Research in Organizational Change and Development: Volume 16


Table of contents

(13 chapters)


Pages vii-xi
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Volume 16 of Research in Organizational Change and Development highlights several emerging trends in our field and in the world within which our research takes place. The papers that make up this volume hit on some familiar topics, all related to the challenge of invoking, supporting, or measuring organizational change but they also go farther than that. In Volume 16, we see evidence that the issues of concern to leaders and researchers are becoming increasingly global in nature. In order to understand these issues, we must pay attention to cultural differences, and the language that is used during change interventions to set expectations and deal with the myriad issues that threaten to undermine the success of the effort. In this volume too we see that different types of organizations approach change in ways that reflect their unique cultures and contexts. Rather than a one size fits all approach, authors of papers in this volume call for an understanding of these differences among organizational types and their implications for how we approach organizational change. The role of the leader in change is also examined in several papers here. We have known for a long time that leadership is essential during change, but these papers give us a fresh look at what it is that leaders do and say that affects the outcomes achieved. Finally, as always, we see included in Volume 16 some excellent contributions to methodology and research on the topic of change. Each of the papers in Volume 16 is well-crafted, thoughtful and very much worth the time to read.

List of Contributors

Pages xiii-xiv
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In this paper, we offer a model of how leaders and managers can create energy for change by influencing patterns of conversation across the organization. We develop the model by linking social constructionist thought with theory from the field of positive psychology. We propose that effective leaders work with others to co-author persuasive narratives of change that generate energy by providing people (including themselves) with a sense of autonomy, competence, and relatedness. Energy is expressed in the form of support, time, money, and resources, which contribute to the success of the work. Continuous attention to crafting persuasive narratives in a collaborative way creates upward spirals of energy, and increases the probability of successful change over time. We illustrate these ideas with a case study of a successful IT change initiative in a Fortune 100 insurance company, and conclude by discussing implications for research and practice.

Two major approaches to organizational transformation (OT) are identified as “Drive” and “Grow” theories. Each has a serious flaw but they can be combined to form a stronger approach. However, managing the hybrid presents special challenges, including an acceptance of paradox. Five case studies are used to gain insight into OT at a process level, into the cross-conflicts and environmental reactions, including “the organizational immune reaction”. Two propositions are formulated: the bi-focal formula (regarding the agreement between an OT initiative and its host organizational unit) and the partnership proposition (regarding shared leadership of OT initiatives).

Much of the literature in organizational change has taken a single approach to explain employee expectation formation regarding the outcomes of a change event. A conceptual model is developed to integrate two existing streams of research (the information effects approach and the social effects approach) and to develop a comprehensive picture of outcome expectation formation. We propose that information and social effects function simultaneously to shape an employee's outcome expectations. The strength and content consistency of information and social effects jointly determine what people expect regarding change outcomes and how confident they feel about those expectations. Implications are discussed in terms of setting the boundaries for information and social effects as well as future research directions.

This study explores the nature and role of CEO discourse in mergers and acquisitions (M&A), and especially during the highly complex post-merger integration process. Abstraction from two extensive empirical data sources suggests that executive discourse in M&A can be seen as fitting a taxonomy involving four categories: dubbed the cartel, aesthetic, videogame and holistic communicator. It is furthermore purported that executive sense-making through discourse may need to be monitored around an ideal and permanently oscillating distance between the executive promise and the many different realities that stakeholders experience in the post-merger process: too little distance prevents change from happening, too much distance erodes the belief in the promised possibilities. This distance, named the promise–realities gap, is different for each (type of) stakeholder, as stakeholders perceive both the discoursed promise as also their everyday corporate realities in different manners. This individual perception of discourse and of the multitude of perceived realities and the volatility of their influencing variables exacerbate the successful management of the promise–realities gap.

This study develops the concept of achieved identity and examines its role in employee adjustment during times of organizational change. Specifically we examined the effects of achieved identity in a sample of food service employees at a southern university in the United States whose jobs were outsourced to a new organization. In this initial study, we found that: achieved identity was predictive of employees’ attachment to the pre-change employer; expected transfer of achieved identity was predictive of the transfer of work identities to the post-change environment; the ability to reestablish a positive work identity was important to employee adjustment to change. Using results obtained in this initial study, we develop a revised model of the role of achieved identity in organizational change.

