Organizational Change: Sociological Perspectives

Organizational Change: Sociological Perspectives

Organizational Change: Sociological Perspectives

Organizational Change: Sociological Perspectives

Synopsis

In recent years, there has been an explosion of books on the nature of organisational change and the management skills needed to effectively carry it out. Many are written by change gurus and management consultants offering quick fixes and metaphor laden business toolkits, however, much of their advice is banal and under-theorized. This book redresses this balance by providing an original analysis of change management in organizations in the light of wider sociological perspectives. It critically examines the, often implicit, theoretical frameworks underpinning many contemporary accounts of organizational change, and covers subjects including:* the importance of explicit analysis of theory and context* a critique of populist management gurus and quick-fix 'how-to' solutions* 'under-socialized' models of change which emphasise structure over human action* trenchant analysis of 'soft' HRM solutions* the management of culture.Radical and innovative, this book, the first to adopt a sociological approach, is a much-needed challenge to the orthodoxies of change management.

Excerpt

We might expect the field of study concerned with attempts to plan and manage the process of change within work organizations to be a rich, complex and often perplexing subject area. Certainly that was my expectation of the field when in 1990, I first came into contact with a subject termed 'managing change'. With a background in political economy and industrial relations I had expected to enter a complex, difficult but nonetheless rewarding field of study. I had expected that the field would have at its core, a concern with attempts to develop frameworks for study and analysis which would attempt to capture and to make sense of the complex dynamics of change as experienced by the various actors involved. The field of 'managing change', I soon discovered to my frustration and disappointment, was quite different.

Despite a genuflection towards the complexity of issues, the field of 'managing change', as I first experienced it was surprisingly untroubled by theoretical or methodological concerns. Instead, to me it seemed that many of those who regarded themselves as key contributors to the field, seemed either to ignore the methodological and theoretical problems and inconsistencies of their work, or had decided to let others stumble and stagger through the methodological and theoretical mine-fields associated with the study of dynamic phenomena. Indeed, from my perspective it seemed that many of the key figures concerned with the study of change and its management had decided to brush aside such abstractions as theoretical reflection altogether, so that they might get on with the truly important (and lucrative) business of attempting to bring about change in organizations.

As a result the field I stumbled into was surprisingly non-theoretical in its treatment of organizations and change. Accordingly the managers and students I encountered, did not engage in meaningful theoretical discourse, nor did they discuss empirical analyses of organizational change and dynamics. Instead both students and managers traded truisms and banalities as they attempted the exercises and case studies developed for them. However, the students were not and are not to blame for the limitations of their approach, nor are they to blame for the limitations of their educational experience (although they may have contributed to the field's problems since they seem resistant to the study of theoretical issues). Students can only craft mature, defensible and theoretically

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