Management Challenges and Symptoms
Edited by Janice Langan-Fox, Cary L. Cooper and Richard J. Klimoski
Chapter 23: Organizational Change and its Dysfunctional Effect on Managers in Large Organizations
23 Organizational change and its dysfunctional eﬀect on managers in large organizations Les Worrall, Cary L. Cooper and Kim Mather Introduction One of the best-known opening lines in English literature comes from Charles Dickens’s book, A Tale of Two Cities (1859). The opening of the book reads: It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to heaven, we were all going direct the other way . . . A Tale of Two Cities is set in the French Revolution, a period of tumultuous change. The opening quotation demonstrates how, in an era of overt class conﬂict, intense and persistent change can generate paradox and contradiction. This ‘best of times–worst of times’ dichotomy is a useful device for looking at contemporary change in large UK business organizations. The ‘best of times’ adherents, marching under the banner of the ‘high performance work organisation’ (Guest et al., 2000) and the rhetoric of strategic human resource management (HRM), would see employees marching towards the heavenly light of empowerment, autonomy and self-management. The ‘worst of times’ adherents would emphasize that the rhetoric of strategic HRM bears no resemblance...
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