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A systems model of organizational change

Development and Learning in Organizations

ISSN: 1477-7282

Article publication date: 9 December 2020

Issue publication date: 6 July 2021

1368

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this study is to develop a meta-model for organisational change based on a literature review across organisational theories, specific theories about organisational change and systems theories related to theories of organisational change.

Design/methodology/approach

The research is based on an extensive literature review for the period 1972–2012 which covers organisational theories, systems theories relating to organisational change theories, and specific theories of organisational change. It used the Social Sciences Citation Index using as search items change, transformation, organization[al] model, theory, systems, and combinations of these terms. The research is based on an extensive literature review for the period 1972–2012 which covers organisational theories, systems theories relating to organisational change theories, and specific theories of organisational change. It used the Social Sciences Citation Index using as search items change, transformation, organization[al] model, theory, systems, and combinations of these terms.

Findings

The meta-model is constructed as a complex systems model including the four discourses and their process elements. As each discourse provides specific and different insights into how organisational change occurs, we can widen our field of view on change by switching between different discourses. This also allows a holistic rather than the reductionist methods of other approaches.

Practical implications

The meta-model makes it possible to look at organisational change from a variety of angles. Structural, cultural, behavioral and strategic change can be looked at from four different dimensions. It allows for insights from the different discourses to be drawn upon, as each of which have their merits but also their own limitations. By going beyond the normative discourse, it provides for a model of organisational change that better reflects the complexity of change in real life settings and captures the complexity of the research literature.

Originality/value

The paper seeks to demonstrate that a systems model of change is better able to capture the complex nature of change than are linear models. Synthesizing this literature has been undertaken previously but this has usually been done with linear models of change which have produced limited results.

Keywords

Citation

(2021), "A systems model of organizational change", Development and Learning in Organizations, Vol. 35 No. 4, pp. 36-38. https://doi.org/10.1108/DLO-09-2020-0193

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2020, Emerald Publishing Limited

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