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Change and Change management: A Business Essay

  1. Introduction

Change and change management are two common terms used in organizations today. In some instances, it has been noted that they are used interchangeably though they have different meaning. Change is movement from the current position to a future position through a transition state while change management is supporting the individuals affected by the change during the transition state and adapt to the new organizational paradigm (Burnes, 2014, 9-10). The industrial revolution which started in Britain and spread to other parts of the now developed world initiated the scientific management which saw a shift from the traditional way of business to the new approach. It was realized that the traditional management was no longer relevant in achieving the objectives that came as a result of the capitalist economy. Large companies and the governmental institutions started to shift to a better management approach that was viewed as more ideal. In the modern world, change is perceived as a continuous process and both the employers and labour force have to catch up in order to remain competitive in the market.  This synopsis is meant to establish change and how it has evolved with time, how change is managed in an organization, and the challenges that face change and change management. This will be done through review of available literature on the topic of change and managing change.


  • Background information

During the industrial revolution, it was realized that the approaches to labour that were used were not enough to steer companies to the realization of the new goals and objectives. Excessive research was carried by several people who wanted to have the optimum productive of the employees. Leading the pack were Weber, Taylor and Fayol who coined scientific management in the 19th century. Though they were writing form different environments and constraints, the idea was behind the approach and the proponents were the same. Classical approach as is commonly referred to changed the whole perception on labour and that organizations were just made of individuals. It came into being as managers realized that the methods used then were inconsistent to responding to new challenges and opportunities. However, the classical approach soon became obsolete. Critics argued that it was limited to a single dimension of the human motivation (Burnes, 2009, 15-30: 2014, 15).

The classical approach began to face opposition both at an intellectual and practical level in the 1930s. Human needs were viewed as dynamic and money was not the only thing that gave motivation to the labour force. This bore the human relationship approach which was the new paradigm that companies and individual were required to adopt. As expected, it faced opposition from the traditionalists who viewed it a radical system to the already established code of operation (Burnes, 2014, 33-40). A new approach come into being, the contingency theory, which viewed organizations as open ended system each having a unique way that works best for it. It was favoured since it came at a time when technology was increasingly finding applications and being incorporated into management. Many viewed a simple approach to understand compared to the previously developed ways. A company will have good performance if it adopts a structure than aligns their environment, technology and size (Burnes, 2014 74-80).


  • Research questions
  1. What is change and change management as used in the business organizations and governmental institutions?
  2. How has the approach to change and change managed evolved since the dawn of the new thought during the industrial revolutions?
  • What are the barriers to change and what are the mandates given to the management team during the execution of the different strategies?


  1. Literature review

Competition and globalisation are constantly increasing in the modern world hence change management becoming increasingly important. A systematic view of change management has been proposed that provides a characterization of change management from the viewpoint of modernism. The approach to changes should be logical and executed in an orderly manner and takes it classification and relationships as alternatives to managing change. The systematic view has three approaches to change management; modernism, post modernism and structuration, which all provide a framework for the developing and an improved understanding of the problem situation which is characterized by diversity and interactions of the organizational change (Cao & McHugh, 2005, 480-488). Managing change is one of the critical parts during the implementation of the new strategies that will make the organization remain relevant in the otherwise competitive markets (Burnes, 2009, 188).

There are several reasons why organizations opt to adopting a new system or structure of doing business. Whether for corrective measures, matching up with the prevailing market trends or even for steering the company ahead, the management at one time will have to make the some decisions that alter the normal approach of doing business (Porras and Silver, 1991, 51). Both the internal and external environments significantly influence how businesses operate and the changes that they can make. Organizational politics, power and culture have significant influence on the process of change since they are key factors to the final decision and implementation process (Burnes, 2009, 250).

The magnitude of change varies which demand different action to be taken by those in authority. Change or success does not require people to do dramatic action but just ordinary things done by the ordinary people in a competent way. Managers have the ability to influence on the course of events and steer people to achieving the desired goals and objectives. In the same way, they are able to lead the subordinate staff into adopting the new set rules and guidelines that are deemed necessarily by the change. Understanding the group dynamics is very vital while dealing with change. In any society, there are the ring leader and the less subtle section that tend to follow the majority side.  Discovering these connections is very vital since the reception of the new ideology, structure or technology will be greatly influenced by these forces within the organization (March, 1981, 563-577).

