Clarifying Organizational Generativity: A Future Forming Perspective for OD Practitioners and Researchers

Cees Hoogendijk*, Jeff Hicks, Celeste P.M. Wilderom

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


As the catastrophic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic have made clear, both the practice and research of organizational development (OD) urgently need alternative pathways to the future. Organizational generativity (OG) offers one such promising alternative. While much of OD practice and research are focused on enabling organizations to better prepare for an unknown future, OG accommodates new ways for organizations to proactively create their own future. As a nascent field of inquiry, however, research on OG is underdeveloped and characterized by a lack of clarity. Therefore, the purpose of this paper is to clarify the construct of organizational generativity to be more actionable by OD practitioners, researchers, and managers alike. Using grounded theory, we review and critique the literature on generativity, from the “ancestral” writers in psychology to current OD authors. Through successive rounds of inquiry, we reveal the syntax, the semantics, and the inherent processual nature of organizational generativity. We then derive a conceptual framework describing seven manifestations of generative organizational processes: relational, transformational, disruptive, future-focused, idea-giving, actionable, and procreative. Finally, we discuss implications for OD practice and opportunities for future research.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)38-59
Number of pages22
JournalOrganization Development Journal
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2023


  • generative
  • generative OD practices
  • generative process
  • generativity
  • OD
  • organization development
  • organizational generativity
  • n/a OA procedure


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