Success and Failure in Organizational Change

14750 Words Apr 25th, 2012 59 Pages
To cite this article: Bernard Burnes & Philip Jackson (2011): Success and Failure In Organizational Change: An Exploration of the Role of Values, Journal of Change Management,

ABSTRACT One of the most remarkable aspects of organizational change efforts is their low success rate. There is substantial evidence that some 70% of all change initiatives fail. This article explores the argument that a potentially significant reason for this is a lack of alignment between the value system of the change intervention and of those members of an organization undergoing the change. In order to test this assertion, the article begins by reviewing the change literature with regard to the impact of values on success and failure. It then examines Graves’
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However, the problem with such explanations is that implicitly or explicitly they assume that there is a ‘one best way’ to manage change and that failure arises from not adhering to it (Burnes, 1996). Confusingly, there are quite a few ‘one best way’ approaches to change (Collins, 1998; By, 2005). For example, Kanter (Kanter et al., 1992) offered her 10 commandments for successful change, Pugh (1993) has his four principles of change and Kotter (1996) put forward his eight-step model. Two, however, have stood out from the rest. From the 1950s to the 1970s, organization development (OD) tended to be seen as the best way to manage change (French and Bell, 1999; Cummings and Worley, 2005). In the 1980s and 1990s, the emergent/processual approach came to dominate the field, at least among academics (Dawson, 1994; Orlikowski, 1996; Weick, 2000). Nevertheless, in recent years there has been a growing recognition that one or even two approaches to change cannot cover the vast variety of change situations (Storey, 1992; Stickland, 1998; Pettigrew, 2000; Burnes, 2009a). As Dunphy and Stace (1993, p. 905) argued:
. . . managers and consultants need a model of change that is essentially a ‘situational’ or ‘contingency’ model, one that indicates how to vary change strategies to achieve ‘optimum fit’ with the changing environment.

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