To have a better approach to the change management, the change process has been characterised as either planned or emergent. The planned change approach was developed prior to the 1980’s(Porras and Silver, 1991, 52-55). According to Lewis Kurt, planned change aims at resolving conflicts by bringing together the various parties; managers, employees and change consultants. During the planned change process, self esteem and performance are significantly affected. The coping cycle was developed to show how people in an organization responded to the implementation of the planned changes. In the initial stages, there is a lot of denial which is followed by defence as people feel threatened by the new approach. The management and the organization as whole then enter the discarding stage where the traditional ways are dropped, adaptation and finally internalization of the changes. This method has been categorically being called the three steps model which include unfreezing, moving and refreezing. It relation to the five stage and effects on both performance and self esteem are shown below.


Figure 1: Relation between the five stages and the three steps model (Adopted from Burnes, 2009, 340)

Emergent change approach counteracts the proposition that there are universally accepted rules for change as proposed by the planned approach method. Rather, it outlines five determinants that affect the success levels of change. Organizational structure, organizational culture, organizational learning, power politics and managerial behaviour are listed as the key factors that should be given considerations while managing change. Change is achieved when all the people actions are linked at all levels of business. Some scholars, however, have proposed some flexible and general guidelines that should be followed under this method. The proponents of this approach argue that the operating environment is changing rapidly, radically and in a very unpredictable manner.  The internal environment is thus forced to have continuous change so that it matches with the trends in the market (Burnes, 2008, 380-410).


  1. Discussion
    • Managing change

The day’s approach and the general views are constantly changing hence the need to adopt the newer systems which lead to a better realization of the set objectives and goals. Dealing with the change is the most challenging part since people are generally resistance and comfortable with the existing methodologies. It has been noted that for people to be more accepting, the end results should be in their favour. Over the last century, there has been varying approaches that companies have used in executions of their mandates. However, it has been pointed out that there has always been a rift between the approaches used by the different parties involved. It becomes crucial that those in power have the know-how on how to deal with the system (individuals) as they undergo through the transition stage and employ the new set code of action. If this is not taken into account, rift and strife will be prominent which will further hinder the process of changes. Understanding change and change management become crucial in order to be in a position to fit in into the new system.


  • Barriers to change

To overcome the resistance to change, one should first understand the cause (Peter & Kaeufer, 2000, 1). Several qualitative researches have been done to establish the core issues that impede the process of change. Though done by different authors the core issues that influence how the individuals involved accept or reject change were found to be almost identical (Dent & Goldberg, 1999, 28). Peter & Kaeufer (Peter & Kaeufer, 2000, 2) points out that the failure to trust when it matters limits many change initiatives. Some of the key reasons why individuals and organizations resist change include misunderstandings, emotional side effects, lack of trust, fear of failure, personality conflict, uncertainty, fear of outcome, poor training, threat to job and breaking of work group. The weight given to the above factor varies as per individual and the context of application. It is worth noting that throughout the different managerial approaches that have been in force, the factors for the resistance to change have been consistency (Dent & Goldberg, 1999, 28).


  • Challenging resistance to change

As much as change is expected in any system, people are not always receptive of the new organizational paradigm and in many cases tend to cling on the old methods. The term resistance to change appeared in the 1950’s as authors tried to explain the methods can be used to have a smooth transition. Several authors through research works, speeches and even films in the 1950’s proposed methods that can be used to overcome the resistance to change. They argued that whether it is an administrative, technological or structural change, they will all face some resistance since the problem was psychological at an individual level. Resistance to change is a normal phenomenon that should be expected in any organization. It can be frustrating to managers if their efforts are not implemented by the subordinate staff.  It was shown that the management need to draft some strategies which would help implement the new development and managerial approaches (Dent & Goldberg, 1999, 33-35).

The methods that were proposed to be ideal in overcoming change included education, participation by the affected parties, discussion, financial benefit, discussion, facilitation and negotiation and political support (Dent & Goldberg, 1999, 28). In this case, it is assumed the resistance to change is more of a psychological problem and to overcome it, one needs to change the mindset of the affected individuals and make them more receptive. Alternatives to this psychological approach, strategies for overcoming change are offered regardless of the intended change. Changes can results to certain negative effects such as loss of status by employees. However, these difficult situations should not be labelled as resistance to change that that perception will further impeded the process of change (Dent & Goldberg, 1999, 28).


