The implementation of organizational changes during the transition in China and Estonia

Ruth Alas (Management Department, Estonian Business School, Tallinn, Estonia)
Wei Sun (Management Department, Estonian Business School, Tallinn, Estonia)
Junhong Gao (Management Department, Estonian Business School, Tallinn, Estonia)

Baltic Journal of Management

ISSN: 1746-5265

Publication date: 6 January 2012



The purpose of this paper is to investigate how a country's national culture and institutional framework influence employees' reactions to changes in organizations and the process of implementation of changes.


The authors conducted interviews with members of top management teams in 160 companies in several large cities in the northern part of China: Beijing, Tianjin, Jinan and Zibo, and in 137 Estonian companies. In both countries, the companies involved represented various industries and sectors, ranging from manufacturing and technology, banking and insurance organizations, to those in energy and education industries. The interviews included open‐ended questions about the process of implementing organizational change and reactions to changes.


Results of interviews with managers indicate the similarities in employees' reactions to changes and in management of change process between the two countries stem from their socialist past. The different approaches to implementing change can be attributed to the differences in democracy and different cultural values.

Research limitations/implications

Future research could involve the employees to provide more insights to the resistance to changes. Other scholars' cultural dimensions could be referred to, such as Trompenaars and Hofstede, in future studies. In order to draw broader conclusions it is necessary to explore alternative explanations and conduct further empirical research in other countries.

Practical implications

The results of this comparison obtained from studying Estonian and Chinese organizations could be useful for foreign investors, managers and owners of companies in two countries in transition: China and Estonia.


Scholars of organizational change have tended to have their focus restricted to the normal socio‐economic context. Studying and comparing organizational changes in transition economies increases knowledge base about change management.



Alas, R., Sun, W. and Gao, J. (2012), "The implementation of organizational changes during the transition in China and Estonia", Baltic Journal of Management, Vol. 7 No. 1, pp. 86-102.

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