OD discourse and domination

Authored by: Maxim Voronov , Warner P. Woodworth

The Routledge Companion to Organizational Change

Print publication date:  October  2011
Online publication date:  October  2012

Print ISBN: 9780415556453
eBook ISBN: 9780203810279
Adobe ISBN: 9781136680908


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This chapter draws on critical discourse analysis to analyze the field of Organization Development (OD) as a discourse. We argue that the OD discourse is characterized by the following: overwhelmingly psychological focus, construction of individuals as rational and bounded, and avoidance of sociological questions. We argue that the failure of OD to humanize organizations highlighted by a number of OD writers does not result from the failings of particular OD practitioners, but rather, that it is rooted in the very discourse of OD, which renders the field incapable of navigating the socio-economic context in which organizations operate and are constituted. We pick up on Marshak’s (2005) speculation about the emergence of a “new” OD to argue that the “old” OD has reached a dead end and that the discourse that is constitutive of OD should be revolutionized, if OD practitioners are serious about making organizations more humane.

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