Organization Development Network of Western New York

The OD/HR Relationship: How Collaboration Can Strengthen Both!

Posted in Diversity Facilitation, Facilitation, ODN of WNY Members, Organizational Development, Programs by Michael Cardus on November 10, 2011

ODN of Western New York

November Meeting Announcement

“The OD/HR Relationship: How Collaboration Can Strengthen Both!”

Barbara B. Bunker, Ph.D

Friday November 18, 2011

8:30 am to 11:30 am (8:30 am to 9:00 am – networking; 9:00 am to 11:30 am – meeting)

New Era Cap, 160 Delaware Avenue, Buffalo, NY 14202

Parking is available in the New Era visitor’s lot, on the street, or in various lots/ramps located within a block of New Era. Refreshments are available for purchase in the New Era cafeteria by requesting a visitor’s pass from the lobby receptionist.

Meeting Overview

Barbara Bunker will report on the “Conference within a Conference (CwiC)”, an HR/OD-focused experience within the Baltimore ODN Conference 2011 that she and Dick Axelrod created. The CwiC sessions focused on how major companies like Disney strengthen HR/OD collaboration, build OD competency and structure the HR/OD relationship. Here’s an overview of the sessions that Barbara will report on:

Session I

Chris Trout, Vice President of Human Resources, Walt Disney Imagineering, spoke about the emerging collaboration of HR and OD at Disney designed to extend the capacity of both functions.

Session 2

Dick Axelrod and Barbara Bunker presented their rationale for providing HR Business Partners with specific, core OD concepts using examples from companies such as Disney and Novartis. They proposed a model of the theory and skills needed in three areas: 1) identifying the “basics,” including core consulting skills; 2) supporting groups and teams – and meetings; and 3) using systems-level interventions, including change management and employee engagement.


David Jamieson and Judy Vogel discussed three issues that influence the development of the optimal organizational structure required for a successful, collaborative relationship between OD and HR. These three issues surfaced during his work as the editor of a special issue of the OD Practitioner on OD and HR in October, 2010. The issues include: 1) creating a design or model for HR, including the positioning of HR Business Partners; 2) establishing Business Partner roles, expectations, and priorities, and creating and positioning alignment and relationship with clients; and 3) creating roles, structures, and processes for OD, HR Business Partners, and clients that promote both collaboration and needed separation.

Discussion about the relationship between OD and HR in organizations will follow.

Presenter Bio


Barbara Benedict Bunker (Ph.D. Columbia University) is an organizational social psychologist and Professor of Psychology Emeritus at the University at Buffalo (SUNY). Her research and writing interests are diverse but focus in the area of organizational change and organizational effectiveness. She is a licensed Psychologist in New York.

Her activities in the area of planned organizational change span more than 35 years. She participated in some of the first Organization Development (OD) projects with Ron Lippitt, Matt Miles and Goodwin Watson. As an active member of NTL (National Training Laboratories) Institute when it re-organized in the mid-1970s, she was a Director for 7 years and Chairperson of the Board for 3 years. She has been a partner in the Portsmouth Consulting Group since 1981.

As an organizational consultant, Barbara Bunker has assisted clients with individuals, teams, departments, and the whole organization. She has worked as a coach and consultant to individuals in areas of performance appraisal, career development and leadership skills. At the team or department level, she consults about long range vision and strategy, work analysis, organizational design, blocks to effective functioning. At the organization level, she has worked on interdepartmental issues, managing diversity and organizational culture change. At the community level, she has worked with churches and community church coordinating groups, mental health associations, the Red Cross and other agencies to plan their futures and increase their effectiveness. She has worked with major business, governmental, voluntary, educational, and professional organizations. Her clients have included Corning, Inc., The Bush Foundation Educators Program, Eastman Kodak, Cummins Engine, Lubrizol, ITT, IRS, NASA, British Air, The King’s Fund, Irwin Financial, Kaleida Health, The Erie County Mental Health Association, the Universities of Cincinnati and British Columbia, Canisius College, Columbia, Stanford, and Zayed (United Arab Emirates) Universities. Most recently, she has had contracts with Novartis, Walt Disney, Bristol-Myers Squibb, and the Mandel Leadership Institute in Jerusalem.

Barbara Bunker with her colleague Billie Alban has become nationally and internationally known for her work systematizing a number of new methods of organization and community change that work at the systems level. These Large Group Methods bring together stakeholders in a common enterprise to discuss, debate and search for common ground on which to move forward. She has written about them, used them in her own practice, and written two books and edited two journals about the exciting work that is being done in this area of practice.

Barbara Bunker is faculty for the executive development program, Principles and Practices of Organization Development (PPOD) at Columbia University. She has been an invited keynote speaker at numerous national conferences. She has presented invited seminars (with Billie Alban) on Large Group Interventions in England, Canada, Netherlands, Sweden, Singapore, New Zealand, and Korea.

In 1984 and again in 1990 she was selected as a Fulbright Lecturer to Japan. She taught at Keio University and at Kobe University in the School of Business Administration. In 1998, she was exchange professor at Konan University in Kobe, Japan and at Hangzhou University in China. During these exchanges, she has had the opportunity to study Asian organizations. She has also published a study of Senior Japanese women executives with data collected in the 1980s and in the 1990s in Japan.

Her books include Conflict, Cooperation, and Justice (1995) with Jeffery Rubin, and Large Group Interventions: Engaging the whole system for rapid change (1997) and The Handbook of Large Group Methods: Creating systemic change in organizations and communities. (June 2006) with Billie Alban.


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