A Case Study in Organisational Change Implication for Theory

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A case study in organisational change: implications for theory Lindsay Nelson Introduction Organisation theory has developed through major epochs of classical, human relations and contingency approaches, all of which have contributed to the accumulation of knowledge about implementing change. The legacy of these approaches has been to regard organisational change as something of an aberration or a departure from the more usual static position of organisations. Hence, for example, Lewin’ s (1951) depiction of stability before and after a change intervention which, interestingly, assumes change to be endogenous. More recently focus has switched to examining fundamental aspects of change, developing ways of theorising about change and…show more content…
Number 1 . 2003 . 18-30 people and processes, which is never perfect (Tushman et al., 1986, p. 33). It is therefore a continuing process aimed at achieving improved strategic alignment. The imagery here is more akin to a duck in the middle of a flowing river; whilst seemingly inactive it never-the-less maintains equilibrium through a lot of activity below the surface. Leifer (1989) regards change as normal and simply a natural response to environmental and internal conditions. He argues that change is consistent with open systems in which learning occurs and goes on to describe the stable state as a myth. Learning here refers to change or adapation resulting from experience, and is conceptually similar to Katz and Kahn’ s (1978) account of dynamic homeostasis. On this basis all organisation theory, through the classical, human relations and contingency periods, is connected with change. This view is supported by Dunphy (1996) who regards these epochs as early attempts to understand change. The work of Mintzberg (1979, 1991), Ulrich and Lake (1991), and Senge (1990, 1993) also reflect the need for organisations to adopt forms which permit continuing adjustment and learning to take place. For these reasons it appears that a normal part of organisational life includes the capacity to change, particularly in the shift from a
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