Managing Change in a Contemporary Organisation

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At the beginning of the 21st century the forms of change within organisations have been innovatory and a widespread conviction has arisen as to the revolutionary nature to such changes as a sign of the times, (Pettigrew & Massini, 2003). While Tushman & O’Reilly III (1996) argue that the industry level of studies has not been helpful in illustrating the path of organisation’s change, Greiner (1972) outlines a corporate growth model in order to provide a useful framework in understanding organisational change. Psychologists believe that learning as a human behaviour can be defined as the relatively permanent change in actions as a result of experience or practice, (Baars, 1986). Reflecting and highlighting this concept in relation to an organisation it is subsequently essential to look at organisational change from a historical perspective as organisations learn from their own experiences. Thus innovations in terms of evolutionary and revolutionary change occur at each organisational growth level as determined by Greiner (1972). To answer these fundamental questions about the nature of organisational change it is vital to distinguish between two levels of change. Similarly the factors that directly influence organisational behaviour and organisational features that determine these factors should be examined in turn need to be considered. In line with Greiner’s (1972) theory each of the organisational elements and processes are shaped by its choices implied in the consciousness of the history of the organisation.

Therefore the obvious features of an organisation can be defined and deduced from the aspects of organisational structure, organisational system and organisational culture of which it is composed, (Salaman & Asch, 2003). Researchers have argued that change that has limited influences on the entire organisational system and culture and which maintain unchanged structures are evolutionary thus the consequences of these changes are predictable and ultimately controllable for the most part by organisations. By contrast revolutionary change can be seen as changes that destroy the established structures of an organisation which have significant impacts on both the organisational processes and culture; such changes are generally unpredictable in their results, (Whittington & Melin, 2003). From an organisational growth perspective, evolutionary change is the way used to maintain smooth organisational growth while revolutionary change is essential for enabling an organisation to enter the next stage of growth in its organisational life cycle. However it needs to be stressed that evolutionary change does not occur automatically and result in revolutionary change so managers need to be aware of the characteristics of those two changes within an organisational context and how their influences and development can be mediated.

Theories of organisational development have been examined extensively by and within different management models yet it has been argued that the nature of organisational development suggests that mismatches exist between theory and practice suggesting flaws within theories concerning the manner in which organisations grow, (Greiner & Cummings, 2004). However the strategic role of understanding the dynamics of evolutionary and revolutionary change in organisations is still vital in analysing organisational growth. Firstly as an example of these dynamics we can look at the case of the dominant Japanese watch producer Seiko as being useful in understanding this concept from a practical point of view rather than a literature-only based analysis. Seiko which was founded in the 1960s was a relatively small player in the global market and focused more on the local Japanese market. A strategic change was initiated by the senior management team in order to transform the company from a merely mechanical watch firm into a quartz and mechanical watch company which would aim at entry into the global market, (Tushman...
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