organization-wide measures and variables related to leader behavior (Porras and Berg, 1978, pp. 252-253). For the most part, OD addresses rather stable work teams, but attention is also directed at temporary work teams, such as committees, boards of directors, task forces, and “cross-functional teams.” In contrast, OBM efforts have traditionally focused on targeting behavior and accomplishments (e.g., Gilbert, 1978) of individual workers for change.

Intervention Strategy

The main focus of the OD process is data collection concerning the current functioning of the organization to detect gaps between the status quo and desired mission or goal statements. This activity is commonly referred to as organizational diagnosis (Weisbord, 1987). The data are usually based on interviews, observations, questionnaires, and archival information, with a heavy reliance on verbal self-report by clients and organizational members.

The results of the organizational diagnosis are important, but, consistent with OD’s process approach, how the information is collected and what is done with that information are also of prime concern. This process is usually imbedded within what has come to be known as action research (French and Bell, 1990). Action research essentially involves a cyclical process in which a problem is collaboratively defined by the persons affected (client group) in concert with an OD consultant, followed by data collection, action (interventions undertaken to establish new behavior), data collection, and feedback to the client group. This cycle is repeated until the problem has been solved or a previously established criterion is met.

Collaborative diagnosis and action research are usually applied within an OD intervention in the context of what is known as culture management (cf. Deal and Kennedy, 1982; Schein, 1990). Organizational culture is a relatively new concept that is being embraced by the management and OD communities. Recently, it was introduced in the OBM literature as well (Eubanks and Lloyd, 1992; Lamal, 1991; Mawhinney, 1992; Chapter 17 , this volume). From the vantage point of management and OD, this approach involves a shared examination of how work is done in an organization (by managers, subordinates, and consultants) and assessing the values, technology, and behavior of its members in terms of how functional these elements are in meeting both short- and long-range goals of the organization and its members. The OBM approach presents a common process, selection by consequences, which underlies all behavior in Organizations. For example, Glenn (1986, 1988, 1991a) advanced the concept of metacontingencies that control large segments of societal practice, though she did not specify organizations as specific subunits for analysis. Such analyses have been recently applied from an OBM vantage point to both private and public sector organizations (Redmon and Wilk, 1991; Redmon and Agnew, 1991).

A hallmark of OD has been its values-based approach to organizational change. Encompassed within this approach is a concern for increasing individual as well as organizational effectiveness. Related to this concern for individual development is the basic assumption that people want to, and are capable of, making sustained, high-level contributions to the goals and mission of the organization (see Gellerman, 1984, 1985, for a treatment of OD values and ethics).

Change Agent

An external facilitator-consultant has been a consistently distinguishing element of OD efforts, and continues to be preferred over do-it-yourself programs (cf. French and Bell, 1990, p. 20). Although internal OD consultants (staff persons usually residing in the human resources department) may be employed, particularly in collaboration with an external consultant, external persons are believed to be more effective because they are relatively free of the cultural organization more independent of local politics than the internal person, and less dependent on the long-range reinforcement afforded by salary and career advancement within the firm. No data exist, however, directly comparing the effectiveness of internal and external consultants. In fact, Beer and Walton (1990) note the transition of OD from a set of skills held by an external consultant to requisite skills held by all effective managers in an organization. This trend, if it continues, would make the distinction between external and internal consultants obsolete, since OD would become acculturated into the daily management practices of the firm. It is not clear, however, that the consequences of OD practices are sufficiently effective to be selected into the mainstream culture of most organizations.


