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The concept of organizational change capacity

Richard Soparnot (ESCEM School of Business and Management, Tours, France)

Journal of Organizational Change Management

ISSN: 0953-4814

Article publication date: 30 August 2011




Change implementation presents a major challenge to managers. However, theoretical and empirical works waiver between the change management action and the management of the change/initial conditions. These opposing views reflect the theoretical instability, which characterizes work on organizational change. Faced with this theoretical mosaic, the question of knowing what the change capacity is, is fundamental. The purpose of this paper is to propose a framework for change capacity and to identify its dimensions and components.


To deal with this stake, the author conducted a single case study and observed an organization that had acquired the status of a company with change capacity. The Renault SA group makes for an interesting case. Renault, a 100‐year‐old company, is considered to be capable of undergoing change, of following its environment and even of shaping its own environment.


The study leads to the identification of three dimensions of the change capacity. These are the context, process and learning dimensions. The context dimension consists of resources that facilitate the change process. The process dimension incorporates principles of implementing change. Finally, the learning dimension tackles the introspective capacity of the organization.


If the literature on change capacity focuses more on the outcome of the capability than on the capability itself, the study has enabled the proposing of a framework for change capacity and to identify its dimensions and components. This framework is interesting in two respects. First, it shows that change capacity is as much linked to its management as it is dependent on the initial conditions. Second, it provides direction towards a strategic management of change.



Soparnot, R. (2011), "The concept of organizational change capacity", Journal of Organizational Change Management, Vol. 24 No. 5, pp. 640-661.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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