Academic journal article Journal of Positive Management

Changing from the Inside Out: Leading Organizational Change as an Insider

Academic journal article Journal of Positive Management

Changing from the Inside Out: Leading Organizational Change as an Insider

Article excerpt

1. Introduction

This paper is a literature review exploring the possibility of using auto/ ethnography as a reflexive tool for managers when leading organizational change as an insider. It begins with an examination of the concept of planned change followed by the characteristics and skills required of internal change agents. This concludes with the argument that identity of the internal change agent must be defined through her performances in the role of the change agent; in other words she must become the change. This leads to a discussion of role performativity as a change agent which concludes with the assertion that the performances of the internal change agent result in her and the change she is leading becoming inseparably linked to one another, thus resulting in a lack of awareness of self in the process. Reflexivity is presented as a tool for the change agent to cope with this reciprocal relationship but the process of employment is vague at best. Auto/ ethnography is then introduced and presented as a potential method to support the reflexive process for the change agent.

2. Planned Change

An understanding of organizational change is necessary to understanding organizations themselves and can be investigated from various perspectives (Ferreira and Armagan, 2011). Within the literature surrounding organizing and organization there are multiple typologies (for example: first, second and third order change (Bartunek and Michael, 1987); Life Cycle Theory, Evolution, Dialectic and Teleological (Van de Ven and Poole, 1995) and models of change presented (Sturdy and Grey, Beneath and beyond organizational change (Sturdy and Grey, Beneath and beyond organizational change management: exploring alternatives, 2003; Schein, 1995). This wide variety of options can be loosely categorized into two main perspectives that are debated; 1- that organizations are the result of causal relationships and static patterns or 2- that organizations are social constructs created by actors as they generate shared understandings of reality (Orlikowski, Improvising organizational transformation over time: A situated change perspective, 1996; Maas and Ottenheym, 1994; Weick and Quinn, 1999). Though it is of course possible to examine the organization as a series of causal relationships, this is a positivistic approach which also assumes that the organization is a static thing which exists regardless of the movements of the actors within its boundaries.

Beginning with the work of Lewin during the Second World War and beyond, the change process and organizational change processes have been under investigation and discussion (Burnes, 2004; Schein, 1995). Lewin's work focused on what is defined as the planned change process, an economically driven linear change process wherein the need to change is determined by a set of external factors, predominantly related to market economics, resulting in company leaders deciding that change is/was necessary to keep up with the times. Planned Change is often used to drive changes which are necessary to increase economic value and focuses on dramatic, rapid and oftentimes painful changes that could not be achieved through a development strategy. It is deemed suitable when the problem is explicit, not too complex and the solution is achievable Sturdy and Grey, Beneath and beyond organizational change management: exploring alternatives, (2003). Inherent in this type of change process is the concept that the change process has a beginning and an end point; the end point being time and goal bound, wherein the achievement of the goals set at the beginning of the change process are met thus signaling the end of the change process. This type of change occurs when the change agent takes intentional steps to move the organization from one state of being to another (Ford and Ford, 1995; Robertson et al., 1993; Jian, 2007). In order to move the organization through the change process, Lewin argued that there is a series of 3 steps which punctuate the change process; initiation (unfreeze)-implementation (move) - outcome (re-freeze) (Boonstra, 2004; Weick and Quinn, 1999; Schein, 1995). …

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