Anecdotal reports of successful OD interventions abound in the literature (cf., Beer and Walton, 1987,1990). However, several recent literature reviews have reported mixed results (cf. Golembiewski, Proehl, and Sink, 1982; Hantula et al., 1991; Mirvis and Berg, 1977). To date the data suggest that positive effects are obtained in 50 to 87 percent of the studies reviewed. A meta-analysis by Guzzo, Jette, and Katzell (1985) evaluated 207 field studies and found that the OD programs reviewed increased worker productivity, on the average, about one-half a standard deviation. With respect to worker satisfaction and job-related attitudes, a similar meta-analysis procedure was conducted (Neuman, Edwards, and Raju, 1989) and the authors concluded that comprehensive, multifaceted OD interventions were more effective in enhancing attitudinal measures than were those that focused on a more specific technique, such as team building or laboratory training. The majority of the studies included in these reviews, however, relied primarily on verbal self-report measures of productivity (see Nicholas, 1982, for an exception to this). It is not clear to what extent the positive effects of OD interventions would hold using actual production data (e.g., number of defects, scrap rate, etc.).

The rigor of available research on OD effectiveness is cause for caution. One review article drew the following conclusion: “Stated kindly, the quality of research in OD is not always spectacular; indeed, some of it is shoddy” (Woodman, 1989, p. 223). Several analyses of OD research have found an inverse relationship between the degree of methodological rigor and the reported outcome success of OD (Terpstra, 1981; Woodman and Wayne, 1985; Hantula et al., 1991).

In short, data concerning efficacy of OD as a systemwide approach to organizational change are equivocal. Anecdotal observations indicate that OD rarely diffuses throughout the entire organization and that it is too limited (Strauss, 1973; Walton, 1975). It has also been suggested that all current human resource management and behaviorally oriented techniques, not just OD, have come up short in terms of providing the “strategic integration” required for a positive impact on organizational performance (Guest, 1990, p. 388).


As discussed above, and as Hantula et al. (1991) have noted, OD and OBM exhibit similarities and differences in their approach to organizational change. Critical elements of OD and recent work accomplished within the OBM field that might provide the basis of active reciprocation between the two fields is now considered. The comparison begins with the ways in which OBM might enhance the goals of OD.

What OBM Can Offer OD

Balanced Process and Outcome Emphasis

A consistent theme of OD has been a process-based approach to organizational change. This is evident in process consultation (Schein, 1988) and in definitions of OD(e.g., Burke, 1982; French and Bell, 1990), as well as in recent calls for OD to be more relevant to leaner, flatter, strategically oriented organizations proposed to meet the demands of the present and future global marketplace (Beer and Walton, 1990). Few empirical data are available, however, to support one single organizational structure as most effective for all combinations of environment, task, technology, and people. In short, although new OD interventions are said to be required, the focus of this approach is still within the humanistically based context of how people work, not the outcomes of their work per se. Although OD is primarily process-oriented in approach, numerous attempts have been made, as discussed previously, at linking OD to overall outcome measures, such as productivity.

OBM, on the other hand, focuses on outcomes that workers can influence as primary strategy for intervening in organizations (Komaki, 1986a). Only after a thorough analysis of prevailing contingencies operating with-in the organization, or at least the organizational subunit of interest, does the performance manager begin prescribing intervention strategies to accomplish changes in the target performance. This approach to change that emphasizes outcomes directly under the control of worker behavior is proposed as a first contribution that OBM can offer OD. The technology of targeting and pinpointing behavior (Daniels, 1989), coupled with an analysis of the relationship between individual accomplishments and Organizational mission (Gilbert, 1978), can help balance a sometimes excessive emphasis of OD on organizational processes and place them in a more goal-oriented context.

Functional Analysis of OD Consultant Behavior

As previously noted, the existence of an external facilitator/consultant is often listed as a critical element of systematic OD efforts. On the other hand, Beer and Walton (1987) present cogent arguments that OD research has been preoccupied with consultant-centered intervention methods and that there is a need for expansion in the scope of OD consultation as a set of skills possessed by managers, rather than these skills being the sole domain of the external consultant. Given the pervasiveness of change programs that entail extensive consultant involvement, from both internal and external vantage points, there is a need for more systematic investigation of consultant behaviors. Consequently, a second area wherein OBM may significantly impact OD is in determining the critical skills that Differentiate effective from ineffective organizational interventions.

