Work, Change, and Competition: Managing for Bass

By David Preece; Gordon Steven et al. | Go to book overview

5

Change and changing

There are a number of matters which will be discussed in this main section. We will begin by distinguishing between what is meant by ‘change’ and ‘changing’; this is followed by an overview of ‘strategic’ or, as it is sometimes called, ‘planned’ change and some of the ways in which such change can begin. The foregoing necessarily draws upon a consideration of Organization Development (OD), and so something will be said here about the nature of OD, before addressing some of the main problems associated with this perspective on organizational change. Following this critique, the narrative moves away from OD to consider alternative frameworks for studying organizational change, labelled ‘emergent’ or ‘processual-contextual’. On the basis of this discussion of OD and organizational change, the narrative then turns to an examination of the people who take on a responsibility for change within organizations (‘change agents’).

Clearly it is an impossible task to outline and discuss all the variety of forms which organizational change can take, such as cultural, structural, redesign of jobs, introduction of new working practices, changes to grading and remuneration systems, and changes to the modes of control. The nature and implications of any and all of these changes will vary both across different organizations and within the same organization over time. Given that the central focus of the book is upon a detailed outline and analysis of the many facets of a major strategic change initiative in a particular organization, we decided to elaborate more fully upon each of the aspects of the change process at the point at which they are addressed in the book, rather than in this chapter.


Change versus changing

Brunsson and Olsen (1993) talk about what they refer to as ‘administrative reform’, and ask why reform projects are so common, given that they often do not involve any organizational change. One response they provide to this question is that ‘reforms are easier to initiate than to decide on, and easier to decide on than to implement’ (1993:6). Another is that the employees on the ‘receiving end’ of the reforms do not support them because they recognize that they are based on faulty premises, are self-contradictory, or destructive. It may sometimes make sense for senior managers to ‘boast’ that certain reforms have occurred in order to display

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