Academic journal article Journal of Organizational Culture, Communications and Conflict

Cultural Norms That Facilitate Organizational Change in a Tire Mold Facility

Academic journal article Journal of Organizational Culture, Communications and Conflict

Cultural Norms That Facilitate Organizational Change in a Tire Mold Facility

Article excerpt

CULTURAL NORMS THAT FACILITATE ORGANIZATIONAL CHANGE IN A TIRE MOLD FACILITY

The year 2009 commenced with economic constraints in the United States that hampered productivity and profitability within the automobile industry (Wall Street Journal, 27 January, 2009). These conditions created the need for strategic communication to manage change, create strategies for recovery and regain stakeholder support. Organizational leaders navigating change rely on communication to manage multiple tasks like strategic planning, market analysis, information gathering, team building, and global relations. Effective communication, at the core of these actions, influences the degree to which leaders manage change (Pascale & Sternin, 2005). Although organizational change literature focuses primarily on how leaders inform organizational members about change from the top down, scant research examines the bottom up communication that creates change through norms.

Research suggests communication strategies enable change between management and support staff. For example, researchers like Lewis (1999) found that channels influence effectiveness. In his study, leaders using channels rich in cues, like those in face-to-face interactions, were most influential during times of change. Furthermore, acceptance of change is often dependent on how managers frame it and members perceive it as indicated by Rooney et al (2010) who studied the discourse of identity formation during transition and found differences in ways management and line workers negotiate those new identities. Like Rooney et al. (2010) Law (2009) examined the effects of change on organizational members and found that story telling can help facilitate change and be useful in training and assessing learned outcomes. Moreover, the study highlighted the importance of considering emotional reactions during times of transition. Pascale and Sternin (2005) cited examples of organizational leaders who capitalized on members' positive deviance to "fan the flames" of change. Similarly, Zorn, Page, and Cheney (2000) explored change communication from three theoretical perspectives highlighting progressive strategies and seemingly positive outcomes. Although researcher emphasizes management's role in change, Benjamin, Naimi, and Lopez (2012) identified seven models for organizational change that highlight both personal and organizational drivers. While much of the research discusses ways in which management employed communication strategies to implement change, little research exists about ways in which cultural norms influenced change.

Organizational members often resist change because it produces uncertainty and threatens stability for members and stakeholders. To maintain a level of certainty members adhere to cultural norms and thus preserve levels of satisfaction and cooperation. Since the industrial revolution, social scientists have found relationships between communication and productivity. For example, when Roethlisberger and Dickson (1939) examined data from the General Electric lighting project, they discovered workers who perceived researchers were observing them performed at high levels. Leadership and human relations studies since then focused on leadership styles and employee satisfaction with McGregor's (1960) Theory X and Theory Y. During the past three decades organizational communication scholars have emphasized organizational culture as a process rather than an output (Keyton, 2005; Peters & Waterman, 1982; Schein, 1996; Smircich, 1983) while some have found a positive relationship between cultural elements and positive deviance viewed as thriving (Sprietzer, Sutcliffe, & Dutton, 2005). During times of economic uncertainty and instability, organizational leaders who capitalize on the abilities of human resources to facilitate and implement changes that align with organizational goals can produce change effectively. Understanding of the organizational culture and identifying norms can aid in assessing internal factors that drive change. …

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