Organization Development

W. Warner Burke / Debra A. Noumair  
Total pages
May 2017
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Organization Development
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Designed to serve managers, executives, administrators, consultants, and students, Organization Development, Third Edition brings together a complete overview of the modern field of organization development (OD). Fully updated to reflect major changes since the classic Second Edition, it presents a thorough overview of OD as it is now practiced, and how it is continuing to evolve. The authors illuminate each key theory in the field, giving readers the background they need to translate theory into action, make key choices, help organizations learn, and lead change. Coverage includes:  

  • What OD is, where it came from, and where it is headed
  • Understanding OD as a process of change
  • Defining the OD client (why your client may not be who you think it is)
  • Diagnosing organizational problems
  • Applying the Burke-Litwin model of organizational performance and change
  • Assessing how well OD techniques work
  • Working as an OD consultant, and much more


The definitive, classic guide to organization development – now fully revised to reflect the latest changes in the field.  

  • Thorough coverage: what organization development is, how it has evolved, and where it's headed
  • Illuminates key theories underlying organization development, and explains how practitioners typically translate those theories into practice
  • Ideal for managers, consultants, and students alike: encourages readers to develop a position and make choices

Table of Contents

Preface     xii

Part I: The Field of Organization Development

Chapter 1: What Is Organization Development?      1

Chapter 2: Organization Development Then and Now     17

Chapter 3: Where Did Organization Development Come From?      45

Chapter 4: Organization Development as a Process of Change     69

Part II: Understanding Organizations: Diagnosis

Chapter 5: Defining the Client: A Different Perspective     101

Chapter 6: Understanding Organizations: The Process of Diagnosis     115

Chapter 7: The Burke-Litwin Model of Organizational Performance and Change     145

Chapter 8: Understanding Organizations: Covert Processes     161

Part III: Changing Organizations

Chapter 9: Planning and Managing Change     185

Chapter 10: Understanding and Changing Loosely Coupled Systems     209

Chapter 11: Does Organization Development Work?      239

Chapter 12: The Organization Development Consultant     255

Chapter 13: Coaching and Organization Development     281


Chapter 14: Organization Development and the Future     307

References     325

Index     355

Back Cover

Master the Modern Discipline of Organization Development (OD) and Use It to Achieve Effective Change

  • The definitive guide to OD, fully updated with new techniques for new environments
  • Covers all stages of the OD project lifecycle, from identifying clients through measuring results
  • Introduces the powerful Burke-Litwin model of organizational performance and change and includes covert processes beneath the surface of the model that influence organizational dynamics
Organization Development is today's complete overview of the OD discipline for all managers, executives, administrators, consultants, and students. Fully updated to reflect major changes since the classic second edition, it explains how OD is now practiced and how it is continuing to evolve.

W. Warner Burke and Debra A. Noumair illuminate key theories in the field, providing all the insights and knowledge you need to translate theory into action, make choices, help your organization learn, and lead change. They cover all essential issues associated with defining clients, diagnosing organizational problems, identifying options, selecting techniques, assessing performance, and more.

Throughout, this edition introduces many new perspectives and techniques, including integrating covert processes into organization diagnosis, consulting to loosely coupled systems, linking coaching with OD, and successfully promoting OD in modern organizational environments.

Organizational culture is the single greatest barrier to change for any system, whether profit-making or nonprofit, government, educational, or religious institution. This book is the definitive guide to consulting about change by responding to a client’s need for change, collaborating to plan and implement change, and actually achieving lasting change in an organization’s culture.

W. Warner Burke and Debra A. Noumair begin by offering a clear and usable definition of OD and explaining how the discipline continues to evolve. Next, they introduce proven techniques for understanding any organization, diagnosing its problems, and accounting for the “covert” emotional forces that shape it.

Building on this foundation, Burke and Noumair show how to plan and manage change in organizations of all types and sizes, including “loosely coupled” organizations with less hierarchy and fewer interdependencies.

The authors carefully assess empirical research on OD’s effectiveness, offer up-to-date guidance on building an OD consulting career, and present new insights into the role of coaches. They conclude by identifying trends likely to reshape OD in the future and outlining ways to prepare.

Previous editions of Organization Development have proven invaluable to managers, executives, administrators, organizational consultants, and students entering the field. For today’s practitioners, this extensively revised edition will be equally indispensable.

