Defining The Meaning Of Change Implementation Business Essay


This essay will look at the defining the meaning of change, its importance and implementation within the organisation and what forces of change, for example the triggers and causes for change. Todays environment is turbulent and fast changing, any organisation that remains static will simply lose their customers, their place against competitors and eventually the organisation will collapse/fail. Thus making change inevitable in any organisational environment, it has been argued that change as always been apart of organisational life however with a cliental base that is constantly moving the goal post in order to get the best products or services at the best price, change management is now a crucial part of any organisation structure. Internal and external forces can act as major drivers for change its how an organisation managers them that are vital.

Change management is seen as the effective application of change processes and tools at every level within an organisation (Jaward, 2009). To look at how we deal with change management effectively today, we must first look at how it was dealt with back in the 18th and 19th Centuries and how it has evolved and used in today's organisation. This essay will also look at the paradigms, models and typologies of change in order to get a better understanding of implementation and also why there is some resistance to change within the organisation environment. Research confirms that almost 60 per cent of all change projects are considered to fail.

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At the end the evaluation will describe the focus needed on the understanding of change, the correct implementation of change management and what could be the outcomes if enforced correctly, and analyse organisational change, structure and theory.

Definitions of change:

Change what does it mean? Meaning to alter something, to make something different, to pass from one phase to another.

Change is a pervasive influence. We are all subject to continual change of one form or another. Change is an inescapable part of both social and organisational life (Mullins, 2005, pg909)

When looking at organisation theory the first type of theory and the earliest is known as Classical Theory which dates back to the 18th and 19th Century. During this time Britain moved from the farming industry (industrial Revolution) into what became the Second Industrial Revolution i.e. technology and economic progress grew dramatically and Britain turned into a money making industry making profit maximisation the main focus within industries. Frederick Winslow Taylor laid the foundations for what is now known as the scientific management. Taylor promoted change as part of achieving efficiency due to better performing of one's task, i.e. a fair days pay for a fair days work. Taylor connected performance to rewards and is fair to say that this is a cornerstone for organisational theory today, and can certainly be seen used in organisations of the 21st Century in forms of bonuses. There are many that criticised Taylor for this approach, Rose (1988) argued that Taylor portrayed humans as 'greedy robots' that are not concerned with boredom, fatigue, loneliness and pain and driven solely by monetary incentive. Allow this can be seen to be true scientific management focuses on the one best way to perform each job.

Max Webber was one of the first German's to speak about bureaucracy mirrored Taylor with his bureaucratic approach. Webber was one of the first theorists to define Power as any relationship within which one person could impose his will, regardless of any resistance from the other. Webber also defined Authority as that, which existed when there was a belief in the legitimacy of that power. Webber also classifies organisations according to their legitimacy and power: Charismatic Authority, Traditional Authority and Rational Legal Authority. Again there have been criticisms with Webbers approach, Robbins (1987) states that bureaucracy can alienate both employees and customers. In 1949 Fayol came up with The Five Management Functions: Planning, Organising, Commanding, Coordinating, Controlling. Gulick then extended these five into seven by adding Reporting and Budgeting. To summarise employees have minimal control within the classical school, working conditions produced psychological as lower class employees performed menial tasks.



Classical School


Scientific Management

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The Individual Perspective School


The Human Relations School (Hawthorn Experiments).


The Group Dynamics School


Bureaucracy (Change through adherence to procedures and policies etc).


Leadership (Differentiated between Theory X and Y Management).


Decision Theory (Employees being able to participate in decision-making an enabler of change).


Socio-technical School (Change introduced through technology and work groups).


Systems Theory (Organisations represented as systems, hard systems and soft systems).


Contingency Theory (Focused on successful change through organisations processes and characteristics of the situation).


Complexity Theory (This is where organisations are viewed as complex adaptive systems).


(Change Management: Types of Change)

The environment is constantly changing, for change to be effective in any form the reasons behind change need to be understood, the reasons for resistance acknowledge and diffused. Change is constantly evolving and will be one of the main focuses of any organisation that wants to succeed in today's market. Organisation change is inevitable today. Environments are changing faster than ever especially within the business world, for any organisation to succeed and get ahead of their competitor there needs to be an effective strategy of change in place and carried out by managers.

There are many factors that create a volatile environment such as the uncertain economic conditions and globalisation which brings with worldwide competition. These two factors are probably the most important and have had the most affect on companies. The credit crunch has seen the rise and fall of many small and large organisations. We are now left with companies fighting to get through the recession changing drastically to keep up with the environment in order to survive. Other forces for change can be technology, competition, world and local politics, social trends and the ever changing nature of the workforce.

