A Call for Studying Reorganizations at the Micro-Level
Spencer, Joe, Journal of Organizational Culture, Communications and Conflict
The research analyzing corporate reorganizations at the micro-level is in short supply. Micro-level reorganizations are reorganizations that are not corporate-wide in nature. These micro-level restructures occur at the functional unit level within a corporate governance structure (including departments/divisions and processes). Micro-level research is recommended in five contexts: 1.) the volume and importance of micro-level reorganizations 2.) the nature of the drivers that cause micro-level reorganizations 3.) the motivations of managers who cause and implement micro-level reorganizations and what happens to those managers following the reorganizations 4.) the abilities of those instituting the micro-level changes 5.) the success of micro-level reorganizations as they relate to the type of reorganization, effects on work activities, reasons for and methods of implementation.
Could it be that in our exuberance to understand and support corporate reorganizations, that we have let the media influence our research? Could our studies have diverted attention from the crucial areas which could enable overall firm success resulting from reorganizational events? Even if reorganizations are corporate-wide, the execution of such a reorganization is at the departmental level. In addition, department level reorganizations apart from corporate-wide events occur with a frequency and with such impact to corporate effectiveness and efficiency, that study should be devoted to reorganizations at the micro-level.
MICRO-LEVEL REORGANIZATIONS ARE THE UNANALYZED KEY
Corporate reorganizations have been in vogue for the past 15 plus years. Media attention has made reorganizations primary events executives examine for productivity gains. Despite the level of reorganizational activity and the impact reorganizations have caused upon human lives and company profits, few studies have not been done on one of the most crucial areas of reorganizational efforts--the effects of reorganizations at the micro-level. The micro-level of reorganization applies to reorganizational efforts which are not corporate-wide in nature. Rather, these micro-level restructures are at the functional unit level within a corporate governance structure (including departments and processes within a company). These functional units conduct reorganizational activity apart from corporate-wide efforts and are the instruments of implementing corporate-wide reorganizational activities. Micro-level reorganizations include events which are as simple as realigning who reports to whom (structural only), to the complex reorganizations which are done in conjunction with system and process changes (reengineering) and those associated with eliminating organizations and downsizing sections of a company.
Corporate-wide (macro-level) reorganization efforts often include multiple micro-level reorganizations within the umbrella of corporate-wide change efforts. However, the micro-level reorganization can occur independent from executive level corporate-wide change interventions. At the macro-firm level a host of studies have been conducted analyzing corporate restructures. These studies review theoretical understandings as diverse as Darwinistic evolutionary theories applied to corporate-wide reorganizations (White, Marin, Brazeal and Friedman, 1997) and Kleiner's thesis that change agents from the fourth through eighth century were no different than the corporate change agents of today (Kleiner, 1996). The research level devoted to these types of corporate change efforts has been impressive.
Upon the development of the reorganization craze it was immediately recognized that from a business, HR, and interpersonal level the causes, processes and effects of corporate-wide reorganizations needed to be understood and advice provided to corporate executives. Research now needs to be directed toward micro-level reorganizations, both for understanding their importance, and how such reorganizations can be made more effective. …