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When infrastructure transition and work practice redesign collide

Danielle A. Tucker (Business School Imperial College, London, UK)
Jane Hendy (Healthcare Management and Policy, University of Surrey, Guildford, UK)
James Barlow (Business School, Imperial College, London, UK)

Journal of Organizational Change Management

ISSN: 0953-4814

Article publication date: 7 October 2014




As management innovations become more complex, infrastructure needs to change in order to accommodate new work practices. Different challenges are associated with work practice redesign and infrastructure change however; combining these presents a dual challenge and additional challenges associated with this interaction. The purpose of this paper is to ask: what are the challenges which arise from work practice redesign, infrastructure change and simultaneously attempting both in a single transformation?


The authors present a longitudinal study of three hospitals in three different countries (UK, USA and Canada) transforming both their infrastructure and work practices. Data consists of 155 ethnographic interviews complemented by 205 documents and 36 hours of observations collected over two phases for each case study.


This paper identifies that work practice redesign challenges the cognitive load of organizational members whilst infrastructure change challenges the project management and structure of the organization. Simultaneous transformation represents a disconnect between the two aspects of change resulting in a failure to understand the relationship between work and design.

Practical implications

These challenges suggest that organizations need to make a distinction between the two aspects of transformation and understand the unique tensions of simultaneously tackling these dual challenges. They must ensure that they have adequate skills and resources with which to build this distinction into their change planning.


This paper unpacks two different aspects of complex change and considers the neglected challenges associated with modern change management objectives.



This research was funded by the Engineering and Physical Science Research Council (EPSRC) as part of the Health and Care Infrastructure Research and Innovation Centre (HaCIRIC).


A. Tucker, D., Hendy, J. and Barlow, J. (2014), "When infrastructure transition and work practice redesign collide", Journal of Organizational Change Management, Vol. 27 No. 6, pp. 955-972.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2014, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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