Over the years, the field of organization development (OD) has been accused of being a soft or weak science (cf. White and Mitchell, 1976; Terpstra, 1982) or, in the extreme, of being biased (cf. Bass, 1983; Terpstra, 1981) and therefore perhaps not really science at all. Since what might be called the normal science paradigm appears dominant in organizational studies (Morgan, 1983; Peters and Robinson, 1984), such an accusation has apparently also been viewed as extremely damaging and serious and as warranting a vigorous rebuttal and defense (so that the field would not be viewed as less rigorous than others such as organizational behavior or organization theory). Defensive responses to these accusations have varied, from direct investigations into positive findings bias (e.g. Bullock and Svyantek, 1983; Woodman and Wayne, 1985), to studies focusing on relatively methodological aspects of measuring change (e.g. Golembiewski et al., 1976; Van de Vliert et al., 1985). Some have even responded to methodological criticisms of OD as a field by denying the relevance of traditional normal science methodology for OD in general (e.g. Argyris et al., 1985; Beer and Walton, 1987). Although there is merit in arguing that normal science, with its emphasis on controlled experimentation, is often inappropriate for studying organization change interventions, the authors feel that recent advances in structural equation modeling may permit the relatively rigorous (in the normal science sense) study of OD interventions without imposing unrealistic assumptions or impossible limitations on action research. Thus, the purpose of this article is to present this approach in relatively nonmathematical terms, so that OD scholars and practitioners may see its usefulness and consider employing it in future change assessments. In doing this, the authors wish to note that some liberties are taken with respect to notation and statistical formulation.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Decision Sciences(all)
- Strategy and Management
- Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management
- Management of Technology and Innovation