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Changing the nature of organizational change

Deborah Kirby (Imaginal Wisdom, Park City, Utah, USA)

Strategic HR Review

ISSN: 1475-4398

Article publication date: 26 July 2019

Issue publication date: 21 August 2019




Although organizational change management has become a permanent practice, failure thrives at a rate of 50 per cent to 75 per cent and has done so for nearly 40 years. Executives and consultants continue to plow the same path of “change,” sowing the same seeds, yet somehow expecting a different crop to grow; it is not for a lack of good intention or sincere effort to improve the organization. This paper is meant to challenge and inspire researchers, consultants and particularly organizational leaders and members toward liberating themselves from fixed ways of thinking to reimagine change as natural and ongoing rather than episodic – essential in an era of constant flux.


A critical analysis of wide-ranging literature related to the genesis of the organization, organization theory, culture, metaphor and change revealed four unfavorable conditions, making attempts at sustainable change nearly impossible.


An organization’s unconscious and habitual thought-action patterns considerably contribute to creating four unfavorable conditions for change. Understanding this context is essential before initiating change efforts. Reorienting change from an analytical to a relational paradigm and disrupting linear, prescriptive thinking makes way for emergent, cooperative and inclusive efforts to induce sustainable, transformational change.


This research sheds a different light on what makes sustainable organizational change elusive and offers strategic human resource managers a new perspective on the nature of change.



Kirby, D. (2019), "Changing the nature of organizational change", Strategic HR Review, Vol. 18 No. 4, pp. 155-160.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2019, Emerald Publishing Limited

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