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A drifting phenomenon: organizational change failure in a becoming view

Signe Bruskin (Department of Organization, Copenhagen Business School, Frederiksberg, Denmark)

Journal of Organizational Change Management

ISSN: 0953-4814

Article publication date: 9 October 2019




The purpose of this paper is to study the phenomenon of organizational change failure through an emic approach. Grounded in empirical examples, the paper unfolds why the phenomenon seems to be missing from the literature of the becoming view (e.g. Tsoukas and Chia, 2002).


Inspired by the methodological strategy of “studying through,” organizational changes are followed through space and time within the setting of a Nordic bank, from where the empirical data have been collected via longitudinal study. The empirical data are generated through a combination of methods: shadowing, interviews, in situ observations and desk research in order to capture the ever-changing phenomenon of organizational change.


The paper finds that organizational changes drift away, either by slipping into the everyday practices of the organization, or by drifting away in time when history is reinterpreted. The paper concludes that organizational change failures suffer the same fate as organizational changes more generally and drift away in space and time.


The paper contributes to the becoming view by illustrating how methodologically an ever-changing phenomenon such as organizational change can be studied. Further, it contributes to the field of organizational change failure by unpacking the fate of organizational change failure when change is natural and slippery in nature. The paper includes reflections on what the consequences might be for praxis.



Bruskin, S. (2019), "A drifting phenomenon: organizational change failure in a becoming view", Journal of Organizational Change Management, Vol. 32 No. 6, pp. 605-620.



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