Novotel Changes Management

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geLong Range Planning 33 (2000) 779-804

www.elsevier.com/locate/lrp

Managing Change at Novotel: Back to the Future
Roland Calori, Charles Baden-Fuller and Brian Hunt

Novotel is one of the world’s major hotel chains, occupying a leading place in Europe and with locations globally. We interpret Novotel’s change management programme in the 1990s in three parts. First, we summarise the actions that managers took in terms of strategy and organisation. Second, we consider the sequence and timing of events, and how this resulted in rapid transformation in an organisation employing more than 30,000 people. Third, we emphasise the dialectical nature of the change processes: an element often ignored in the literature that likes to see things as an either–or rather than a both. We observed both deliberation and experimentation; both integration and differentiation. We also observed both preservation and transformation, as noted in our sub-title ‘Back to the Future’. Finally, we wrap up with a discussion explaining how our story can add to better thinking about change. We suggest that we can shed new light on some old debates and provide tangible guides for action. k 2001 Elsevier Science c Ltd. All rights reserved.

Introduction
The study of organisational dynamics has produced innumerable accounts and theoretical frameworks, and yet neither practitioners nor scholars seem to be satisfied with the stock of existing knowledge. This is probably because organisational changes are complex phenomena that can be viewed from different and complementary perspectives.1 Each perspective reveals different angles. Here we focus on the insights from a longitudinal process perspective.2 In this paper we reflect on the particular scenario of strategic change which took place at Novotel, the international three-star hotel chain which is part of the Accor Group of France, between 1992 and 1995. Accor has been established for more than 20 years and has been evolving continuously to fit with the changing environment by launching new concepts such as the Formula One hotel chain (written up elsewhere3 and by rejuvenating its existing businesses 0024-6301/01/$ - see front matter k 2001 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved. c PII: S 0 0 2 4 - 6 3 0 1 ( 0 0 ) 0 0 0 9 0 - X

Roland Calori is Professor of Business Policy, Lyon Management School, 23 Avenue Guy de Collongue, BP 174, 69132 Ecully Cedex, France. Tel.: +33 4 78 33 7929; fax: +33 4 78 33 7927; Email: calori@em-lyon.com Charles Baden-Fuller is the editor-in-chief of this journal since 1999. He is also Professor of Strategy at City University Business School, and part-time Professor at the Rotterdam School of Management,

Erasmus University Rotterdam. He has recently benefited from visiting positions at the Haas School, University of California at Berkeley and the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania. He has served on commissions that looked to evaluate research programmes of business schools in several European countries, and this has stimulated this project. Brian Hunt is Director of Research at Mahidol College of Management, Bangkok, Thailand. In the UK he has held posts at Reading University, Bath University, City University Business School and Imperial College. Brian is co-editor (with Stuart Barnes) of the book, ECommerce and V-Business published by ButterworthHeinemann.

including the Novotel chain. Here, we emphasise the rejuvenation side of Accor’s renewal strategy, and the Novotel story. This shows how an old business can be turned around, and that this process need not be slow, and moreover how it can benefit from a dialectical approach. This rejuvenation was radical, and at the same time distinctly European in a global business. Our study has some valuable lessons. By taking a longitudinal perspective spanning many levels inside the firm, and by making connections to the competitive environment, we isolate the value of seeing change as a holistic phenomenon.4 Real...
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