This paper seeks to prove the truthfulness or falsity of the proposition that human resource strategies should be underpinned by ‘organisation development’ theories which suggest ways that people in an organisation should be managed.

Before we could make inference on the proposition we need to define the following terms in the proposition:
1. Human Resource – This is referring to an inventory of talents, skills and capabilities of a group of persons which may be tapped for a purpose of economic value. The FreeDictionary by Farlex, 2005, defines is as “The company department charged with finding, screening, recruiting and training job applicants, as well as administering employee-benefit programs
2. Organizational Development – It is basically a method for facilitating change and development in people (styles, values, skills), technology (greater simplicity, complexity), and in organizational processes (relationships, roles). For example, if a HR manager wants to introduce a form of participative management where a paternalistic style has traditionally existed, he or she would have to become an “inside change agent.” (Chruden & Sherman, 1984, p.548)
3. Strategy – A plan or a course of action adopted to accomplish a given purpose.
4. Human resource strategies – It therefore means plans for the maximum use of the inventory of talents, skills and capabilities of group of persons which may be tapped for a purpose of economic value.
5. Organizational Development Strategies – We could define it as a plan to facilitate change and development in people, in technology and in organizational processes. The topic also defines OD strategy by saying, “which suggests that people in the organization should be managed.”
5. Underpin – It means to act as a support or foundation for something (MSN Encarta dictionary, 2005)

Preliminary Inference on the Proposition

The proposition must be true because one cannot have human resource strategies without human beings and human resource does not only talk about individual human resource in isolation but also of how to combine these individual resources in the context of an organization (Dictionary Definition of organisation, 2005) or group of humans or people to attain corporate objectives. A corporation, a partnership or even a sole proprietorship is a business organization with people in it either in the form of an employee, manager, supervisor, creditor, advisor or any other roles. In a reality, the world is a whole big organization and all sub-organizations where there are groups of people could be called organization in a generic sense. Hence an organization is governed by a system or modes of actions which allow its members interaction which is basically human in nature.
Human resource talks of people as a factor of production in economics and such the next question really is: How would management try to maximize the use of human resource? When we can answer the question then we are talking of Human Resource Strategy. Could organization development be a strange thing then? I submit the answer is obvious, human resource must indispensably talk of group or groups of people through organizational development and therefore the latter must underpin the former.

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Examples of HR and OD Strategies

HR strategies would defend on corporate objectives and with due consideration for industry threat and opportunities as well company’s strengths and weaknesses. These strategies could include expense control in the form of better employment administration, better benefit administration, and retirement services. HR strategies could also include strategies pursuant to revenue generation particularly on the following areas: recruitment and selection, performance measurements, and training and development. Other strategies could include protection of profits on the following areas: government compliance, employer liability management and owner Support. (HR Powerhouse, 2004)

On the other hand, examples of OD strategies would include the following:

Taking advantage of Self-Fulfilling Prophecy or Pygmalion Effect
Dr. John Brunstetter (Carlsbad Chamber of Commerce, 2006) confirms this when he said that another stream of research suggests that employee behavior is also influenced by external forces such as “significant others” and the work environment. He cited Moll, Rosenthal and Oberlander when the latter concluded that the expectations (positive or negative) of the supervisor have a direct bearing on employee motivation and productivity. Dr Brunstetter said, “Rosenthal developed the concept of the Self-Fulfilling Prophecy or Pygmalion Effect to explain the profound impact of the supervisor’s expectations of the subordinate on that person’s actual performance.” (Brunstetter, 1999)

He also posited that organizational research for positive self-concept leads to the following conclusions:

1. What managers expect of their subordinates and the way they treat them largely determine their subordinate’s current performance and later career progress.
2. A unique characteristic of superior managers is their ability to create high performance expectations that subordinates fulfil.
3. Less effective managers fail to develop high performance expectations and, as a consequence, the immediate performance and career development of subordinates is diminished.
(Brunstetter, 1999)

Another example OD strategy is the need to have Systematic trust building between supervisor and employees.

