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Champions of Change and Organizational Development: A Return to Schön and Typology for Future Research and Practice

Research in Organizational Change and Development

ISBN: 978-1-78756-352-0, eISBN: 978-1-78756-351-3

Publication date: 10 August 2018


Contemporary organizations are facing an operating environment characterized by volatile, uncertain, complex, ambiguous, and “permanent whitewater.” To sustain high performance in this context, organizations must be able to change and develop as efficiently and effectively as possible. Within organizations, there are actors who catalyze and advance change in this manner; these actors are known as “champions.” Yet the scholar who wishes to conduct research concerning champions of change and organizational development is likely to be met by a highly fragmented literature. Varying notions of champions are scattered throughout extant research, where authors of articles cite different sources when conceptualizing champions; often superficially. Furthermore, many types of highly specific and nuanced non-generalizable champions have proliferated, making it difficult for practitioners and researchers to discover useful findings on how to go about making meaningful changes in their context. The purpose of this study was to address these problems for practitioners and researchers by engendering thoroughness, clarity, and coherence within champion scholarship. This was done by conducting the first comprehensive, critical yet insightful review of the champion literature within the organizational sciences using content analysis to re-conceptualize champions and develop a meaningful typology from which the field can be advanced. The chapter first suggests a return to Schön (1963) as the basis from which to conceptualize champions and, second, offers a typology consisting of 10 meta-champions of organizational change and development – Collaboration, Human Rights, Innovation, Product, Project, Service, Strategic, Sustainability, Technology, and Venture Champions – from which change practice and future research can benefit.



Thakhathi, A. (2018), "Champions of Change and Organizational Development: A Return to Schön and Typology for Future Research and Practice", Research in Organizational Change and Development (Research in Organizational Change and Development, Vol. 26), Emerald Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 265-306.



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