National Center for Organization Development
The VHA National Center for Organization Development (NCOD) research division includes a team of professionals (health research scientists, technicians, and pre-/post-doctoral trainees and fellows) trained in research methods in behavioral sciences, survey-based research methods, organizational development (OD), industrial and organizational psychology (I-O), health services, health administration, program evaluation, and other relevant areas. The overarching goal of NCOD research is to facilitate VA and VHA organizational functioning by applying our professional skills and tools (e.g., research and assessment methods, statistical techniques, conceptual understandings of organizational phenomena).
The NCOD research team primarily conducts management studies or applied studies that examine and document best practices in VA management and the employee workforce. Examples of those include: (a) determining whether clinical staff at a specific facility are overall less satisfied with their workplace than other occupational groups at that facility, and which particular aspects of satisfaction show statistically significant differences; (b) whether management behaviors (skills, performance) are associated with or influence employee attitudes (job satisfaction, civility, etc.); (c) whether particular organizational outcomes measured by the survey (e.g. intentions to quit one’s job) are systematically related to particular characteristics of the workforce or facility (e.g., tenure at VA, supervisory status, occupational rank, etc.); and others.
The NCOD research team also strives to establish and test components of an empirically derived conceptual model of VA functioning, to be used proactively and preventively for recognizing and addressing various intervention needs within our system. An example of this is to establish a set of systematic measures of an organizational outcome (e.g., HR hiring reform processes in VA facilities). Another example is linking performance measures to organizational outcomes, such as relating 360 performance feedback data from VA supervisors to employee survey data on workplace perceptions from the supervised workgroups with the purpose of identifying leadership performance behavior important to workforce development and organizational success. Yet another example is research connecting employee perceptions (civility, psychological safety) to organizational outcomes (patient care experiences, EEO complaints, sick leave usage, workforce productivity) to identify the impact of employee attitudes on VA key performance indicators and our Veteran client experiences.
The NCOD research team actively participates in the process of developing new survey instruments and improving the existing survey instruments designed to measure organizational characteristics of interest to the VA management. This work sometimes results in psychometric studies that document in detail the existing instrument properties (e.g. VA civility scale) or assess and establish properties of instruments in development (e.g. Team Assessments, Phases of Change Assessment, Servant Leadership 360, etc.).
In addition to conducting research, the NCOD research team handles (that is, manages, organizes, and cleans) the data from all the surveys conducted by NCOD as well as merges and matches NCOD data with supporting VA datasets (PAID, SHEP, HR Turnover/Onboard, EEO-CATS, VBA Dashboard, NCA Internment Marking, etc.) in order to expand our empirical understanding of VA’s organizational health. Finally, NCOD research also supports the dissemination of its survey data through Data Use Agreements (DUAs) to coordinate the data sharing process with interested researchers within VA.