Understanding Change

Topics: Systems theory, Organization, Sociology Pages: 47 (15178 words) Published: November 29, 2012

Understanding change
Perspectives on change The ethics of organizational change Planned change and its critics Strategic change Building and developing competitive advantage 3 39 73 11 1 147


Perspectives on change
1.1 Introduction 1.2 Perspectives on change 1.2.1 Modernity, progress, and change 1.2.2 Pathways to change 1.3 Structural-functional change: changing structures and functions 1.3.1 An organization is a complex whole 1.3.2 Structural theory 1.4 Multiple constituencies: change by negotiation 1.4.1 Stakeholder interests 1.5 Organizational Development: the humanistic approach to change 1.5.1 Intervention strategies at the individual level 1.5.2 Intervention strategies at the group level 1.5.3 Intervention strategies at the organizational level 1.6 Creativity and Volition: a Critical Theory of Change 1.6.1 Conflict, flux, and change 1.6.2 People are active agents 1.6.3 The critique of the spectator view of knowledge 1.7 Summary Study questions Exercises Further reading References

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1.1 Introduction
This chapter lays the framework for this book by arguing that organizational change is developed within models and frameworks that inform our understanding of the subject. In this chapter we will learn that knowledge and practice of organizational change are influenced by assumptions derived from the models or perspectives we use. For example, if we regard change as a matter of systemic structural arrangements we can make in an organization, then we can see how the analogy of organism or biological system helps to inform our judgements. Because perspectives offer ways of seeing, they will inevitably organize our perception in line with the dominant analogy used. However, analogies are only partial knowledge claims. Four perspectives on change are cited in this chapter: why four perspectives in particular? The answer to that question is straightforward but you need to understand at this point that a perspective is an overarching approach that contains a variety of theories that have become associated with it. You will see why these are the dominant perspectives once you have read the remainder of this section. First, the structural-functional perspective is the oldest approach to organizational design and therefore change. Like each perspective, it contains a variety of theories that attempted to resolve some of its difficulties as it developed. These theories include the hard systems, systems dynamics, cybernetics, soft systems, criticalsystems heuristics, and postmodern systems thinking (Jackson, 2003). The structuralfunctional perspective encourages us to think about structural arrangements and functional interrelationships within organizations. The development of the opensystems model in the 1950s assisted our understanding further by focusing on how inputs to an organization are transformed into outputs. This is useful for thinking about how we might change tasks and relationships in a production process. The value of the structural-functional perspective lies in its ability to change the arrangement of tasks and procedures in relation to the customer or client specification. The advantage of the perspective lies in its ability to look at an organization as a control mechanism: that is, to understand the important structural components and to articulate the functional interrelationships between the parts. Inevitably, structural redesign will therefore influence the functions that each part produces for the whole. But the perspective has disadvantages also. Because it is a model for controlling operations, it is therefore mechanistic. It tends to ignore how motivations, behaviours, attitudes, and values contribute to effective performance. The multiple constituencies perspective emerged from dissatisfaction with the structural-functional perspective. Although it was initially associated with the...
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