Organizational Development in India

Organizational Development in India

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Organsations need to be sensitive to the need for change in order to survive in today’s highly competitive and dynamic business environment. Present and future Needs in and outside an Organizations are changing everyday, the organisation needs to be equiped with a clear and deep understanding of them and simultaneously respond to them on a priority basis.
Indian organizations are operating in a highly volatile political and economic environment so even they are facing the same challenge. For decades, the Indian organizations have been less systems-driven and more people and relationship-oriented. This has however changed with the opening up of the economy. They now have to stand up to global competition with borrowed technologies & insecure and relationship-driven employees. The organizations have now realized the need to bring in change rapidly; and hence the acute need for O.D. in Indian organizations.

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In India, O.D. and planned change started in the early 1960s with a group of Indian professionals trained at the National Training Laboratories (NTL) at Bethel, Maine, USA, who brought a good deal of O.D. technology in India. Various programs were started and widely used in the Small Industries Extension Training (SIET) Institute, Hyderabad, State Bank of India and in the Indian Institute of Management (UM) programs in the mid 1960s. Unfortunately these remained isolated efforts and did not take O.D. to its logical conclusions. In the mid-1970s, O.D. was first introduced in India in Larsen and Toubro as a formal and structured part of the HRD department. It was expected that the change process would get institutionalized and more O.D. specialists would be developed. Unfortunately, this did not happen due to the protected and secure environment prevalent in the corporate sector in the country. They never felt the compunction to change. Hence for a very longtime, O.D. remained mostly in academic institutions.
OD is a value-laden technology and there has to be a closeness of fit of specific OD approaches or designs to the cultures, histories and settings. Most organizational theorists recommend a close fit, based upon an overall characterization of OD and estimates of the features of macro-cultures such as nations or regions. The reason behind the slow growth in india is that most of the OD Technologies have originated in US and couldn’t be applied as it is in the Indian organizations. Other reasons have been the fear or distrust of its techniques of confrontation, unsuitability of the the change agent style of informality and an attitude of openness in the indian context. Thus new approaches and designs of O.D. interventions which are based on values embedded in Indian religion and the rich cultural heritage are likely to be accepted more readily in the country as both are highly supportive of change.
In the post liberalization period, every one has been forced to seek change. As a result, the application of O.D. technology has increased. An increasing number of applied behavioral scientists and T-group trainers, the HRD movement and establishment of HRD departments, contributions of multinationals in India and the influence of Western education have finally gained OD the recognition it deserves in india. Professional bodies such as ISABS (Indian Society for Applied Behavioral Sciences), Indian Society for Individual and Social Development (ISISD), Indian Society for Training & Development (ISTD), and the HRD Network, and academic institutions such as the IIMs (Indian Institute of Management) have further strengthened its foundation in the indian corporate environment
Among available O.D. interventions and tools, the most prevalent ones and those that have met with reasonable success in effecting the desired change are:
* Training – eg This was vividly demonstrated through the experience of two O.D. Indian consultants, V. Nilakant & S. Ramanarayan at Chemcorp, a large successful public sector unit in the chemical industry.
* Action research – eg this was successfully applied in The Indian Chemical Company (ICCL).
* Survey feedback - Indian organizations that use survey feedback as a sensing instrument are Crompton Greaves and Larsen & Toubro (L & T)
* HRD and HRD Audit- Perhaps India is the first country to formally establish a totally dedicated HRD (Human Resources Development ) Department separated from the Personnel Department with L&T leading in this respect. The State Bank of India soon followed.
* Role focused interventions
* Person focused interventions
Experience of Indian practitioners in the field of O.D. has highlighted several issues relevant to the Indian organizational environment. In O.D. based change effort in the Indian context, it is essential to take into consideration the prevailing cultural norms, attitudes, beliefs, etc. and leverage the functional ones for making the change effort a success. In India, the role of the government in regulating the activities of an organization is considerable, particularly in the public sector and to some extent in the private sector a as well. While initiating the any O.D. effort, the influencing role of the government cannot be ignored. An issue of concern primarily in Indian organizations is initiating through O.D., structure and processes particularly making functioning flexible and less bureaucratic, decentralizing, but at the same time strengthening accountability; developing a collaborative culture and reorienting people and roles to make them more adaptive.
O.D. has emerged as a specialized function in the management profession. About two decades ago, when O.D. was introduced in India, there were only one or two organizations practicing the concept. Today, one out of ten business organizations has an O.D. department or facilitator, or atleast has institutionalized O.D. mechanisms. Trained O.D. consultants offering their services for initiating and implementing the O.D. effort are also now available. Even the voluntary, non-profit and public sector organizations have realized the importance of O.D. for their survival and growth. While the basic concepts and mechanisms have been studied in the west, they have been altered and developed to suit the largely relationship driven culture of Indian organizations leading to very favorable changes both structurally and culturally in many of them. The realization that learning in today's competitive and fast changing environment is not a mere desirable luxury but a frequent necessity , has not only created a conducive milieu for further growth and intensification of O.D. but also has thrown open challenges for social scientists & O.D. practitioners in India.
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