Dr. D.Dutta Roy, Ph.D.

Organizational diagnosis is a process based upon behavioral science theory for publicly entering a human system, collecting valid data about human experiences with that system, and feeding that information back to the system to promote increased understanding of the system by its members (Alderfer, 1981). Purpose of organizational diagnosis is to establish a widely shared understanding of a system and based upon that understanding to determine whether change is desirable. 

Concept of system 

System can be viewed as a linkage of input flows (energy, materials, information, human resources, economic resources) from sources in the external environment, a transforming mechanism (a machine or a technical-human organization), and flows of outputs or outcomes provided to users. System may include one or more feedback mechanisms for self-regulation. 

 Focus of attention

Diagnostic activities should focus its attention to two areas – (a) subsystem areas (top management, department, group, individual unit) (b) organization processes or organizational health (decision-making process, communication patterns and styles, relationships between interfacing groups, the management of conflict, the setting of goals and planning methods).

Who will diagnose?

People cannot be diagnosticians in systems in which they are full-fledged members due to overt or covert vested interests. Diagnosticians must maintain role of researcher (systematic, objective and result-oriented investigation) and must establish some type of liaison system between the researcher and the elements of the systems. The liaison may be an individual or a group. 

Internal researchers can work in parts of a larger system in which they have not been or currently are not members. But they cannot study their own groups and they generally have a great deal of difficulty with parts of the system in which they have recently been members.

Phases of organizational diagnosis


Primary objectives of entry are to determine which units of the system (individual, group and organization) will participate in the diagnosis and to determine whether the researcher and respondent can reach agreement about their respective roles during data collection and feedback. Researchers may experience anxiety related to potential acceptance or rejection by the respondent system. The more self-awareness and experience the researchers have, the less these feelings will interfere with their effectiveness during entry.

Data collection

The primary objectives of data collection are to gather valid information about the nature of the system systematically and to prepare an analysis of that data for delivery to respondents during feedback. Collection of data proceeds from less (unstructured observation) to more structured methods (qustionnaires) to produce more valid data. 

In unstructured observation, researchers will be concerned with the relevant documents offered by the respondent, newsletters, chairman reports, roaming around relevant selected places, interviewing individuals or group. He must decide how much emphasis to give to theoretical concepts for understanding the observational data. Researcher besides observation and theoretical concepts should pay attention to respondent’s own explanation of the data. Repeated unstructured observation, explanation of respondents and use of theory lead the researcher to develop hypothesis about the causal relationship of the specific events, relationships among the independent, dependent and moderating variables.

It is better to take a case history of the organization before observational data collection. The case history should cover the followings:

  1. Identification data: It includes organization name, location, type of organization, organization affiliation, size (financial condition, stockholders, employees). 
  2. Historical data: Cheap complaints, duration and possible determinants, short-range and long-range problems, major crisis of the organization (natural catastrophy, loss of key personnel, labour problems, financial emergencies, technological changes), product service history (change and development of organizational goals, sequence of development in product or service), organizational folklore. 
  3. Structural data: Organizational chart, formal job description, ecology of the organization (spatial distribution of individuals, activities), financial structure, personnel (size, various educational levels, average tenure, range or skills, absentee rate, turnover rate, accident rate), structure for handling personnel (recruitment, orientation, training, growth of the job, promotion, compensation, performance analysis), rules and regulations (medical, safety, retirement, recreation, other fringe benefits). 
  4. Organizational functioning: Organizational perceptions (alertness, accuracy and vividness), organizational knowledge (acquisition, use and dissemination of knowledge), organizational language, emotional atmosphere of the organization and organizational action. 
  5. Attitudes and relationship: Attitudes towards the task agents, relations to things and ideas, attitudes about self, inter-organizational relationships. 
  6. Analysis and conclusions: Appraisal of the effect of the environment on the organization, appraisal of the effect of the organization on the environment, reactions, appraisal of the organization, impairments and level of integration. 

Primary objective of feedback is to promote increased understanding of the client system by its members. Effective feedback design relates the content of the feedback to the process by which the analysis is delivered to the system. The process of feedback is the composition of feedback meetings (i.e., who is present with whom), the ordering of the meetings (i.e., which groups receive information first, which is second, etc.), the behavior of the system during feedback and the behavior of the researchers within and between feedback meetings. feedback is probably the period of maximum anxiety during the entire diagnosis. If the system could tolerate the anxiety, system could learn its self.

In sum, the methodology of organizational diagnosis calls for the researcher to be competent in the conventional use of social science tools ( observation, interviews, questionnaires and archives) ant to possess a sophisticated theory and the related behavioural skills to enter, collect and feedback information to complex multigroup systems. 


1. Improving organizational health and job satisfaction

A public sector plant interested to improve organizational health (adequate physical environmnt, organizational climate and relations with the task environment)and job satisfaction of managers, supervisors and staffs. Both organizational health and job satisfaction questionnaire administered to the random samples of three organizational hierarchies. Hierarchical multiple regression analysis shows managers gave more importance to organizational satisfaction and organizational awareness. To supervisors, autonomy in decision making, satisfactory relationship between organization and task environment, awareness of changes in task environment, and organizational need satisfaction were important for job satisfaction. To staffs, problem solving opportunity and good interpersonal trust were important for job satisfaction. The results were presented to the authority of the company. The authority of the plant discussed the results with the colleagues and took some measures.

2. Improving organizational health of the hospital
A government hospital is interested to improve present condition of its organizational health. Organizational health scale was administered to the doctors and nurses following random sampling procedure. Results show inadequacy in physical (inadequate machines and equipments, high level of noise), mental(poor interpersonal trust, inadequate awareness of safety rules and regulations, less autonomy in patient care, inadequate financial growth) and social health (poor satisfaction level of organization with its task agents) of the hospital. Hospital authority was suggested to (i) introduce quality circle for efficient housekeeping and for awareness of safety rules and regulations (ii) introduce sensitivity training programme for interpersonal conflict reduction (iii) introduce vendor development programme in order to collect quality equipment and tools from various suppliers. 

3. Improving organizational awareness:
A public sector plant is interested to improve present status of organizational awareness. Organizational awareness questionnaire was administered to the employees. Results show relatively poor awareness of organizational objectives, production process, safety rules. Suggestions were given related to (i) introduction of written job chart (ii) introduction of suggestion box system in which employees could give suggestion regarding the improvement of production process, controlling environmental pollution, safety programme etc. (iii) both way quality circle programme (iv) organizing safety dramma, safety poem and song writing and safety poster campaign.

Contact for more interaction

Invited to deliver lecture on the above topic by the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences of the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur, in March, 20, 2001

Free search engine submission and placement services!
Your first name:

Your URL:

How often do you visit my web site?
Every day
Once per week
Once per month
Once per year

Please add any comments you have below: