Academic journal article Journal of East European Management Studies

The Impact of Organisational Culture on Attitudes concerning Change in Post-Soviet Organisations*

Academic journal article Journal of East European Management Studies

The Impact of Organisational Culture on Attitudes concerning Change in Post-Soviet Organisations*

Article excerpt

906 employees from Estonian companies were studied in order to explore how task-orientation and relationship-orientation of organisational culture influence attitudes to the process of organisational change among employees in post-socialist organisations. The current survey indicates that people who began working in the former Soviet Union differ from those who started their careers during the subsequent transition period according to the way they form their attitudes toward change. Relationship-orientation of organisational culture predicts a belief in the benefits of change only in the group of people who started their work life in Soviet organisations.

In einer Studie wurden 906 estnische Mitarbeiter von Firmen studiert um zu untersuchen, wie die Aufgabenorientierung und Beziehungsorientierung in der Organisationskultur die Einstellungen von Angestellten zum Prozess von organisatorischen Veränderungen in post-sozialistischen Organisationen beeinflusst. Die neueste Studie zeigt einen Unterschied hinsichtlich der Einstellung zu Veränderungen zwischen jenen die in der früheren Sowjetunion zu arbeiten begannen und jenen die ihre Karriere in den darauf folgenden Jahren des Übergangs starteten. Die Beziehungsorientierung in einer Organisationskultur sagt nur einen Glauben an Vorteile von Veränderungen in der Gruppe von Menschen voraus, die ihr Arbeitsleben in sowjetischen Organisationen begannen.

Key Words: Organizational change / organizational culture / employees' attitudes toward changes /post-soviet organization

Introduction

The keywords concerning today's economy include changing environment and divergent work force. Estonian organisations have operated in a turbulent environment for more than 10 years. The heritage of 50 years of Soviet occupation has left Estonia with a divergent workforce with differing attitudes toward change in society and in organisations. People have started their careers and formed their work-related attitudes in different economic systems - some during a planned economy and some during the recent economic reforms. According to social scientists, strong attitudes may be resistant to change because people are motivated to defend their attitudes and a person's current attitudes function to shape the formation of new attitudes (Brief 1998).

Research in transition countries has shown that the transfer of knowledge from market-economy practices often fails because of institutional and cultural tensions and conflict (Clark and Geppert 2002). According to Edwards and Lawrence (2000) the emergent change to processes in transition countries can only be truly understood by examining the constitutive practices of individuals and groups at the local micro levels of the economic system.

In this paper the transition from a centrally planned economy to a market economy is viewed from a socio-economic perspective, focusing particularly on the influence of organisational culture on attitudes toward change. Research and theory development regarding the social aspects of organisational change in transforming countries with rapidly changing environments has been undertaken by Breu (2001), Child and Czegledy (1996), Clark and Soulsby (1999), Liuhto (1999a, 1999b), Soulsby (2001), Thomson (2001), Weik (2001) and others, who turned most of their attention upon managers. At the same time research in post-soviet enterprises indicates more problems with attitudes to change among workers and lower level managers than top managers (Clarke et al. 1994). The research question here is concerned with how different environments have influenced the way people form their attitudes toward change in organisations. In this exploratory study we compare how organisational culture helps to increase employee commitment to organisational change in groups of lower level employees with a different work experience. In order to assess employee attitudes the authors developed a measure.

As problems concerning groups with different work histories and attitudes are common to several post-socialist countries (Dobosz and Jankowicz 2002: 357) current research is important not only for Estonia, but also for other countries facing similar circumstances. …

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