Forces of Change



Nature of the workforce

More Cultural diversity

Aging population

Many new entrants with inadequate skills

Increase in professionals


Faster, cheaper and more mobile computers

Online music sharing

Deciphering of the human genetic code

Economic Shocks

Rise and fall of dot-com stocks

2000-2002 stock market collapse

Record low interest rates

Change in oil prices

USA real estate collapse


Global competitors

Mergers and consolidations

Growth of e-commerce

Social Trends

Internet chat rooms

Retirement of baby boomers

Rise in discount and 'big box' retailers

Attitude to smokers

Delayed marriages by young people

World Politics

Iraq-U.S war

Opening markets in china

War on terrorism following 9/11/01

(Robbins, 2009 pg653)

Typologies of Change

Planned Change versus Emergent Change

When one thinks of planned change it implies that the strategy has been consciously embarked upon to reach its desired effect. Planned change is instigated by the organisation and often involves a series of stages and processes. Robbins, (2009, pg 655) describes planned change as change activities that are intentional and goal oriented. Robbins also states that there are normally two goals within planned change, the first is to improve the organisations ability to change and the second goal is said to change the employee behaviour. There are many criticisms of planned change the most valuable being that as change is a continual complex and very unpredictable process. Planned change is normally incremental and can take a period of time to get through all the stages as it is methodical and slow. Planned change is most suitable for stable environments as it aims to improve effectiveness within a group. A planned change strategy is known as an analytical and rational one unlike emergent change strategy. Planned change may not be the correct type of change to use depending on the internal and external factors, for example in the current climate organisations have had to modify and change quickly in order to stay afloat.

Kurt Lewin argued that successful change in organisations should follow three steps. The first step is known as unfreezing the status quo, movement to a desired end state and the third step of refreezing which should make things permanent.

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(Kurt Lewin's change model: How to manage change: Freeze-Unfreeze-Freeze)

John Kottler then built on Lewin's three step model and created a much more in depth and detailed model of eight steps. He began this by listening to common failures that managers make when implementing and initiating change. Some of these failures included the inability to create a sense of urgency about the need for change, in some cases the vision of change was not shared or communicated making it impossible to overcome hurdles. Another failure that Kottler became aware of was that organisations were not providing short term goals and would declare victory to soon without laying the basis of change into an organisations culture (Robbins, Pg661)

(John Kotter's 8-Step Change Process: A Fast Guide from The Leadership Hub)

In order to develop an organisation Robbins (2009, pg663) states that you need the following values:

Respect for People

Trust and Support

Power Equalisation



Robbins describes organisational development as a collection of planned change interventions, built on humanistic-democratic values, that seeks to improve organisation effectiveness and employee well-being. These values tie in with theory from the Human Relations School of the 1920's showing by understanding the feelings and attitudes of employees this will in turn change and influence performance.

Emergent change

This type of change strategy is one that we have seen many organisations use under the pressures of the recent recession as emergent change is one that is suited to turbulent environments. Emergent change concentrates on the transforming an organisation on a continual basis through a number of changes, it is normally a messy or can be termed a shake up within an organisation. Emergent change is most definitely unpredictable and can cause upset within an organisation especially as it undergoes the transformation.

In a journal looking at emergent change and planned change -competitors or allies (The case of XYZ construction, Bernard Burnes), Burnes looks into these strategies at complementary and not competitors. Burnes concludes that organisations should avoid seeking 'the one best way approach' to change, and instead seek to identify the approach which is best suited to both type of changes they wish to undertake, according to the organisation's context.

Ackerman (1997) distinguish between three main types of change developmental, transitional, and transformational. Development change occurs when a company decides to make an improvement to its business. When companies decide to improve their methods processes or performance management this would be considered as developmental change. It can be either planned of emergent. Development change is normally incremental and because of this normally causes little stress for the new employees as long as the reason for change conveyed and employees are educated as to why the change is being implemented.

Radical versus Incremental change:

Radical change can be referred to episodic change or second change. According to Wreick and Quinn (1999) is infrequent, discontinuous and intentional. Radical change often involves replacement of one strategy with another.

Incremental can also be known as continuous change or first order, it is the opposite of radical, meaning that it is ongoing, evolving and cumulative. It means that people will be constantly adapting and editing their ideas. Continuous adjustments made simultaneously across units at a collective level can cause a substantial change (Effecting Change in Higher Education: Types of change).

