Organizational Behavior: The State of the Science

By Jerald Greenberg | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 5
PERSPECTIVES ON ORGANIZATIONAL CHANGE: EXPLORING MOVEMENT AT THE INTERFACE

Robert E. Quinn Joel A. Kahn Michael J. Mandl The University of Michigan--Ann Arbor

To Schwenk, vortices meant instability, and instability meant that flow was fighting an inequality within itself, and inequality was archetypal. The rolling eddies, the unfurling of ferns, the creasing of mountain ranges, the hollowing of animal organs all followed one path, as he saw it... The inequalities could be slow and fast, warm and cold, dense and tenuous, salt and fresh, viscous and fluid, acid and alkaline. At the boundary, life blossoms.

-- Gleick, 1987, p. 198


INTRODUCTION

This chapter begins with a brief review of four perspectives on organizational change. They are: organizational development, strategic choice, resource dependence and institutional theory, and population ecology. This chapter argues that researchers tend to seek new knowledge more often through differentiation within perspectives than they do by integrating across perspectives. The former practice tends to lead toward routinization and more systematic analysis. The latter practice tends toward creative conceptualization and new direction.

The purpose of this chapter is to help students of organizational change to consider the interface between perspectives and the potential for integrating across the tensions in the interface more frequently. To assist the reader, the chapter reviews some basic principles of polarity theory, and argues that new directions often emerge from cross boundary thinking, particularly when polarities are

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