Dr. Brunstetter discussed the OD strategy when he disproves the myth that employees need to be pushed to perform. He cited that contemporary research and practical experience indicating that employees do seek varying amounts of direction from those in authority. ? He was emphatic to say that contrary to popular belief, employees do need, do expect and do often demand differing amounts of freedom and structure. He posited that what makes the freedom-structure phenomena difficult to manage is the high degree of variability among employees?. According to him, “Action research results suggest that productivity improvement should be systematic and not exclusively dependent on the management style and values of the supervisor. The employee and supervisor need to independently identify and understand their own unique work-related needs.” (Brunstetter, 1999) (Paraphrasing made)
Based on this he recommended that a common measurement tool and common language must then be developed to guarantee the systematic measurement of these employee/supervisor needs and values and believes that increases in productivity begin with increased trust between the supervisor and the employee. Concluding he said that systematic trust building continues with an ongoing sharing of these work-related needs in a safe and open work environment. (Brunstetter, 1999) (Paraphrasing made)

Purpose of HR, OD strategies

HR strategies area made to accomplish the maximization of the use of human resource to attain corporate objectives both economic and non-economic. If OD strategy underpins HR strategy then part of OD’s definition (It intends to facilitate change and development in people, in technology and in organizational processes.) will give more meaning to the attainment of HR objectives.

Further Proof on HR and OD strategy relationship

Health Improvement Programme 2001 – 2004 of NHS documented its plans among others as follows:
It adopted and divided its strategy for 2001/04 into the following: (1) Workforce, Information and Planning; (2) Training, Education and Development, (3) Human Resources; and (4) Organizational Development
Under Workforce, Information and Planning, the NHS Plan predicted, between 2001 and 2004, an additional, 7,500 Consultants, 2,000 General Practitioners, 20,000 Nurses 6,500 Therapists and other health professionals It reported that Royal College of Nursing’s view of the national picture is that “? if retirement and other losses stay at the current rates, the NHS will nationally need to recruit in excess of 110,000 new nurses over this period, to meet the target. It estimated that less than half of them will come from education. A shortfall of almost 57,000 to be met from returnees and overseas recruitment is clear. It also said that the British Medial Association has estimated a need for 10,000 more General Practitioners saying that an ” expansion of the General Practice workforce of the order of 30% is required.” . (Health Improvement Programme, 2001.p.103) (Paraphrasing made)
NHS also planned training, education and development of people in the organization by citing among other things the three overarching priorities for action as follows:
1. Develop a greater use of education consortia influence and commissioning to influence new skill requirements/mix of skills/the development of new roles meets future service/HImP needs.
2. Establishment of a robust integrated multi-organizational and multi-functional workforce planning process within the HImP planning infrastructure paying particular attention to primary care issues.
3. Development of a robust cross-organizational focus on key HR community themes and issues which require multi-organization attention/innovative/creative approaches – for example where there is a lack of available skills/competition for scarce skills. (Health Improvement Programme, 2001.p.104)
In planning its human resources, NHS based the same on meeting high demands on the workforce. In improving working lives standard, it sets out the model for good employment practice by employing key elements of the HR Performance Framework which include the following:
1. By April 2003, all NHS Organizations are expected to be accredited as putting the “Improving Working Lives” Standard into practice.
2. Explicit local action, with accountability at board level, to co-ordinate and deliver continuing professional development for all professional groups linked to strategic initiatives at confederation and regional office level.
3. Increases in staff accommodation nationally of 1,500 new staff accommodation units by April 2002. (This will not be addressed locally during 2001/02.)
4. Improved childcare provision including 20 new nurseries by April 2002. (Health Improvement Programme, 2001.p.105)
Organizational Development for NHS focuses on the need to review the arrangements for partnership working. It said that a Joint Development Board (JDB) has been established comprising Chief Officers from local health organizations and the local authorities with the purpose of leading and developing partnership arrangements for the South Humber area, relating particularly to the health and social care and healthy living interface. The partnership working will maximise the opportunities for integration in establishing new ways of planning and delivering services thereby meeting better the needs of clients and patients. NHS said that the strategy “will be used as a focus for OD across the health community.” (Health Improvement Programme, 2001.p.106) (Paraphrasing made)

Evaluate theory vs. practice for NHS

It is clear that NHS did use strategies or plans from 2001 to 2004 as indicated above. The remaining question then is: Are the NHS’ strategies in accordance with theory. I submit yes. To confirm the truthfulness of the assertion, let us go back to the original proposition which states that “the plan for maximum use of the inventory of talents, skills and capabilities of a group of persons which may be tapped for a purpose of economic value should be strengthened by a plan to facilitate change and development in people, in technology and in organizational processes.”