Establishing the difference between episodic and continuous change helps clarify thinking about an organisation's future development and evolution in relation to its long-term goals. There are only a small number of organisations are in a position to decide unilaterally that they will adopt an exclusively continuous change approach. They can, however, capitalise upon many of the principles of continuous change by engendering the flexibility to accommodate and experiment with everyday contingencies, breakdowns, exceptions, opportunities and unintended consequences that punctuate organisational life (Orlikowski, 1996, Change Management: Types of Change).

These characteristics proposed changes can be placed along two scales: radical - incremental and core - peripheral, plotting the character of a proposed change along these scales can provide a sense of how difficult the introduction of any particular initiative might be. It will also show how much disturbance to the status quo it might generate. Radical changes to an organisation will normally generate high levels of disturbance where as incremental changes to peripheral activities are often considered to be unexceptional and can be accommodated as a matter of course (Change Management: Types of Change 2009).

(Change Management: Types of Change)

Change management is becoming one of the most talked about topics within management. It is important to determine the correct strategy that you want to use for change by having a broad understanding of the different types of change. If this is not established it will put your project of change at an immediate disadvantage. Change can be categorised in many different ways, allow most are related to the extent of the change and whether it is seen as organic (often characterised as bottom up) or driven (top-down) (Change Management-Types of change).

Change Management means to plan, initiate, realise, control, and finally stabilise change processes on both, corporate and personal level. Change management comprises both, revolutionary one-off projects and evolutionary transformations (Managing Change - Definition and Phases in Change Processes). Managing change is defined by making changes in a planned and systemic fashion. The internal and external environment can initiate an organisation to change (Definition of change management article).

There are said to be four basics definitions of Change Management:

1.   The task of managing change (from a reactive or a proactive posture)

2.  An area of professional practice (with considerable variation in competency and skill levels among practitioners)

3.  A body of knowledge (consisting of models, methods, techniques, and other tools)

4.  A control mechanism (consisting of requirements, standards, processes and procedures) (Change Management 101: A Primer).

In many organisations there are change agents that are responsible for making change happen. Change agents can be managers or non managers, current employees of the organisation, newly hired employees, or outside consultants depending on the size of the organisation (Robbins, 2009, pg655). Change agents are persons who act as catalysts within the organisation and assume the responsibility for managing the change activities. Dr Jarret (The seven myths of change management, 2003) states that change agents believe that change can be managed but these assumptions can lead to faulty interventions. He also assumes that the intentions of change agents are well intentioned however the assumptions of traditional approaches to change management present difficulties both internally and externally. Thus the outcomes being uncontrollable and unpredictable, this makes it difficult for the change agent to know best.

Change management can have two different meanings:

1: The making of changes in a planned and managed or systematic fashion

2: The response to changes over which the organisation exercises little or no control over (Managing Change - Definition and Phases in Change Processes).

Crainer states that when it comes to change managers are often reactive and refuse to accept that the necessity of change, he states that change is often and the last resort (Mullins, 2005, pg912).

Resistance To Change

Research confirms that over 60 percent of all change projects will fail. This is mainly down to resistance from individuals within the organisation. Robbins (2009, pg 657) catorgises resistance to change by individual and organisation sourcess. Individual Sources include habit, security, econominc factors, fear of the unknown and selective information processing. Organisational sourcres include structural inertia , limited forcus of change, group inertia, threat to expertise, threat to established power relationships and the threat to established resource allocations. In order for change to be sucessful these forms of resistance need to be dimished. In order to overcome change there are seven tactics that can be used and implemented by change agents. Robbins (2009, pg657) lists these as Education and Communciation, Participation, Building Support and Commitment, Implementing Changes fairly, Manipulation and Cooptation, Selecting People who accept Change, Coercion. Any form of change can be considered as changing what is known as the 'norm' or status quo of the organisational environment. A change in the norm can certainly bring around some sort of politics within an organisation. Robbins (2009, pg659) suggests that this normally comes from change agents and managers that are removed from the main struture and that the resistance mainly comes from the longer termed employees. Other research would show this is correct and hence managers that have been with a organisation over a longer period prefer to implement incremental change rather than radical change.


To conclude this essay has looked at the beginning of change theory through to the latest theory. Even though Taylor's scientific management was one of the first theories it is still present in at a basic level in today's organisation. We have come a long way from Taylorism and organisations are now more concerned with humanistic approaches to change and it has been proven that there is less resistance under this approach. Research has found that organisations tend to look for the 'one best' approach/strategy this however should not be the case organisations should seek the best approach that fits at that point in time. Many changes have been instigated by political, economic and technological reasons since the late 20th Century. Organisations have been tested to the maximum and some have not made it due to the way they have handled the change in the economic climate and we are not left with organisations that have been able to adapt to change quickly and effectively.