Developmental Stages of Organizations

Parallels between Personal and Organizational Developmental Action-Logics



Extract from C.D. McCauley et al. / The Leadership Quarterly 17 (2006) The use of constructive-developmental theory to advance the understanding of leadership:
  • Organization development from a constructive-developmental perspective. Torbert & Associates (2004) posit a sequence of action logics that describe stages of organization development—the sequence is analogous to the action logics in individual development. For example, an organization at the System Productivity stage of development focuses its attention on systematic accomplishment of the goals of the organization, analogous to the Achiever's focus on delivering result and effectiveness within the system. These organization development stages were originally derived by comparing numerous theories of interpersonal, group, and organization development to an analysis of five organizing cycles in one organization. Further case studies extended and refined the framework. The framework has been used extensively in consulting interventions by a number of action inquiry practitioners; however, the model has not yet been widely tested in the organizational development field. Two studies (Leigh, 2002; Rooke & Torbert, 1998) have demonstrated that organizations can be reliably categorized by observers as operating primarily at one of Torbert's stages of development. Leigh found strong correlations between the degree to which organizations combine financial and social responsibility and their rated stage of development. Although these first steps in validating this model of organization development are positive, much continued work is needed.
  • Sources: 
    • Leigh, J. (2002, August). Developing corporate citizens: Linking organizational developmental theory and corporate responsibility. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Academy of Management, Denver, CO


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