The HR strategies are based on identified workforce and information plan. The HR plan states”

“To meet the high demands on the workforce, the NHS must make sure that it values its staff and reflects this in both a better working environment and improved training and development. The Improving Working Lives standard sets out the model for good employment practice in the NHS.” The strategy even established key elements of the HR Performance Framework in the strategy which indicates that NHS is determined to put into maximum use the talent, skills and capabilities of group of persons.

Better working environment and improved training development are essential HR strategies being adopted to meet the increasing demand for workforce.

On the OD level, NHS says “In order to meet the increasing need to collaborate on the many issues facing the local health community, the statutory agencies have reviewed the arrangements for partnership working. A Joint Development Board (JDB) has been established comprising Chief Officers from local health organisations and the local authorities. ?. The JDB will agree an approach to the use of Health Act flexibilities that maximises the opportunities for integration in establishing new ways of planning and delivering services that better meet the needs of clients and patients. It will be used as a focus for OD across the health community. The NHS Plan sets a radical and ambitious programme of change for the NHS. Achieving demanding targets whilst simultaneously changing staff attitudes across the NHS requires what the NHS Plan calls “a step change in the calibre of NHS leadership”.
Review for partnership working from local health organizations and local authorities will agree an approach to the use of Health Act flexibilities that maximise the opportunities for integration, which will be used as focus for organizational development across the health community. NHS Strategy tries to achieve demanding targets while at the same time changing staff attitudes. In other words, the NHS sees the need for organizational development strategies to under pin its HR strategies.

In fact in concluding its HR and OD strategies, NHS was quoted as stating:

“However, the HR and OD implication of the various action plans, coupled with the targets outlined in the NHS Plan, should not be underestimated. Further involvement of all stakeholders in delivering and further developing the strategy is vital to ensure its success.” (Health Improvement Programme, 2001.p.107)


We have established the truthfulness of the propostion through valid argumentation , by exemplification of the terms and by the use of an organization which adopted an HR and OD strategies. Therefore there is enough basis to say that Od strategies underpin HR strategies in attaining corporate objectives.
The alternative of not integrating OD theory with HRM theory is of course a possibility under the sun but why go for an option that will not give you your full potential to attain your objective? Well, as in all kinds of choice, factors relating to cost-benefit will always be there. In other words, everybody may just want to reach the moon that it is just costly that only the astronauts must be sent.
All points to the truthfulness of the proposition that HR strategies are strengthened by OD strategies. Maximization of HR resources is better attained by changing attitudes of people in an organization and making every stakeholders support these corporate strategies because they believe in corporate objectives.

1) Brunstetter, J., OD Strategies, Individual, Team & Organizational Development, 1999, The Myths of Motivation, [WWW document]. URL <>,
2) Carlsbad Chamber of Commerce, 2006, Team Interplay, Inc. – Business Directory, [WWW document]. URL
3) Chruden, H. & Sherman, Jr., A, Managing Human Resource, 984, South Western Publishing, Cincinnati, USA. (Chruden & Sherman, 1984,p.548)
4) Cusack, C, no date, An Introduction to Logic, [WWW document]. URL’defintion%20of%20proposition%20in%20logic’
5) Dictionary Definition of organization, 2005, [WWW document]. URL
6) Health Improvement Programme 2001 – 2004, 2001, Supporting Strategies, [WWW document]. URL’OD%20strategies’.
7) HR Power House, 2004, Administaff Services, [WWW document]. URL
8) MSN Encarta dictionary, 2005, [WWW document]. URL
9) The FreeDictionary by Farlex, 2005, [WWW document]. URL <>.
10) United Kingdom > Department of Health > National Health Service (NHS), 2006, [WWW document]. URL

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