Organizational Development – Part 1: Definitions

As a traditional approach to any concept, I tried to gather definitions of organizational development since 1969. It is believed that the phrase “Organizational Development” has born in 1969 when Beckhard used it for the first time.

Organizational Development got its attention for about 40 years, but it seems that after 2000 many questions have arisen about the value it brings to the organization. In this series I would do my best to be the storyteller of the Organizational Development life so far. In each article, different references would be used which can be found in the reference section.

There are many definitions (like any other concept) trying to clarify what the OD really is, but it seems that whit time passing by, the definition of this concept is becoming more vague than it was in the past. Look at the pictures below which indicates the definitions provided so far.

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Evolution in the OD could be a sensed through the changes in the definitions. After 2000, the world has been changing in a fast pace and there are many new findings which has changed the way we look at the world. This has caused many changes in the approaches practitioners take to look at the OD as a tool to have a better organization.

There are other definitions of OD which I could not find. You are more than welcome to add to this list in the comments.

In the next part, we will be discussing the evolution of OD through the time.


  • Helen, F, Linda, H, & Martin, R 2012, People and Organisational Development : A New Agenda for Organisational Effectiveness, CIPD, London. Available from: ProQuest Ebook Central.
  • CIPD (2019) Organisation Development Factsheet. Available at: