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A Study of Organisational Adaptation

Peter Carroll and Aynsley Kellow

The book reveals, for the first time, the origins, growth and complex role of the OECD as it celebrates its fiftieth anniversary, showing how it has adapted – for the most part successfully – to the changing needs of its members, both large and small.
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Chapter 14: Conclusion: An Evolving OECD

Peter Carroll and Aynsley Kellow


The historical approach adopted for much of this book means that we have been able partly to describe and understand how an important international organisation has changed over time. In turn, this has helped us to reduce, if not altogether to avoid, the all too frequent tendency to assess specific issues, incidents and developments in its history as new, or different, or as major turning points when, in historical perspective, they turned out to be continuing trends and recurring issues and much less often significant, new examples of change. It further helped us to minimise the dangers of misinterpretation that could have resulted from treating the views of the many helpful members of the OECD whom we interviewed as necessarily accurate and historically informed. It also made us aware of a continuing, much underestimated and growing problem with many international organisations, that is, their increasingly limited organisational memory. While the lack of a full and accurate organisational memory, in the shape of its records and staff, does not necessarily mean that an organisation is condemned to repeat the mistakes of the past, it surely makes it more likely. In terms of its staff the problem is that, increasingly, its middle-ranking and senior staff serve only short terms with the OECD, necessarily focusing on current issues and tasks, with little or no time to examine other than current and recent records for the lessons they might contain. In this concluding chapter we attempt to bring together our findings in relation to...

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