Previous work was undertaken by the author and his associates (Eu-banks, Marshall, and O’Driscoll, 1990; Eubanks, O’Driscoll, Hayward, Daniels, and Connor, 1990; O’Driscoll and Eubanks, 1992,1993,1994) in an attempt to determine specific consultant behaviors that are likely to lead to desired organizational outcomes. The results of our work yielded six competency categories that represent the range of OD performance in which practitioners engage: contracting, using data, implementation, inter-personal skills, group process, and client relations. Details regarding the process for extracting these categories may be found in Eubanks and colleagues (1990, pp. 83-84). The specific labels for each of the competency categories are based on the judgments of a panel of OD experts. Regardless of whether identification of these categories represents cutting-edge OD related to strategic management, for example, we are concerned with the specific behavioral skills within each category.

To date, we have used our behavioral observation scale, called the Consultant Competency Inventory (CCI), to collect data from forty-five organizations in the United States and New Zealand that had recently completed OD interventions. As a result of various analyses of our data, we have discovered a limited set of critical practitioner behaviors that seem to reliably predict successful OD intervention outcomes. These behav iors are listed in Table 14.2 according to the original category scheme we developed. Our ultimate objective is to refine this critical consultant behavior set in the manner that Komaki and her colleagues refined their supervisory behavior inventory (Komaki, 1986b; Komaki, Zlotnick, and Jensen, 1986). Similar to the previously mentioned potential of OBM for providing OD with a framework for functional analyses of organizational behavior, clear specification of OD consulting competencies, as they functionally relate to intervention outcomes, should provide a platform for training future practitioners as well as a set of criteria for evaluating existing consultation practices by clients and practitioners alike.

TABLE 14.2. Critical Consultant Behaviors by Competency Category


• States clearly what can and cannot be done for the organization

• Demonstrates verbal and social behavior consistent with the organization’s culture

• Provides options from which the client can choose

Using Data

• Interprets data quickly and effectively

• Shows clients how their behavior affects the organization

• Breaks problems down into smaller parts and deals with each in turn


• Brings organization members together to discuss the intervention

• Gives management responsibility by working with their ideas

• Models desired behavior for clients

• Brings top-level management together to collaborate

• Checks regularly with clients to ensure their needs are being met

• Modifies the intervention to meet changing client requirements


• Listens carefully by accurately paraphrasing client statements

• Uses questions effectively with clients

Group Process

• Keeps groups focused on positive aspects of the intervention

• Summarizes the ideas and feelings of individuals who are impeding group work

Client Relations

• Confronts the organization to bring out crucial issues

• Represents accurately his or her skills and training

• Follows up after the intervention by maintaining close contact

Rigorous Measurement and Evaluation

Numerous strategies for analyzing or diagnosing an organization’s functioning exist within the OD literature (e.g., Weisbord, 1987). While these strategies are helpful in suggesting a range of potential dependent variables, the outcomes of these procedures often yield lists of problems generated by interviews, surveys, or questionnaires that tap organizational members’ verbal responses to a standard set of questions. Sometimes results based on these verbal behaviors are coordinated with other data, such as attendance data, employee turnover, or productivity measures, but often they are not.

Although verbal-based measures will continue to be used, managers require results expressed in terms of a common metric, such as dollars (Carnevale and Schulz, 1990; Cascio, 1991; Cascio and Ramos, 1986; Davidove and Schroeder, 1992; Schneider, Monetta, and Wright, 1992). By combining measures such as dollars returned on training investment (Schneider et al., 1992), marginal utility of training investment (Cascio, 1991), or other similar measures from the human resource accounting literature (e.g., FitzEnz, 1980,1984; Flamholtz, 1985; Steffy and Maurer, 1988) with basic discriminations of what can and cannot be influenced directly by worker behavior, the OD practitioner will produce a powerful new repertoire of analytic tools. Quantitative tools and techniques such as ROI (return on investment) analyses should help to shift the preoccupation of OD with work processes per se to a greater balance of process and outcome-based interventions (see Church and Burke, 1993, for a discussion of changing directions in OD).

