• Call for Papers

    Tackling the Hard Problems in Society: Using Organization Development to Engage Social Action, Social Change, and Social Justice

    Anton Shufutinsky1,2,6 and David M. Boje1,2,4,5,6, Guest Editors

    Over the course of the mid- to late twentieth century, the field of organization development progressed in parallel to and tandem with the civil rights movement, the further development of labor unions, regulatory advances for workplace safety, environmental protection, workplace diversity, progression of leadership, among many other movements for the betterment of society and humanity.  

    Today, our world is riddled with major problems of humanity, including social injustices and inequities related to employment, environmental justice, access to healthcare, occupational health and safety, representation and voting, education, information, financial institutions, and functions and dynamics of criminal justice systems, among others. In an era partially defined by pandemics, the global society is plagued with discrimination, poverty, pollution, greed, toxic partisanship, and an affinity toward group-think and even violence rather than research, discourse, dialogue, and productive conflict negotiation.

    OD is a field of practice grounded in the behavioral, social, and basic sciences that engages human systems in organizations and communities to develop system-wide capacity, effectiveness, and well-being (Shufutinsky et al., 2020).  This includes doing the work to transform organizations, revitalize communities, develop human potential, and increase system-wide well-being, and, as a humanistic applied behavioral science, we must stay true to these foundations.

    However, despite this definition of OD, and the recognition of these challenges in the social, behavioral, and organizational sciences, there appears to be a vacuum of research undertaken and published in the elite management and organizational science journals (Harley & Fleming, 2021) regarding these grand challenges and major problems facing today’s societies.


    The International Society for Organization Development and Change (ISODC), along with many in its membership, has remained on the precipice of the efforts and initiatives dedicated to promoting organizational, community, and global environments that advance social equity and justice, foster oppression-free communities and organizations, and promote healthy workplaces, teams, groups, and individuals.  

    Approximately eight decades have passed since Kurt Lewin, often called a forefather of OD, began to examine and deconstruct the social dynamics related to discrimination in organizations and in society as a whole.  It has likewise been decades since the establishment of the OD Institute and the launch of the Organization Development Journal, a publication focused on providing quality scholarly and scholar-practitioner OD knowledge that could be leveraged for improvement of workplaces and other organizations.  These principles continue to stand today, in ISODC, with strong commitment not only to business enterprises but to social action and social change that advances justice for people, communities, and humanity.

    The ISODC calls for a returned focus in ODC practice, research, and pedagogy, including journal publication, to the Lewinian commitment to tackling these pressing social problems in society.  The Organization Development Journalcontinues to be committed to positively impacting society, and it is therefore fitting for ODJ to house a current special issue dedicated to work in social action, social change, and social justice.

    This is a Call for Papers for a special issue of the Organization Development Journal focused on using organization development to engage social action, social change, and social justice for addressing complex, unjust, and difficult problems in society.   

    The journal is looking for research, case study, and theoretical papers from scholars, practitioners, and scholar-practitioners working or thinking about the aforementioned complex societal problems, such as the topics provided as examples below.  Submissions are not limited to these examples.

  • The effects of institutional racism on workplace well-being
  • The living stories of environmental injustice in Communities of Color
  • Improving equity and inclusion in diverse organizations
  • What do we know about systems that can help us change them to be more inclusive?
  • The lived experiences of Black Men who have been exposed to police brutality
  • Improve Wounded Warrior and veteran re-integration into society and the workplace
  • Identifying and archetyping “Corporate x-Washing” practices passing as corporate social responsibility programs
  • Transforming environmental sustainability programs
  • Addressing the effects of healthcare inequity in the Era of COVID-19 
  • Deconstruction and characterization of transgenerational refugee trauma
  • Addressing the discriminatory phenomena of Whataboutism, All Lives Mattering, & social initiative hijacking
  • Facilitating productive dialogue in a time of media-driven social contagion
  • For authors submitting research papers, qualitative, quantitative, mixed-methods, and intervention research papers will be considered for publication.

To be considered for publication in this special issue, manuscripts should be submitted to Anton Shufutinsky (as4363@cabrini.edu) and David Boje (davidboje@gmail.com) by September 10, 2021. Please contact either Anton Shufutinsky (as4363@cabrini.edu) or David Boje (davidboje@gmail.com) with questions regarding the suitability of papers for this special issue. 

Manuscripts should be prepared according to the guidelines for The Organization Development Journal.  Information for manuscript preparation is located under Author Guidelines in the OD Journal drop-down menu on the ISODC website at www.isodc.org. All papers that satisfy initial editorial screening will be reviewed using the conventional ISODC double-blind review process. This special issue of ODJ will be published in February, 2022.

Guest Editor Affiliations:

1International Society for Organization Development & Change

2School of Business, Arts, & Media, Cabrini University

3Institute of Interdisciplinary Leadership Education and Development (I-ILEAD)

4True Storytelling Institute

5Aalborg University, Denmark

6New Mexico State University


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