THE INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATION
DEVELOPMENT CODE OF ETHICS
purpose of The Organization Development Institute in developing
an International O. D. Code of Ethics are threefold: to
increase professional and ethical consciousness among O. D.
professionals and their sense of ethical responsibility; to
guide O. D. professionals in making more informed ethical choices;
and to help the O. D. profession itself function at the fullness
of its potential.
We recognize that for us to exist as a profession,
a substantial consensus is necessary among the members of our
profession about what we profess, particularly our values and
ethics. This statement represents a step toward such a consensus.
Recognizing that a profession cannot be
a profession unless it has a Code of Ethics, we decided in 1980
to write an International Code of Ethics, not just for The O.
D. Institute, but for the entire field of O. D. Working with
people from all over the world, Dr. Bill Gellermann, RODC, has
put together an International Code of Ethics for O. D. people.
The first draft of an O. D. Code Ethics (worldwide) was written
by Dr. Donald Cole, RODC, in the spring of 1981. It was published
in the O.D. Institute´s monthly newsletter “Organizations and
Change”, and a revised version was published in the 1982 edition
of “The International Registry of O. D. Professionals”. In the
fall of 1981 Dr. Bill Gellerman, RODC, accepted the Chairmanship
of a Committee to write a Code of Ethics for the O. D. profession
worldwide. With assistance from The O. D. Institute and others
he has been most active in searching the world of objections
to the most current revision and then making revisions which
would resolve those objections. The International O. D. Code
of Ethics has been published in Polish, German, Spanish, Russian
and Hungarian. Contributions have come from Belgium, Canada,
France, Germany, Great Britain, Hungary, India, Israel, Japan,
The Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Saudi Arabia, South Africa,
Spain, the United States of America and Yugoslavia. Most of
the major O. D. organizations in the world have agreed that
it would be useful to have a commonly accepted international
Code of Ethics for all O. D. Professionals and have endorsed
this process for developing one. In 1984 Dr. Bill Gellermann,
RODC, was awarded The O. D. Institute´s Outstanding O.D. Consultant
of the Year Award for his work in developing an O. D. Code of
Ethics that is gradually being accepted worldwide. A currently
revised version of The O. D. Code of Ethics is printed on the
Values of O. D. Professionals
As an O. D. professional, I acknowledge
the fundamental importance of the following values both for
myself and my profession:
1) quality of life – people being
satisfied with their whole life experience;
2) health, human potential, empowerment,
growth and excellence – people being healthy, aware of the fullness
of their potential, recognizing their power to bring that potential
into being, growing into it, living it, and, generally, doing
the best they can with it, individually and collectively;
3) freedom and responsibility –
people being free and responsible in choosing how they will
live their lives;
4) justice – people living lives
whose results are fair and right for everyone;
5) dignity, integrity, worth and
fundamental rights of individuals, organizations, communities,
societies, and other human systems;
6) all-win attitudes and cooperation
– people caring about one another and about working together
to achieve results that work for everyone, individually and
7) authenticity and openness in
8) effectiveness, efficiency and
alignment – people achieving the maximum of desired results,
at minimum cost, in ways that coordinate their individual energies
and purposes with those of the system-as-a-whole, the subsystems
of which they are parts, and the larger system of which their
system is a part;
9) holistic, systemic view and stakeholder
orientation – understanding human behavior from the perspective
of whole system(s) that influence and are influenced by
that behavior; recognizing the interests that different people
have in the system´s results and valuing those interests fairly
10) wide participation in system affairs, confrontation
of issues leading to effective problem solving, and democratic
Ethical Guidelines for O. D. Professionals
As an O. D. Professional,
I commit myself to supporting and acting in accordance with
the following ethical guidelines :
Responsibility to Self
Act with integrity;
be authentic and true to myself.
for self-knowledge and personal growth.
personal needs and desires and, when they conflict with other
responsibilities, seek all-win resolutions of those conflicts.
Assert my own
economic and financial interests in ways that are fair and equitable
to me as well as to my Clients and their stakeholders.
Responsibility for Professional Development and Competence
for the consequences of my acts and make reasonable efforts
to ensure that my services are properly used; terminate my services
if they are not properly used and do what I can to see that
any abuses are corrected.
Strive to achieve
and maintain a professional level of competence for both myself
and my profession by developing the full range of my own competence
and by establishing collegial and cooperative relations with
other O. D. professionals.
own personal needs and desires and deal with them responsibly
in the performance of my professional roles.
the limits of my competence, culture, and experience in providing
services and using techniques.
cultures different from my own only with consultation from people
native to or knowledgeable about those specific cultures.
Responsibility to Clients and Significant Others
Serve the long-term
well-being, interests, and development of the Client system
and all its stakeholders, even when the work being done has
a short-term focus.
professional activity, program or relationship in ways that
are honest, responsible, and appropriately open.
agreement on a contract covering services and remuneration.
Deal with conflicts
constructively and avoid conflicts of interest as much as possible.
Define and protect
the confidentiality of my Client-professional relationships.
statements of all kinds accurately, including promotion and
advertising, and give service as advertised.
Responsibility to the Profession
continuing professional development for myself, other
practitioners, and the profession.
sharing of O. D. knowledge and skill.
Work with other
O. D. professionals in ways that exemplary what our profession
says we stand for.
for ethical practice by individuals and organizations engaged
in O. D. activities and, in case of questionable practice, use
appropriate channels for dealing with it.
Act in ways
that bring credit to the O. D. profession and with due regard
for colleagues in other professions.
Act with sensitivity
to the fact that my recommendations and actions may alter the
lives and well-being of people within my Client systems and
the larger systems of which they are subsystems.
Act with awareness
of the cultural filters which affect my view of the world, respect
cultures different from my own, and be sensitive to cross-cultural
and multi-cultural differences and their implications.
and serve the well-being of all life on Earth.
accepting this Statement as a Guide for my behavior involves
holding myself to a standard that may be more exacting than
the laws of any countries in which I practice, the guidelines
of any professional associations to which I belong, or the expectations
of any of my Clients.
NOTES : The process which
produced this Statement (currently in its 22nd version)
was begun in 1981. It has been supported by most O. D. oriented
professional organizations, associations, and networks in the
United States of America. It was also supported unanimously
by the participants at the 1984 O. D. World Congress in Southampton,
England. To date, more than 200 people from more than 15 countries
have participated in the process (Note : The endorsements are
of the process and not the statement.) The process has included
drafting a version, sending it out with a request for comments
and suggestion, redrafting based on the responses, sending it
out again and so on. Our aim has been to use the process to
establish a substantial consensus including acknowledgement
of the differences among us.
By providing a common reference
for O. D. professionals throughout the world, we seek to enhance
our sense of identity as a global professional community. Because
this statement was initially developed within the USA, adapting
it to other cultures is necessary.
Editor´s Note: A more complete
discussion of Organization Development values and ethics can
be found in :
Gellermann, William, Frankel,
Mark S. & Landenson, Robert F., “Values and Ethics in Organization
and Human Systems Development”, Jossey-Bass, 1990.
Frankel, Mark S., “Values
and Ethics in Organization and Human Systems Development – An
Annotated Bibliography”, AAAS Publication, October, 1987.
White, Louis P. & Wooten,
Kevin C., “Professional Ethics and Practice in Organization
Development” New York, Praeger Publishers, 1986.
And also on the world wide
web at : http://www.odnet.org/credo.html