It would appear that OBM has unprecedented potential for providing crucial data for evaluating the dollar impact of organizational interventions (Eubanks and Hayward, 1992). As a data-based approach to organizational change, evaluation is built in from the beginning of the intervention (Komaki, 1986a). Deciding what performances to target, however, and providing data that managers understand remains a problem. That is, the OBM convention of focusing on narrow definitions of small units of performance often stands in stark contrast to the prevailing verbal community of managers emphasizing “dynamic cultural change,” which is believed to be requisite to making organizations more responsive to rapidly changing environments (cf. Eubanks and Lloyd, 1992). As mentioned previously, however, Gilbert (1978; see also Rummler and Brache, 1995) has made significant inroads in this area with his concept of vantage points, which include policy and culture, as well as his notion of potential for improved performance (PIP), which can be readily converted to dollar estimates of return on investment (cf. Schneider, Monetta, and Wright, 1992). Behavioral approaches to the study of culture represent a fourth and final area we will consider wherein OBM may significantly enhance OD’s approach to increasing organizational effectiveness.

Organizational Culture Perspectives

Interest in culture within behavior analysis has been stimulated by cultural anthropologist Marvin Harris (1977, 1979, 1986, 1987). Reviews of his publications have appeared in behavioral journals (Lloyd, 1985; Lloyd and Eubanks, 1989; Vargas, 1985) and he has presented papers at meetings of the Association for Behavior Analysis (Glenn, 1991b; Harris, 1986; Penny-packer, 1987). Extensions of behavior analytic principles to cultural phenomena have emphasized contingency analysis (Glenn, 1988; Lamal, 1991), rule-governed behavior (Malott, 1988, 1992), and cultural design to address global issues (Malagodi, 1986; Malagodi and Jackson, 1989).

Changes in organizational culture represent a recurrent theme in OD interventions. Within the management and OD communities, the interest in organizational culture derives largely from its presumed impact on effectiveness (e.g., Deal and Kennedy, 1982; Ouchi, 1979; Ott, 1989; Peters and Waterman, 1982; Saffold, 1988; Uttal, 1983; Wiener, 1988; Wilkins and Dyer, 1988). Although reports linking culture to organizational success have received widespread attention (cf. Peters and Waterman, 1982), the underlying evidence is weak (Wilkins, 1983). Peters and Waterman (1982) examined cultural characteristics of successful companies but failed to ex-amine unsuccessful firms to determine if the cultural attributes were absent. It seems that the opposite and more desirable design of looking first at cultural characteristics and then at their success was not used.

In spite of the assertion by organizational culture perspective advocates of the unique suitability of their approach to organizational change, this literature remains ambivalent about its prospects for successful cultural change (Eubanks and Lloyd, 1992). Conflicting views range from whether a manager should even attempt to change organizational culture because of potential harmful effects (Schein, 1990), to arguments about which strategy to use. Some propose changing organizational culture by changing behavioral norms (Allen and Kraft, 1982), while others postulate that chief executive officers are the gatekeepers of organizational culture (Da-vis, 1984). Equivocation over the ethics of change and strategies for change are attributed to the relative infancy of the organizational culture perspective (Ott, 1989, p. 6) and the lack of grounding in systematic theory and research in the OD literature (Sathe, 1985, p. 1).

A ten-year review of the Journal of Organizational Behavior Management concluded that, while the journal has produced an archive of behavioral change data in organizations, “…we have yet to investigate very large scale interventions in which behavioral principles are employed to change the ‘cultural foundations’ of an organization” (Balcazar et al., 1989, p. 36). More recently, however, interest in organizational culture from a behavioral point of view has gained momentum, including a special issue of the Journal of Organizational Behavior Management devoted exclusively to behavioral approaches to organizational culture. In-depth coverage of the potential of OBM for the study of organizational culture is beyond the scope of the present chapter (see Eubanks and Lloyd, 1992, for an overview of possibilities in this area).

Within the context of OBM contributions to OD goals discussed thus far, the issue of how to maintain and reinforce behavior in organizations leading to enhanced quality in products and services seems most cogent. Total quality management (TQM) emphasizes the improvement of organizational performance and work life quality (Deming 1982; Mawhinney, 1992). A primary emphasis of TQM is on employee participation (Red-mon, 1992), which places it squarely within the class of OD interventions known as employee involvement (Cummings and Worley, 1993). The implementation of TQM, however, is not without its problems, and it is becoming clear that it is not a panacea for enhancing the productivity of either America or Japan (“Is the Baldrige Overblown,” 1991; “The Quality Imperative,” 1991). The importance of OBM in this context is that it provides a way of determining the set of contingencies required for implementing TQM or related employee involvement interventions. performance feedback, for example, has been shown to be effective in enhancing the implementation of TQM in a small metal-part processing company (Henry and Redmon, 1990).

Organizational culture represents a crossover point wherein OBM and OD significantly overlap in their influence. OBM is new to the cultural analysis scene, while OD interventions have been concerned with culture change issues for well over a decade. OBM, as we have noted, has potential for enhancing the implementation of OD-related interventions such as TQM. Much of the OD literature related to organizational culture, how-ever, is concerned with large-scale system change, an area that has not been well represented in OBM literature (Balcazar et al., 1989). However, both the volume on behavioral perspectives of culture (Lamal, 1991), and the current Handbook of Organizational Performance with repeated references to organizational culture attest to the changing interest within OBM related to large-scale system change issues. At this point of crossover between the two fields, we consider what OD may suggest about the question of how to broaden the scope of OBM.

What OD Can Offer OBM

As we have seen, OD has a history of beginning and executing large, systemwide change programs in a plethora of both public and private sector organizations since the 1950s. But what can a traditionally nonempirical, humanistically oriented discipline offer the empirically-based field of OBM? Can we still learn something from a discipline, though tradition-ally much different from our own, that has nearly a generation of seniority? We now examine four ways in which OD might enhance current OBM technology.

Large-Scale System Change Emphasis

A systems view of organizations clearly plays an important role in organization development efforts (French and Bell, 1990, pp. 52-59). Al-though systems concepts are not new to OBM, wide-scale, system-level interventions are still the exception (Balcazar et al., 1989; but see Brethower, 1982, and Parsons, Cash, and Reid, 1989, for variations on this exception).

Goal setting, for example, has been a primary strategy in many OBM interventions, but generally at the individual rather than the organization-wide level. We might begin thinking about goals in terms of descending levels of abstraction, e.g., end-result, strategic, tactical, and program goals (see French and Bell, 1990, p. 59; Gilbert, 1978, p. 118; Rummler and Brache, 1995). Viewed in this manner, goals and the goal-setting process, including the development of mission statements and strategic planning, become part of the larger organizational system (cf. Locke and Latham, 1990). Another view is that these processes are an integral part of organizational culture (Mawhinney, 1992; Redmon and Agnew, 1991; Redmon and Wilk, 1991).

Focus on Work Team Performance

An integral part of systemwide interventions is the examination of an organization’s component subsystems (Weisbord, 1987). Work units, or teams, often constitute an intermediate level of analysis between system-level and individual worker behavior change. As we have seen, a primary emphasis in OD activities is the ongoing work team, including both superiors and subordinates.

A great deal of the current emphasis on work teams can be attributed to the attention, sometimes to the point of obsession, directed at the competitive threat of Japan and other Asian countries. A key element in the TQM approach advocated by Japanese management style and quality gurus such as Deming, Juran, and Crosby is the coordination of work team output to reduce defects. An entire issue of the Journal of Organizational Behavior Management (Mawhinney, 1987) was devoted to reviewing advances in statistical process control (SPC), a prevalent technique within the TQM movement, and its relevance to current OBM technology. Data and guide-lines are now increasingly available on how OBM can be used to enhance implementation of SPC programs (Brown, 1989; Henry and Redmon, 1990; Mawhinney, 1987; Redmon, 1992).

Facilitating Organizational Entry

Many organizations have undertaken a wide variety of OD efforts, from large corporations to schools, communities, and local, state, and federal governments, as well as increasingly international efforts (Cummings and Worley, 1993; French and Bell, 1990). Although numerous reasons have been put forth for OD’s widespread popularity, no data are available to empirically address this question. Based on the author’s experience, two aspects of OD seem to facilitate entry into organizations and acceptance of its interventions: (1) compatibility among the verbal communities of OD and business/administrative clientele (OD practitioners often receive their training in business schools), and (2) client participation and involvement inherent in the action research approach.

Action research underlies most organization development activities (French and Bell, 1990, p. 98) and essentially involves data collection, feedback of the data to clients, and action planning based on the data (Lewin, 1946). The key element in action research is participation by the client in all phases of the process. Participative management and team building can be important in implementing interventions (Fawcett, 1991) and may reduce countercontrol attempts and resistance to change by Organizational members (Miller, 1991; Redmon, 1992).

Perspectives on Social Validity

Participation and involvement by clients relates directly to the notion of social validity (Schwartz and Baer, 1991; Wolf, 1978). Social validation assessments are aimed at evaluating the acceptability or viability of an intervention. Such assessments are usually accomplished by asking consumers to complete a satisfaction questionnaire in order for the program planners or experimenters to be able to anticipate rejection of the program and take steps to prevent or ameliorate problem areas. Surprisingly few interventions reported in the OBM literature address or include social validation processes (Balcazar et al., 1989).

As we have noted with the action research paradigm employed in OD interventions, choices can be made interactively with clients. The concept of collaboration has served the OD community well in involving clients as partners and owners of the process of research and action. Community psychology, a close companion of OD, has a long tradition of client-researcher collaboration (Kelly, 1986), and calls have been registered for establishing this collaborative process as a value for future applications of behavior analysis in communities (Fawcett, 1991, pp. 622-624). A similar approach is suggested by Mawhinney (1989, p. 190) wherein operant measures of job satisfaction are routinely employed as dependent variables in OBM interventions.


Both commonalities and differences among OBM and OD approaches to organizational change have been noted, along with suggestions whereby each field may learn from examining the other’s history. We now examine some issues that require consideration in order to enhance the likelihood of behavior change by practitioners in both fields.

Humble Behaviorism Issues

Neuringer (1991) outlined a concept he named “humble behaviorism,” wherein he called upon behavior analysts to be more tentative in their methodological and theoretical positions, to consider alternatives, and to realize that all knowledge is subject to change. Chase (1991) suggested in response to Neuringer’s humble behaviorist position, “An I’m right/ You’re wrong perspective is disheartening, damaging to the image of behavior analysis held by other scientists, and probably as responsible for the misinterpretations of behavior analysis as any single variable” (p. 15). This call for greater acceptance of diversity by behavior analysts constitutes a critical issue both for evaluating the feasibility of interaction among OD and OBM and for gaining widespread acceptance of OBM.

The issue is not so simple as greater tolerance by behavior analysts, nor does Neuringer imply that it is. As McDowell (1991) suggests, there may be fundamental, and perhaps irreconcilable differences between behavior analysis and other competing behavioral science approaches. The difference that McDowell emphasized was ontological: behavior analysis and other behavioral sciences disagree about what constitutes reality. Behavior analysts advocate a materialist ontology, i.e., the world consists of material objects and events, while other approaches, such as OD, include nonmaterial phenomena, as well as spiritual underpinnings.