  • Understanding OD as a process of change: Mastering OD’s fundamental change models and consultation phases
  • Discovering organizations as they really are: Recognizing your true client, the real problem, and your actual obstacles
  • Transforming flat, informal, “loosely coupled” organizations: Making OD continuous, small-scale, improvisational, accommodative, and local
  • OD career-building: a complete new primer: Consulting, coaching, and preparing for the future


W. Warner Burke is the E. L. Thorndike Professor of Psychology and Education and a founder of the graduate programs in social-organizational psychology at Teachers College, Columbia University. Originally educated as a social-organizational psychologist (Ph.D., University of Texas, Austin), Dr. Burke is currently engaged in teaching, research, and consulting. He teaches leadership and organization change and consultation. His research focuses on multi-rater feedback, leadership, organization change, and learning agility. Dr. Burke's consulting experience has been with a variety of organizations in business/industry, education, government, religious, health care systems, and professional services firms.

Prior to his move to Teachers College, Dr. Burke was Professor of Management and Chair of the Department of Management at Clark University. Prior to the Clark assignment, Dr. Burke was an independent consultant from 1974 to 1976. For eight years he was a full-time professional with the NTL Institute for Applied Behavioral Science, where he was Director for Executive Programs and Director of the Center for Systems Development (1966-1974). For eight years beginning in 1966, he also served as the Executive Director of the Organization Development Network.

Dr. Burke is a Fellow of the Academy of Management, the Association for Psychological Science, and the Society of Industrial and Organizational Psychology. He has served on the Board of Governors of the Academy of Management and the American Society for Training and Development (now Association for Talent Development), and he is a Diplomate in industrial/organizational psychology, American Board of Professional Psychology. From 1979 to 1985 he was Editor of the American Management Association's quarterly, Organizational Dynamics, and from 1986 to 1989 he originated and served as Editor of the Academy of Management Executive. Dr. Burke is the author of more than 150 articles and book chapters on organization development, training, change and organizational psychology, and conference planning and author, coauthor, editor, and coeditor of 20 books. His latest (2014) book is Organization Change: Theory and Practice, 4th Edition (Sage).

Among his many awards are the Public Service Medal from NASA, the Distinguished Scholar-Practitioner Award from the Academy of Management, Lifetime Achievement Awards from the OD Network and Linkage, and the Distinguished Professional Contributions Award from the Society of Industrial and Organizational Psychology.

Debra A. Noumair is Founder and Director of the Executive Masters Program in Change Leadership (XMA), Director of Executive Education Programs in Change and Consultation, Academic Program Coordinator of Graduate Programs, and Associate Professor, in Social-Organizational Psychology in the Department of Organization and Leadership at Teachers College, Columbia University. Professor Noumair is currently engaged in teaching, research, consulting, and coaching; the focus of her work is on applying systems psychodynamics to executive education as well as to organization change at multiple levels with individuals, teams, and organizations. She teaches courses on organization change and consultation and executive coaching.

Dr. Noumair is a coeditor of the Emerald book series, Research on Organization Change and Development, and a coeditor of Group Dynamics , Organizational Irrationality , and Social Complexity: Group Relations Reader 3. She serves on the Editorial Boards of The Journal of Applied Behavioral Science and the OPUS International Journal, Organisational and Social Dynamics.

As director of numerous leadership development programs, Dr. Noumair brings her work on individual, group, and organizational dynamics to executives through examining multi-rater feedback and psychological assessments at the individual and group level and through teaching and executive coaching with senior executives nationally and internationally. Much of her executive education work involves partnering with organizations to address the advancement of women through teaching group dynamics and assessment-anchored executive coaching. Dr. Noumair consults to organizations on culture change, senior team effectiveness, intergroup and interorganizational relations, and issues related to diversity at work. A group relations scholar and practitioner, Dr. Noumair is a Fellow of the A. K. Rice Institute. She has consulted to and directed group relations conferences nationally and served on the Board of Directors of the A. K. Rice Institute for nine years.

Dr. Noumair received her bachelor’s degree from Boston University and holds masters and doctoral degrees from Teachers College, Columbia University. She is a member of the American Psychological Association, the Academy of Management, and the Organization Development Network.