  • The process of change in an organization

Changes can be termed as episodic or continuous (Quinn & Weick, 1999, 362). Episodic change describes organizational changes that are infrequent, discontinuous, and unintentional while continuous changes is used to group together the organizational changes that are cumulative, evolving and tend to be ongoing (Nutt & Backoff, 1996, 333-340, (Burnes, 2009, 460). Several management practitioners and authors had come up with different approaches to the change process and common cycle that are undertaken for both continuous and episodic change. For example, Mintzberg & Wetsley (1992, 39-59) wrote about detailed cycles of organizational change and how they affect they are affected by internal and external environment of the organization. It is agreeable that the organization should set the right framework for change to be effective. The range of situations that are faced determine to the right approach that should be followed (Burnes, 2009, 432; 2014, 307-8).

The change process can viewed as a triangle with people, objectives/outcomes and planning forming the edges. The process begins with establishing a team that will be involved in planning the change and setting the objectives and the intended outcomes. The people within the organizational are then informed of the new strategy and its implementation process. It is the responsibility f the team to monitor the progress and issue corrective measures to align the progress to the set goals (Burnes, 2009, 460-465).

The driving force behind the change of organizations has been a central and enduring quest by scholars and practitioners in the field of management. It has proved to be hard to find the sequence of events that lead to the unfolding of the events of change. Several theories such as the evolutionary and teleology (Van Den Ven & Poole, 1995, 522) have been developed in attempt to explain the cycles and motor of change. It is the responsibility of the management to steer the organization in achieving the desired change. One of the key problems that the management are facing today is the effects of globalization. The unified market has brought a new edge in sustainability, workforce diversity and business ethics (Hage, 2006, 598-622)

The management is therefore required to devise new ways of approach to and implementation of change (Burnes, 2009, 495-500). They are expected to adapt or shift managerial roles since each single decision they make as far reaching effects and profound implications on within the organization and even in the society. A clear line should be drawn between the role and responsibilities of a manager and a leader and managers meant to understand when and how to act (Burnes, 2014, 430-1).


  1. Conclusion

Change has been described as an inevitable process whether at a personal level or in organization. Since the onset of the industrial revolution, there have been drastic changes in business process as the management of various organizations and corporations try to remain equally competitive in the otherwise stiff market. It has seen the emergence of newer theories and management approaches which were then replaced by newer methods and strategies while in search of the ultimate solution. The systems have been known to be very opposing to changes despite the positive outcome. Individuals as well as the top management have rejected changes that they termed as not in their favour or against their beliefs. This has resulted to a new genre of management that deals with specially managing the change and the change process.


  1. References
  2. Burnes, B. (2009). Managing Change. Harlow: Pearson Educational Publishers.
  3. Burnes, B. (2014). Managing Change (Sixth ed.). Pearson Educational Publishers.
  4. Cao, G., & McHugh, M. (2005). A S ystemic View of Change Management and Its Conceptual Underpinnings. Systemic Practice and Action Research , 18 (5), 475-491.
  5. Dent, E., & Goldberg, S. (1999). Challenging Resistance to Change. THE JOURNAL OF APPLIED BEHAVIORAL SCIENCE , 35 (1), 25-26.
  6. Frances, W., & Henry, M. (1992). Cycles of Organizational Change. Strategic Management Journal , 13, 39-59.
  7. Hage, J. T. (2006). Organizational Innovation and Organizational Change . Annual Review of Sociology , 25, 597-622.
  8. March, J. (1981). Footnotes to Organizational Change. Administrative Science Quarterly , 26 (4), 563-577.
  9. Nutt, P., & Backoff, R. (1996). Fashioning and Sustaining Strategic Change in in Public Organizations . Public Productivty & Management Review , 19 (4), 331-337.
  10. Peter, S., & Kaeufer, K. (2000, October 04). Creating Change. Execurive Excellence , 2.
  11. Porras, J., & Silver, R. (1991). Organizational Development and Transformation. Annual Review. Psychol , 42, 51-78.
  12. Quinn, R., & Weick, K. (1999). ORGANIZATIONAL CHANGE AND DEVELOPMENT. Review Pyscho. , 50, 361-386.
  13. VAn De Ven, A., & POOLE, M. S. (1995). EXPLAINING DEVELOPMENT AND CHANGE IN ORGANIZATIONS. The Academy of Management Review , 20 (3), 510-540.


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