OD in Transition

As a field, OD is in a state of flux (cf. Church and Burke, 1993). Many forces evoking behavior in organizations will require new OD techniques. These forces include a shift from traditional hierarchical organizations to flexible networks, empowerment of employees for decision making, and transitions to global thinking as a consequence of ever-increasing competition. Such changes have recently called into question whether the old OD techniques are now appropriate. Alternatives to the traditional top-down, single-organization OD interventions are now being proposed. One approach, for example, might involve interventions with the organization’s board of directors, taking a bottom-up rather than top-down approach, and focusing the OD effort at an interorganizational level.

Regardless of the anticipated changes in organizations and concomitant OD techniques required to meet the challenge of these changes, it is clear that OD has never been a panacea for all of management’s problems (cf. Mirvis and Berg, 1977). Perhaps OD can respond more effectively to these challenges by adopting some of the contributions that OBM has to offer.

Reconciling Different Verbal Communities

OBM and OD have developed concomitantly but are a part of very different verbal communities. The OD approach has been grounded in humanistic philosophy and applied social psychology/management theory, while OBM relies on behavior analysis for its technical and theoretical foundations (however, see Newman, 1992, for a view of behavior analysis as an extension of humanistic philosophy). Consistent with a behavioral perspective, the effectiveness of the two approaches may be left to empirical evaluation and the data that emerge from their application.

But an empirical evaluation is not a criterion for the acceptance of such a descriptive approach in the marketplace. Often description (without empirical evaluation) in the social sciences is accepted by consumers as equivalent to explanation. Management fads come and go and neither OD nor OBM can claim the current spotlight in this arena. Although organizational culture received a great deal of attention in the 1980s, the shift is now toward organizational learning and continuous improvement and related efforts. A metacontingency that encompasses all of these trends or fads is the globalization of the marketplace under conditions of diminished worldwide resources and overpopulation. Clearly, these are challenging times and we need to constantly reexamine the extent to which our technology is serving to enhance the human condition. An overriding implication is that marketability of an organizational change technology cannot be considered as a benchmark of success for either OBM or OD.


The points made here describe important ways in which OBM and OD may reciprocate in developing change technologies that address the challenges of these crucial times for organizations. Behavior analysts are rapidly adopting many of these suggestions and are improving the acceptance by management of behavioral methods (cf. Redmon, 1992). OBM is truly expanding its focus to wide-scale system change. Witness the recent issue of Journal of Organizational Behavior Management (Mawhinney, 1992) devoted to organizational culture and rule-governed behavior. The edited book on behavioral analyses of culture by Lamal (1991) is also an important contribution to this expanded focus by behavior analysts.

In spite of an expanding focus, however, OBM can still benefit from making contact with the OD literature. A rich source of research ideas can be gleaned from the effort. For example, Kurt Lewin’s work was not cited by Skinner, perhaps due to Lewin’s incompatibility with the Baconian orientation that drove Skinner’s work (Smith, 1992). Yet it is clear that many of the ideas behind Lewin’s action research paradigm are proving beneficial to the advancement of behavioral approaches to community development (cf. Fawcett, 1991). Action research is a basic paradigm for the OD field and it is not incompatible with a rigorous, empirical approach.

Many of the research ideas that emerge from a perusal of the OD literature by OBM practitioners will probably be centered on pinpointing the complex social and verbal contingencies that prevail in organizations, contingencies that are currently lumped together under the generic notion of organizational culture (cf. Agnew and Redmon, 1992; Eubanks and Lloyd, 1992; Malott, 1992; Malott, Shimamune, and Malott, 1992). It is not clear at this juncture, however, under what metacontingencies either OBM or OD are effective. As Mawhinney (1992) suggests, even the best-developed organizations may not survive under conditions of chaotic change or a punctuation in some critical aspect of the environment. As contingency theorists, OBM practitioners have much opportunity awaiting them in determining the metacontingencies of organizational survival and in continuing to demonstrate the utility of behavior analysis in solving crucial problems for organizations. There is much work to be done and behavior analysts are well equipped to do it.


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