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Implementing Large-Scale Organization Development and Change in the States

PAQ, Vol. 33 No. 2, (2009)

This paper highlights some of the cognitions and behaviors that state-level administrators and Organization Development (OD) change agents need to exhibit if a sustained momentum toward change is to occur. Previous research has highlighted particular states and their “reforms,” but the literature does not contain specific information on implementation techniques. Details are presented from a large-scale OD process that was introduced by Governor Tom Ridge and his top administrative team during his administration in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The findings were derived from thirty-seven semi-structured interviews and participant observations of the author during a five year analysis of the change effort. Interviews were conducted with Ridge staff members, executive branch upper-management, legislative members, employees in state agencies, ex-Governors of the Commonwealth, and political insiders. The findings show that success in large-scale change interventions is a function of hurdling several key obstacles that lay in the path of change. In addition, the findings highlight that particular administrative leadership skills are necessary in order to overcome these obstacles, and they shed light on factors that state administrators and OD professionals need to consider when attempting large-scale change.

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