Conversations and the epidemiology of change

Research in Organizational Change and Development

ISBN: 978-0-76230-627-5, eISBN: 978-1-84950-041-8

ISSN: 0897-3016

Publication date: 3 February 2000


In the network of conversations that constitute the realities called organizations, the focus and unit of work in producing and managing change is conversation. This means that change agents work with, through, and on conversations to generate, sustain, and complete new conversations in order to bring about an altered network of conversations that results in the accomplishment of specific commitments. This chapter proposes that bringing about this alteration is an infective process in which change agents “infect” organizations with new conversations. Drawing on the field of epidemiology, it explores the nature of that infective process and the roles infective agents, susceptible hosts, and environmental factors play in it. These factors are then put into a conversational context and their implications for organizational change explored.


Ford, J. (2000), "Conversations and the epidemiology of change", Research in Organizational Change and Development (Research in Organizational Change and Development, Vol. 12), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 1-39.

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Copyright © 1999, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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