Quantifying Qualitative OD Results: Dispelling the touchy-feely stigma

Lisa Nielsen

Abstract


Evaluation enables agility and ability to self-correct mid-course. It provides Organization Development (OD) practitioners with an opportunity to continually learn from their experiences to catalyzing the evolution and refinement of their tools and skills. Oddly, the field of OD does not have an extensive history of evaluation; the quality, scarcity and validity of its evaluations have been heavily questioned since the field’s inception. In contrast to the reflective rigor one might expect from a discipline that advocates high degrees of reflection from its clients, OD evaluations have provided largely anecdotal information; criteria for success has been subjective and testimonial in nature. This phenomenological research paper examines what forms of evaluation current OD practitioners utilize, what is missing from their approach, and the implications this has for the longevity of the field of OD.  The ideological lineage of Behavioral Science epistemology leads to encouraging a type of empirically based evaluation practice, as represented in Campbell and Stanley’s (1963) 12 Threats to Validity that may not be a good fit for Behavioral Science consultants engaging in systemically scaled interventions in a business context. This paper makes recommendations for further developments in evaluation methodology that more aptly suit a capitalist marketplace. 

Keywords


Organization Development; Evaluation; Metrics; ROI; Positivism; Quantifying Results; Measuring Human Capital Engagements

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