Organization development, however invited sharp criticism as a strategy to increase organizational viability and effectiveness because many OD programs have failed. Much of the enthusiasm created at the beginning of OD programs vanished over the period of time. In early 60s, OD became quite successful with many professional consultants offering high services and programs to various organizations. By 70s, however, substantial disenchantment with OD became evident because of many controversial OD techniques like sensitivity training, confrontation techniques, etc. Research studies have also failed to conclude significant contributions of OD in all organizations, particularly in bottom-line ones. Therefore, OD cannot be taken as panacea for curing all organizational problems. In general, OD is criticized on the following lines:
- There is discrepancy between ideal and real situations. OD tries to achieve ideal without taking into account real.
- OD makes people unfit for the real organizational world because no organization can fully adopt open system concept.
- Resistance to change is a natural phenomenon and OD puts undue pressure to change. Hence it fails even as a long-term strategy.
- OD fails to motivate people with low level of achievement needs. If an organization is laden with these people, it is useless to try OD.
- OD programs are often quite costly, and only large organizations can afford this luxury without any guarantee of positive outcome.
It can be seen that many of these criticism are based on reality and experience. People realized its dysfunctional aspects only when many OD efforts failed. However, it may be emphasized that OD programs are likely to fail when these are not undertaken properly. In fact, there have been cases of wrong implementation of OD programs and hence failure. For example, Evans has identified three factors which have been responsible for the failure of OD programs;
- Failure of the management consultant group to correctly tailor the program to actual needs of the organization.
- Failure to correctly model appropriate personnel behavior in the program.
- Failure to increase employee motivation through participation and development of personal growth and self-esteem. Thus, it can be visualized that OD itself may not be dysfunctional but application may be. Therefore, in order to make best use of OD efforts, some specific efforts are required. Some of these efforts are as follows:
- There should be genuine support of OD program from top management.
- Organization must formulate the objectives of OD program very clearly and specifically
- Enough time should be allowed so that the effects of OD program are realized.
- There should be proper use of OD intervention. These should be based on the specific needs of the organization.
- Only fully component OD consultant should be pressed for the service and he should develop understanding with internal change agents.