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 11: Conclusion. the dualities philosophy: 'changing tensions'

Aaron C.T. Smith and Fiona M. Sutherland

Subjects: business and management, organisational behaviour


11. Conclusion. The dualities philosophy: ‘changing tensions’ INTRODUCTION So far in this text we have described and assessed eight philosophies of organizational change. We began with the rational philosophy, which remains the enduring approach upon which change management practitioners rely. Part of its popularity emanates from the strategic alignment the rational philosophy encourages between an organization’s competencies and environmental opportunities. In addition, the rational philosophy makes the compelling case that change pivots upon leaders’ whims because they wield the power to make best use of resources in the pursuit of objectives. Change is only limited by a leader’s capacity to envision a new future. Once a vision and accompanying objectives have been determined, the change becomes a mechanical and clinical process. Sound planning and execution can bring about any change. Firmly in the hands of leaders, success reflects a capacity to translate objectives into stepwise actions. Change is only a plan away. Rational approaches assume that intention and outcome connect in a causal and linear manner. Change predictably results from simple steps in the strategic process. Any prescriptive, logical and simple advice for introducing change tends to be well received by change managers. After all, navigating the uncertainties of organizational behaviour will be aided by a decent map. Because rational models provide piecemeal steps for implementing change, they can be bolted onto most change philosophies. However, rational models seldom recognize the complexities of change and the impact of external, unplanned circumstances. Reality can quickly diverge from even the best plans....

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