Research in Organizational Change and Development: Volume 14


Table of contents

(11 chapters)

List of contributors

Pages vii-viii
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Pages ix-xiv
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A new categorization scheme for the organizational change literature is proposed to foster theory development in the field. The scheme classifies the field into four main areas of organizational change research — type, readiness, process and inertia — and elevates time to the forefront of research. Building off the categorization scheme, the Organizational Change Response Model is presented, which links the type and readiness literatures. To provide grounding to the assertions made and to develop a new working definition of organizational change, the study of change in the fields of biology, social psychology, environmental science and physics are briefly reviewed. Learnings from the other disciplines are incorporated in the model, and implications for future theory building and research in organizational development and change are presented.

Recent democratic trends in Mexico as well as the opening of new economic markets and free trade relationships have made the management of change a major issue in Mexico. Most Mexican organizations need to transform their structures and processes, and to develop management and human resources in order to compete in the global marketplace. In addition, the need for change in Mexico includes such basic issues as uplifting whole classes of people out of poverty so that they can become productive members of society. We argue that change can be produced and facilitated through highly participative, egalitarian, and intensive large-group interventions. Even though existing cultural research might suggest that these approaches are inconsistent with the cultural orientation assumed to be predominant in most Mexican organizations, we offer two case studies employing whole-systems change approaches that provide evidence suggesting quite the opposite: large-scale and highly participative change interventions are very appropriate to facilitate change in Mexican society today.

Existing research has identified a number of drivers of organizational change, such as leadership, participation, communication, and training. It has typically explored the impact of a single change driver, such as leadership, in a given organizational change, but has not sufficiently explored the relative effect of multiple drivers or their relationship to individual adoption of change initiatives within large-scale organizational change. In this paper we look at the relative impact of four change drivers in a planned organizational change in a large U.S. bank. We used a multi-method research approach, involving survey, interview, and case data, to examine the relative effect of leadership, participation, training, and communication as change drivers and to understand their relationship to individuals' adoption of the change initiatives. Our results show statistically significant differences in the perceived average significance of change drivers to individual adoption of change initiatives and statistically significant differences in their association with individual adoption of change. We discuss our results in terms of contextual vs. individual change drivers, the relationship between change drivers and the stages of change, and the characteristics of change drivers. We conclude with a discussion of directions for future research and change practice.

An emphasis on structure that overlooks process can be found in many research efforts directed toward managers and management. Overlooked process questions include what produced a structure, how to use a structure, and how to evolve or transform a structure to meet new circumstances and conditions. One way to introduce these questions is to focus research on the “structure-process duality”. Exploring the duality allows the enfolded order in process to emerge and associates outcomes with the processes used in various aspects of the management of organizations. Such an approach also connects with emergent ideas in various fields that have been drawn to structure-process dualities. Modes of study for process are proposed and distinguished from the standards applied to process research. These arguments are used to show how research into the structure-process duality can point to a new action theory that captures issues of crucial interest to management, such as transformational leadership.

The study and successful application of organizational change strategies is assuming an increasingly timely relevance in this era of rapid change and increased pressures for competitiveness. Organizational change, whether focused on people, structure, processes, or technology, is inextricably linked with culture change. Much of the practitioner-oriented literature on organizational change treats culture as a tool that can be controlled, manipulated, and integrated by a senior management team and consultants. This paper draws upon lessons learned from cultural anthropology and organizational theory and offers a more complex view that takes into account the strength of organizational subcultures. A framework is presented for creating lasting organizational change that incorporates an appreciation for chaos theory. Secondly, the underlying organizational dynamics that defeat planned change efforts are examined through the unique perspective of Grendel's mother (from the Old English prose poem, “Beowulf”). Grendel's mother provides a provocative image to heighten awareness of the dynamics of organizational life that defeat change efforts. The role of the change agent is explored as Beowulf with a ‘realpolitik’ perspective. Two examples from organization development fieldwork (a failed effort and a successful change program) illustrate the power of chaos theory, the force of Grendel's mother, and the role of Beowulf in planned change programs. By combining theory and practice, this paper seeks to facilitate the dialogue between academics and practitioners about creating lasting organizational change.

In this chapter, we propose a shared schema approach to model a change of organizational culture. The connection between shared schemas and organizational culture is first examined, and the development of shared schemas is then explored. Building on previous work utilizing a cognitive approach to organizational culture, we suggest that organizational culture can be understood as organizational members' shared schemas, so culture change can be understood by examining members' cognitions about an organizational culture change, with the degree of sharedness being an important descriptor. Data from two samples supported propositions that culture change schemas are: (1) different between organizational members who identify strongly with an organization and those who do not; and (2) different between current organizational members and those who have left the organization. These results support the viability of measuring organizational culture change from a cognitive perspective and suggest implications for managing the process of culture change.

This paper is a critique of some basic assumptions in the debate about the learning organization. It develops a practice-oriented approach of learning and discusses how institutional contextual differences influence the direction and the outcome of the learning process. The study presented here builds an understanding of organizational learning through the use of multiple case studies. The analysis is based on field research conducted within East German companies in the context of social and economic transformation. It is assumed that postsocialist societal transformation as an entity does not directly influence how and why certain modes of organizational learning emerged. Consequently, the macro perspective of institutional change has to be related to the actual practice of organizational learning in a specific social context. The comparative discussion of three distinct case studies shows how actors and groups of actors socially construct the opportunities and constraints that they experience in the process of organizational learning, within a context of macro-level structures previously enacted. Thus, it can be concluded that the institutional embeddedness of organizations influences the selection and development of certain learning goals and recipes; influences whether the learning process is more focused internally or externally; and, related to this latter point, whether more exploitative or explanatory learning approaches emerge.

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Measures of change are used for two main purposes in OD: (a) estimating the amount of change that occurred from an OD intervention (e.g. mean differences); and/or (b) assessing relationships between two or more variables as part of hypothesis testing (e.g. correlations). In this study we primarily focus on the hypothesis testing purpose for measuring change, although we will discuss the implications for estimating the amount of change.

We focus on two alternative measures of the change in job satisfaction over time: (a) Longitudinal Change; and (b) Remembered Change. These two measures of change are used as predictors of organizational commitment and the number of labor grievances filed by individuals. Our results show that combining both measures of job satisfaction change together explains more variance than either measure alone. We conclude by discussing the meaning of change and the implications of these results for both OD practice and research.

About the authors

Pages 311-315
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Publication date
Book series
Research in Organizational Change and Development
Series copyright holder
Emerald Publishing Limited
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