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Change Management

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Change Management ­MGMT625
VU
LESSON #21
FOOTNOTES TO ORGANISATIONAL CHANGE
The leading management scholar James March's study dealt with the leading attribute of organizational
change. Following are the excerpts and selection from his famous article footnotes to organizational
change published in one of the leading management research journal, Administrative Sciences Quarterly
in 1981.
He suggested five footnotes on organization change as they emphasize the relation between change and
adaptive behavior which highlights the prosaic nature of change.
Foot Note 1
Organizations are continually changing, routinely, easily and responsively, but change within them
cannot be controlled arbitrarily. Organizations rarely do exactly what they are told to do.
Foot note 2
Changes in organizations depend on a few stable processes. Theories of change emphasize either the
stability of the processes or the changes they produce, but serious understandings of organizations
require attentions to both.
Foot note 3
Different theories of change are in fact different ways to depict different theories of action. Most
changes in organization reflect simple responses to demographic, economic, social and political forces.
What we identify as political, economic societal and technological (PEST) analyses are connected with
different parts of environment?
Footnote 4
Although org. response to environmental events is broadly adaptive and mostly routine-based, the
response takes place in a confusing world. As a result prosaic (characterless) processes sometimes have
surprising outcomes.
Footnote 5
Adaptation to changing environment involves and interplays of rationality and foolishness. Organization
foolishness is not maintained as conscious strategy, but embedded in such organisational anomalies as
slack, managerial incentives, symbolic action, ambiguity and loose coupling.
Stable Processes of Change
One view is that change fails not because organizations are rigid and inflexible but they are impressively
imaginative. According to Aldrich in most organization failure occur early in life when organizations
are small and flexible, not later. There is considerable level of stability in organization and organisations
are remarkably adaptive as enduring institutions, respond to volatile environments easily, though not
optimally
We are inclined to look for most dramatic explanations for change, is our common mistake. Most
changes in organizations result neither from organization processes or forces, nor from uncommon
imagination but from relatively stable, routine processes that relate organization to their environments.
Many of the most stable procedures in an organisation are procedures for responding to economic,
social and political contexts. The routine processes of organisational adaptation are little complex, and a
theory of change must take into account how these processes can produce unusual patterns of action.
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Change Management ­MGMT625
VU
Therefore theory of organization change should not be different from a theory of ordinary action.
Therefore research on organization as routine adaptive systems emphasize six (06) basic perspectives
for interpreting organization action which are as under:
1. Rule following
2. Problem solving
3. Learning
4. Conflict
5. Contagion
6. Regeneration
1. Rule Following
Application of standard operating procedures (SOPs), duties, obligation, roles, rules, and criteria evolve
through competition and survival, and those followed by organizations that survive, grow and multiply
come to dominate the pool of procedures
2. Problem Solving
Action can be seen as problem solving. The underlying process involves choosing among alternatives
by using some decision rule that compares alternatives in terms of their expected consequences. It is the
rational actor model which prevails in organizations. Managers make rational choice under certain
conditions of risk and cost-benefit analyses.
3. Learning
Action can be seen as stemming from past learning. The underlying process is one in which an
organization is conditioned through trial and error to repeat behaviour that has been successful in the
past, and to avoid that has been unsuccessful. Learning is what can be identified as experiential in
nature.
4. Conflict
Action can be seen as resulting from conflicting among individuals or groups representing diverse
interests. The underlying process is one of confrontation, bargaining and coalition, in which outcomes
depend on the initial preferences of actors weighted by their power. Edgar Schein talked of negotiated
order to exist in context of organization. Changes result from shifts in the mobilization or in the
resources managers' control. This change is again a negotiated one by different members of
organization who want to adjust policies as per their understanding view and influence in organization.
This model is the one based on politics. Members of organization interact in a political manners and
change results in a politically negotiated settlement amongst them. Another view relates to the pecking
order in organization ­ explains the existence of hierarchical or top down order in organizations.
5. Contagion
Action can be seen as spreading from one organization to another. The underlying processes is one in
which variations in contact among organizations and in the attractiveness of the behaviour or beliefs
being imitated affect the rate and pattern of spread.
6. Regeneration
Action can be seen as resulting from the intentions and competencies of organization actors. Turnover in
organization introduces new members with different attitudes, abilities and goals. This resembles
organization life cycle approach and is quite like birth, growth, maturity and decline.
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Change Management ­MGMT625
VU
An organization uses rules, problem-solving, learning, conflict, contagion, and regeneration to cope
with its environment and actively adapt to it. The processes are conservative that is they tend to
maintain stable relations, sustain existing rules, and reduce differences among organizations. The above
six processes are neither esoteric (mysterious), complicated nor mutually exclusive.
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