There has been an upsurge of publications based on Hermann Witkin's ground-breaking work on cognitive styles and human perception differentiated into field-dependent and field-independent styles (Winerman, 2006; Nisbett & Miyamoto, 2005; Nisbett, 2003). This paper builds on current and past research of Witkin (1969) and applies his concepts to the study of global managers and OD practitioners. The goal is to describe core aspects of culture-related challenges, which global mangers and OD practitioners have to overcome, and ends with proposing future research on the possibilities of training global managers and OD practitioners in order to develop integrated perceptual-cognitive ability (IPCA). Such an IPCA competence would allow them to master both field dependent and field-independent perceptual-cognitive skills.

This chapter explores archetypal change in the context of professional service firms. To understand recent and ongoing changes in professional service firms, we briefly show how the professional archetype has evolved since the 1960s. We then present four theoretical models to describe processes by which institutionalized archetypes can change, and possibly coexist in the same field. Three professional archetypes are described, each in the context of historical development and the change model described earlier. At the one extreme is the traditional professional partnership; at the other the larger, multidisciplinary, corporate, global professional network, or GPN; in between is the “Star” form – relatively specialized, flatter structure, resisting significant growth, with fixations on excellence, and being the leader in a professional niche.

A framework is offered that predicts when public organizations are susceptible to change. Many researchers interested in change focus on leadership. Such an approach overlooks structural factors that inhibit change and what leaders seeking to realize change can realistically hope to accomplish. The framework identifies organizational capacity, responsiveness, and constituencies as key structural factors that govern change feasibility. Capacity, responsiveness, and constituencies are knitted together in the framework to identify types of public organizations that are ready for change and those apt to resist change. Types of change are considered that range from strategic repositioning to transformation. Also discussed are guidelines for leaders seeking to strategically reposition or to transform a public organization. To realize a transformation requires a new kind of leader, called a Mutualist. The skills required by Mutualist leadership and Mutualist leaders are identified and compared to those identified in the transformational leadership literature. Research questions are formulated and a research program proposed to deal with research issues identified by the framework.

Although the measurement of organizational readiness for change has been encouraged, measuring readiness for change poses a major empirical challenge. This is not because instruments designed to do this are not available. Researchers, consultants, and practitioners have published an array of instruments, suggesting that readiness can be measured from various perspectives and the concept of readiness has not been clearly defined. This paper reviews the history of the readiness concept, the perspectives used to assess readiness, and the psychometric properties of readiness instruments. Based on the review, an integrated definition of readiness is presented along with the implications of the definition for research and practice.

This chapter reports on a longitudinal quasi-experimental field study within an organizational design of a global consumer products manufacturer moving toward high-performance work systems (HPWSs) in North America by integrating business centers and self-directed work teams (SDWTs) coupled with 13 other action-levers within an integrated and bundled high-performance organizations (HPOs) re-design. The results of this organizational design effort are assessed using different types and levels of organizational outcomes (hard record data, behavioral, and attitudinal measures) along a 5-year temporal dimension punctuated by multiple time periods (baseline, during, and after). The organization, which was “built to change” (Lawler & Worley, 2006), in this research had already highly superior or “exemplar” (Collins, 2001) levels of organizational performance. Consequently, the real research question becomes: “What effect does state of the art organizational design and development have on an exemplar organization?” The study also calls into question the field's ability to truly assess exemplar organizations with existing measures of organizational change and development.

About the Authors

Pages 417-422
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Achilles A. Armenakis is the James T. Pursell, Sr. Eminent Scholar in the Department of Management at Auburn University. Achilles has published research on diagnosis, implementation, and evaluation of organizational change. His current research efforts are focused on the readiness, adoption, and institutionalization processes. He is a fellow of the International Academy of Management and of the Southern Management Association.

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Book series
Research in Organizational Change and Development
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Emerald Publishing Limited
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