Research in Organizational Change and Development: Volume 19


Table of contents

(15 chapters)

Volume 19 of Research in Organizational Change and Development includes chapters by an international diverse set of authors including Michael Beer, Victor J. Friedman, Luis Felipe Gómez and Dawna I. Ballard, Ethan S. Bernstein and Frank J. Barrett, Karen J. Jansen and David A. Hofmann, Guido Maes and Geert Van Hootegem, Tobias Fredberg, Flemming Norrgren and Abraham B. (Rami) Shani, and William A. Pasmore. The ideas expressed by these authors are as diverse as their backgrounds.

The field of organization development is fragmented and lacks a coherent and integrated theory and method for developing an effective organization. A 20-year action research program led to the development and evaluation of the Strategic Fitness Process (SFP) – a platform by which senior leaders, with the help of consultants, can have an honest, collective, and public conversation about their organization's alignment with espoused strategy and values. The research has identified a syndrome of six silent barriers to effectiveness and a dynamic theory of organizational effectiveness. Empirical evidence from the 20-year study demonstrates that SFP always enables truth to speak to power safely, and in a majority of cases enables senior teams to transform silent barriers into strengths, realign their organization's design and strategic management process with strategy and values, and in a few cases employ SFP as an ongoing learning and governance process. Implications for organization and leadership development and corporate governance are discussed.

How can leaders adopt a mindset that maximizes learning, remains responsive to short-term emergent opportunities, and simultaneously strengthens longer-term dynamic capabilities of the organization? This chapter explores the organizational decisions and practices leaders can initiate to extend, strengthen, or transform “ordinary capabilities” (Winter, 2003) into enhanced improvisational competence and dynamic capabilities. We call this leadership logic the “jazz mindset.” We draw upon seven characteristics of jazz bands as outlined by Barrett (1998) to show that strategic leaders of business organizations can enhance dynamic capabilities by strengthening practices observed in improvising jazz bands.

The concept that an organization's actions or inactions constrain or enhance its future options and outcomes and – ultimately – its long-term survival, is here referred to as the organization's viability. Following a dynamic capabilities framework, we identify two communication practices that help develop both transactive memory systems and a firm's long-term viability, information allocation and collective reflexivity, and call for the development of others. We discuss the interrelationship of these two practices as nurturing the development of transactive memory systems critical for organizational long-term viability. We then discuss organizational structures that prompt or constrain the development of these two communication practices – organizational members’ perceived environmental uncertainty, perceptions of time as scarce, feedback cycles between actions and outcomes, and organizational members’ temporal focus – and offer propositions concerning these relationships. We emphasize the relevance of TMS through the exploration of three characteristics of the relationship between TMS and the long-term viability of organizations. Finally, we conclude with recommendations for organizational development practitioners for fostering TMS through the facilitation of sites for collective reflexivity.

Increasing market pressures require organizations to rethink the development of change capability. Building a sustainable and flexible organization capable of responding in a timely manner to quickly changing customer demands without compromising technological excellence and quality is a complex task. This chapter builds on a five-year study of transformation efforts at a product development unit of Ericsson. The complexity of designing and managing learning mechanisms as both a transformation engine and a way to improve new product development is captured. The chapter points toward the challenges of designing and managing learning mechanisms that enhance organizational agility.

In a series of studies, we develop and validate an approach to studying momentum fluctuations over the course of organizational change to better understand the dynamics of change processes. The first study experimentally examines momentum fluctuations in a controlled change context and explores individual predictors of variance in momentum. The second study utilizes a real organizational setting, examining organizationally relevant predictors of momentum variance and the ability of momentum trends to predict meaningful organizational outcomes. Combined results provide evidence that momentum mapping is a valid approach for researchers and managers exploring processes that unfold over time.

The literature on change is characterized by an opposite, dichotomist view on the subject. Many authors describe only one or some of these characteristics and attribute a normative value to it. When discussing one of these attributes they will make a deviating classification in the way in which change arises. Although types and attributes of change are largely studied in the change literature, there is no general agreement on the attributes that can best describe the different types of change. The purpose of this chapter is to try to consolidate the vast literature on the types and attributes of change in order to find a more homogeneous set of attributes.

From an extensive literature research on change articles and books from 1970 onward, eight dimensions of change attributes were found that are able to describe the characteristics of a change in a dynamic way.

In order to overcome the dichotomist view, organizational change is approached not as a process changing a system but as a system by itself. Although the borders between the change system and the system to be changed are not always easy to perceive, this view seems to create a richer picture on change. A systems approach allows to define the attributes of change in a holistic way that captures the always paradoxical state change is in.

This chapter revisits social space and field theory, constructs foundational to the work of Kurt Lewin but largely abandoned by his followers. It describes the “mystification” surrounding these concepts in the work of Lewin and the sociologist, Pierre Bourdieu. It then attempts to demystify social space and field theory by looking at their roots in the idea of “relational thinking” – an idea set forth by the philosopher Ernst Cassirer, who had a powerful influence on both Lewin and Bourdieu. Finally, it suggests how these concepts can generate innovative thinking about organizational change and development.

High rates of failure in organizational change efforts call attention to the need to identify and address persistent problems that threaten success. This chapter outlines issues that frequently hinder progress in various stages of the change process and offers advice to consultants and their clients in overcoming these issues. While models to guide intervention have advanced and the field has progressed, more attention still needs to be paid to the issues outlined here in order to enhance success rates in major change initiatives. New directions for research are suggested that would aid the field in continuing its evolution.

Dawna I. Ballard (PhD, University of California, Santa Barbara, 2002) is associate professor in the Department of Communication Studies at the University of Texas at Austin. Her research examines organizational temporality, with particular attention to ways in which time shapes and is shaped by a range of communication processes. Her published research appears in outlets such as Communication Research, Communication Monographs, Small Group Research, Management Communication Quarterly, as well as several interdisciplinary edited volumes, including Time and Memory, Workplace Temporalities, and Time in Organizational Research.

Publication date
Book series
Research in Organizational Change and Development
Series copyright holder
Emerald Publishing Limited
Book series ISSN