Power and strategic change in a multinational industrial corporation

Kari Kerttula (School of Business and Economics, University of Jyväskylä, Jyväskylä, Finland)
Tuomo Takala (School of Business and Economics, University of Jyväskylä, Jyväskylä, Finland)

Leadership & Organization Development Journal

ISSN: 0143-7739

Publication date: 4 May 2012



The aim of the study was to analyze the use of power in a strategic change process within a large forest industry company. The organization in question had a total of 7,700 employees, 6‐8 organizational levels, over 30 production units and a widespread international sales network. The study highlighted the organization's internal narration as an important element in the use of power. It started in conjunction with the appointment of the new management group and continued throughout the two‐year monitoring period, so that gradually all organizational layers were involved in interpreting their roles and positions in the new structure.


The empirical data were collected during a period of more than two years through participatory observation and the change narrative was made using the change report method. The use of power was observed from the perspective of the management group. The researcher had a dual role; he served both as a researcher and a member of the management group.


The first conclusion revealed that the change did not represent a separate process that was taking place outside the normal, established functioning and management process of the organization. The second conclusion was that implementing a transformative change in a large organization is a multi‐stage and challenging learning process, both for the change makers as well as for other members of the organization. The third conclusion was that there were no shortcuts to change. It took place through the thinking and actions of the people starting from the understanding of the measures required for the change.

Research limitations/implications

There are three limitations to the study. First, its findings are based on the viewpoint of the new management group. Second, the role of the researcher and the episodic progress narrative edited by himself defined the change process as a five‐phased process. Third, and closely linked to the previous limitation, the possible narrowness of the researcher in his thinking is also a potential limitation.

Practical implications

The results of the study could pave the way to a more realistic understanding of power and change in large multinational companies.


This article is a genuine research paper with profound fieldwork. It broadens viewpoints considering power, change and the role of top management in a large and global Finnish forest industry corporation.



Kerttula, K. and Takala, T. (2012), "Power and strategic change in a multinational industrial corporation", Leadership & Organization Development Journal, Vol. 33 No. 3, pp. 233-254. https://doi.org/10.1108/01437731211216452

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