Evolutionary vs Revolutionary Change in Hrm

Topics: Evolution, Management, Organization Pages: 5 (1748 words) Published: April 4, 2012
Human Resource Management & Change Management

Facilitator: Dr. Marian Crowley-Henry
Submission Date: 17th November 2011
Assignment 2:
Word-count: 1452
Student Name & ID: Martin Wickham 66134951
Self-check on Turnitin used: Yes

I declare that this assignment which I submit in partial fulfilment of the assessment requirements on MB602 is my own work, attributes relevant quotes and/or ideas to the respective authors/owners of such quotes/ideas, adheres to the Harvard style of referencing, and has not been submitted as an assignment elsewhere. Signed

Date: 17th November 2011

Essay Choice
The most effective way to change an organization is to use evolutionary change. OR. The most effective way to change an organization is to use revolutionary change. Arguments in favour of evolutionary change

Change is a fact of life. It happens whether we like it or not. It can be argued that our ability to influence it or respond appropriately determines whether we feel in control and perceive ourselves as being successful in life either at a personal or organisational level. (Van De Ven and Poole, 1995) proposed four basic theories to explain change from an organisational perspective: lifecycles, teleological, dialectic and evolution. They also suggest that these “change motors” and their interplay can be used to analyse most theories of change (even complex ones). 1. Lifecycle theory is based on the phenomenon of organic growth, which describes a cycle from beginning to end or birth to death. There are usually a number of defined stages and milestones marking those stages along the way. 2. Teleology defines the change that occurs within an organisation as being goal or outcome driven. It assumes that the organisation is adaptive and purposeful and constructs the anticipated end state. 3. Dialectic theory assumes that the organisation exists in a pluralistic ever-changing world of colliding forces with different values and that stability exists only as a kind of balance of power between entities. 4. Evolution is most commonly associated with the Darwinian idea (Darwin, 1936) of gradual continuous and incremental change through variation, selection and retention. Teleological and dialectic models are considered to be constructive i.e. can generate new forms, which are discontinuous, while lifecycle and evolutionary change are more prescriptive in their outcomes. Prescriptive change tends to produce what (Watzlawick et al., 1974) describe as first-order change which is change within the system. For the purposes of this discussion, lifecycle and evolutionary change will be grouped because they both stand in stark contrast to the modes and outcomes of revolutionary change.

Much of the literature and even the news constantly reminds us of the need for change but often we are so fixated on change that we do not notice the number of things which stay the same (Huy and Mintzberg, 2003) identify three types of change: organic, systematic and dramatic. They argue that much of the effective change that happens is organic and happens by accident (organically) or results from some orderly steps (systematic). Times of crisis are usually associated with dramatic or revolutionary change, which is driven from the top, but the results of dramatic change can be bad as much as good. Systematic change is slow, considered and orderly and is often driven by specialists within the organisation or through external consultants. Organic change, on the other hand, tends to rise from with the ranks and is often un-managed. As such it can be somewhat unfocused and splintered but usually is not dramatic in its intent. It can, however, have a dramatic impact as it is driven from grass roots. If organic change can be fostered by charismatic leaders, it can be very powerful as it is internalised by members of the organisation. Huy and Mitzberg (2003) suggest that a balance between these three types of change...
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