PB433      Half Unit
Theory and Practice of Organisational Development

This information is for the 2020/21 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Lucia Garcia-Lorenzo


This course is available on the MSc in Behavioural Science, MSc in Human Resources and Organisations (Organisational Behaviour), MSc in Organisational and Social Psychology, MSc in Psychology of Economic Life, MSc in Social and Cultural Psychology and MSc in Social and Public Communication. This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

Course content

Why is Organisational Development (OD) important? Organisations are becoming increasingly complex, more dynamic and faster changing social systems. To confront these changes, organisations need to become nimble, innovative and effective if they are to survive and thrive. 21st century organisations require therefore more flexible organisational structures, new types of leadership and new ways of managing. OD can help organizations navigate this difficult terrain.

What is OD? OD is a critical behavioural science-based process that helps organisations build their capacity to navigate change and achieve greater effectiveness by developing, improving, and reinforcing strategies, structures, and processes. OD objectives: Through a deep analysis of needs and goals, OD strategies aim to bring about specific changes and to ensure that appropriate steps are taken to secure those changes within organisations.

This course explores the management of organisational change and development from a theoretical and practical perspective. While the course is strongly informed by key theoretical frameworks, OD comes into its own in application. Students will be actively encouraged to relate key OD theoretical perspectives to current organisational challenges. The aim of the course is, therefore, two fold: first to explore the body of core theory underpinning the practice; second, to examine the practice of OD as a 'process' (not a 'product' or a 'programme'). 

The course will provide also practical hands-on experience. In seminars and workshops students will gain experience on drafting organizational change interventions, thinking about their implementation and evaluating their potential impact in organised contexts.


10 hours of lectures and 10 hours of seminars in the LT.

Formative coursework

Students will be expected to produce 1 essay in the LT.

Indicative reading

Detailed references and class topics are distributed in the first lecture of the series. The following represents key readings covering some of the topics discussed in the course:

Alvesson, M., & Sveningsson, S. (2015). Changing organizational culture: Cultural change work in progress. Routledge.

Argyris, C. (2008). Teaching smart people how to learn. Harvard Business Review Press.

Cameron, E., & Green, M. (2019). Making sense of change management: A complete guide to the models, tools and techniques of organizational change. Kogan Page Publishers.

Gallos, J. V. (2006). Organization development: A Jossey-Bass reader. Jossey-Bass.

Ghislieri, C., Molino, M., & Cortese, C. G. (2018). Work and organizational psychology looks at the fourth industrial revolution: How to support workers and organizations?. Frontiers in psychology, 9, 2365.

Gioia, D. A., & Chittipeddi, K. (1991). Sensemaking and sensegiving in strategic change initiation. Strategic management journal, 12(6), 433-448.

Hisrich, R. D., & Kearney, C. (2013). Managing innovation and entrepreneurship. Sage Publications.

Vangen, S., & Huxham, C. (2003). Nurturing collaborative relations: Building trust in interorganizational collaboration. The Journal of Applied Behavioral Science, 39(1), 5-31.

Weick, K. E. (1995). Sensemaking in organizations (Vol. 3). Sage.

Western, S. (2019). Leadership: A critical text. SAGE Publications Limited.


Essay (100%, 3000 words) in the LT.

Important information in response to COVID-19

Please note that during 2020/21 academic year some variation to teaching and learning activities may be required to respond to changes in public health advice and/or to account for the situation of students in attendance on campus and those studying online during the early part of the academic year. For assessment, this may involve changes to mode of delivery and/or the format or weighting of assessments. Changes will only be made if required and students will be notified about any changes to teaching or assessment plans at the earliest opportunity.

Key facts

Department: Psychological and Behavioural Science

Total students 2019/20: Unavailable

Average class size 2019/20: Unavailable

Controlled access 2019/20: No

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Leadership
  • Self-management
  • Team working
  • Problem solving
  • Application of information skills
  • Communication
  • Specialist skills