Philosophies of Organizational Change

Philosophies of Organizational Change

Aaron C.T. Smith and Fiona M. Sutherland

Philosophies of Organizational Change explains the assumptions that drive different perspectives on organizational change management. The book describes and examines the myriad philosophical interpretations of change, revealing how and why managers confront change using so many competing methods. Each philosophy introduces the reader to the key theories used to diagnose organizations and prescribe change interventions. The book critically evaluates the arguments underpinning organizational change approaches and shows how they lead to different techniques and tools for practical change.

Chapter 2: Theories about theories: 'changing theories'

Aaron C.T. Smith and Fiona M. Sutherland

Subjects: business and management, organisational behaviour

Extract

2. Theories about theories: ‘changing theories’ INTRODUCTION So far we have introduced nine different philosophies of change, each one a different lens for viewing assumptions, premises, predictions, hypotheses and theories about the way organizational change works. Philosophies of change reveal the deep suppositions made about organizations and the ways change operates within and around them. In the following chapters, we examine each of the nine philosophies, detailing and critiquing their methods for change. Philosophies express their methods for change through inferences about the most effective way to introduce change. We use the term ‘theories’ as a sweeping label for these inferences. Theories refer to statements that express relationships among concepts (Greenwald, Pratkanis, Leippe and Baumgardner, 1986). A statement represents a theory to the extent that it offers law-like statements, or hypotheses, that make measurable predictions about change (Kuipers, 2007). Strong theories use hypotheses to present more predictions with greater precision than weak theories. All philosophies possess at least one major theory. Those theories, borne from the same philosophy, share a number of basic assumptions but at some point differ on key predictions and explanations, although they may be seen as siblings. However, the theories emanating from competing philosophies seldom agree on basic premises, even though we show throughout this text where common intersections lie. We also identify how and why organizational change philosophies and their theories altered over time. In this chapter we explore the ways in which organizational change theories can be influenced by fundamental assumptions about the nature...

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