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An investigation into the introduction of planned organisational change : theoretical and empirical considerations

This thesis aims to go beyond the traditional approaches to the management of change and to offer new ways of conceptualising the implementation of planned organisational change. The form in which the conceptualisations are presented is that of narrative sense making. Conceptualisations are linked to concrete contexts of action, thus constituting a theory at the substantive level. The latest concrete manifestations of planned organisational change, TQM (total quality management) and BPR (business process reengineering), are investigated at both the theoretical and empirical level. The empirical investigation examines the introduction of change programmes based on the TQM and BPR constructs in two large British manufacturing companies. The research is underpinned by the broad question: "What happens during the introduction of planned change in a large organisation where strategies and structures have been long established?" Further questions that will be addressed to build up an answer to this broad research question are: What do abstract change constructs such as TQM and BPR mean in a concrete organisational context? How do these constructs become institutionalised in a particular organisation? What are the main causal processes that can be identified in the implementation of a change programme? How do these causal influences interact and what influence do they exert over time? It will be argued that management innovations such as TQM and BPR do not constitute a cut-and-dried reality but have to be enacted by managers in order to become "real" in a particular organisation. This enactment will be based on choices not only based on the underlying rules of the programme but also on the rules governing behaviour in the managers' particular organisation. An obvious point perhaps, but one that is consistently ignored in much of the popular change literature. Many different meanings will be shown to surround the issues, events, and outcomes relating to the change programmes as the enactment process is neglected during the institutionalisation process. Van de Ven and Poole's framework for studying organisational change forms the template for my causal analysis of planned organisational change. Forces impacting on the change programme that can be identified from outside the organisation emanate from the environmental, the political, the immediate and wider social context. In addition, the popular change literature with its particular logic (the bearers of which are management consultants) can be conceptualised as a major causal influence since it governs actions of senior managers in a very direct way. Existing cultural rules and departmental structures, and the historical experiences concerning organisational change constitute important internal causal forces. Furthermore, attention will be paid to the causal importance of "reason explanations" of managers involved in the research. Various causal mechanisms will be seen to exercise different influences at different moments in time. The contribution of this thesis is to provide or renew the conceptual vocabulary allowing managers to understand better and act upon about the multiple dimensions of planned organisational change. However, the manner in which the conceptualisations will be used is contingent upon specific contexts in which managers find themselves. They have to be related to the practical knowledge of the managers concerned.
Date January 1996
CreatorsDe Cock, Christian
PublisherUniversity of Manchester
Source SetsEthos UK
Detected LanguageEnglish
TypeElectronic Thesis or Dissertation

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