Case Study of Organizational Culture and Change in Spotswood


This essay would analyse the case study Spotswood on the perspective of Organizational culture, change, power and politics in an organisation. Before an in-depth analysis of the case study, some views of renowned writers will be looked at on their perspective of organizational culture, change, power and politics in an organization.

1.1 Brief Story of the Film

We have shed lights about the tools this essay would use to analyse the case study but the essay is not complete without introducing our case, Spotswood is about a moccasin factory that is on the verge of bankruptcy and the sole owner of the business has just brought a consultant in to assess the situation at hand and give his managerial advice. Our case study would be further discussed using the concept, change, power and politics.

2.0 BODY


(Weick, 1995). Change is a situation that interrupts normal patterns of organization and calls for participants to enact new patterns, involving interplay of deliberate and emergent processes that can be highly ambiguous. In this ever dynamic environment which the world has become, it would be very unwise for an organization to carry on doing things the same way, this means every organization always has to change their ways of doing things

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Change in most cases have been seen as a response to external environments (Barr, Stimpert and Huff, 1992) but this is not particularly so, Vermeulen, Freek (2010) 'says change is needed when innovations decline' This shows that Change can also come about from an internal drive to do so, Change can be used to stop routines, bring up innovations and also good for restructuring, Huczynski & Buichanan (2007) gives various reason for change is drawn in the table below.



Changes in sociocultural values

New products and service design innovations

New Technology

Low performance morale

New materials

High stress and staff turnover

Change in customer requirements and change


Competitor activity

Inadequate skills knowledge base


Office/factory relocation

Changing domestic and global conditions

Innovations in the manufacturing process

Political shifts

New ideas on how to deliver service to customers

Adapted from Huczynski & Buichanan (2007)

In the case of Spotswood The Balls factory trigger for change which was internal because it was caused by the introduction of a consultant in person of Mr. Wallace who was not satisfied with the way the factory was been run came in as the change agent, Buchanan, David (1999)The change agent is defined as any individual seeking to reconfigure an organization's roles, responsibilities though the external factors for change might have not been glaring in our case . From the internal perspective it is clear that The Balls factory needed a change due to the fact that innovation was lacking. Vermeulen, Freek (2010) 'says change is needed when innovations decline'.

For the fact that a need for change is noticed it doesn't mean it would be carried out in the right manner Kotter (1995) highlighted some step guides and simple recipes and they are stated below

Establish a sense of urgency

Form a guiding coalition

Create a vision

Communicate the vision

Empower people to act on the vision

Create short term wins

Consolidate improvements to produce further change

Institutionalize new approaches

Colin A. Carnall (2007) If people understand what is to be achieved, why, how and by whom it would help in achieving desired change. In The Balls factory Mr Wallace wanted a change but he did not institute change in the way the employees would feel change is necessary, the workers never felt a sense of urgency, there was no vision for them to work with to know the direction the factory was heading.

Beer & Nohria's(2000) change theory E & O would also be used to analyse the case, they believed that there are different dimension to change Studying these theory critically would show that the hard and combined theory were evident in the case, Mr Wallace approach to the change at the factory in the beginning was the hard pattern (Theory E) he was just about maximizing profit for the owner, he could not see pass the dollar$ and the cents, Mr Wallace the change agent also had to go through a change to know that there is another way to managing the crisis at the bulls factory which is the combined theory of change which is also stated above this is explained further in the table below

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Dimensions of change

Theory E


Theory O



E & O


Maximise shareholder value

Develop organisational capabilities

Explicitly embrace the paradox between economic value and organisational capability


Manage change from top down

Encourage participation from bottom up

Set direction from the top and engage people below


Emphasis structure and system

Build up corporate culture: employee behaviour/attitude

Focus simultaneously on the hard (structures and systems) and the soft corporate culture)


Plan/establish programmes

Experiment and evolve

Plan for spontaneity

Reward System

Motivate through financial incentives

Motivate through commitment (pay as fair exchange)

Use incentives to reinforce change but not drive it

Use Of Consultants

Consultants analyse problems/shape solutions

Consultants support management in shaping solutions

Consultants are expert employees who empower employees


It is somewhat possible to change the way people do things without them reacting to the change, (Cobb et al., 1995). How people are treated and how the change is implemented can have considerable influence on employees' resistance to change. This brings us to the word resistance. Watson (1982) as cited by Piderit, Sandy Kristin (2000) "The most prevalent way of analysing resistance is to see it as a reactive process where agents embedded in power relations actively oppose initiatives by other agents" People resist change if they don't know the what, why and how a change would be carried out, In our case two factories handled change in different ways. People can actively or passively resist change. In the dormacks factory there was big rioting which shows an active way of resisting to change while in the case of bulls factory the people accepted the change verbally and failed to implement the change, this is seen as a case of passive resistance. Employees passive resistance to change is the most common one we see in present day Organizations.

As a contrast to what most writers feel about resistance. Ford, Jeffrey D. (2009) sees resistance to change has a feedback, He explains that most managers just expect resistance and have failed to realise that resistance can be used to plan organizational change better.

True leaders listen to their critic

Resistance can be used as a resource

Change the change

Build participation and engagement

Complete the past

2.2 CULTURE-(Morgan 1997) defined Organizational culture as the set of beliefs, values and norms, together with symbols like dramatized events and personalities that represents the unique character of an Organization and provides the context for action in it and by it. Understanding the topic organizational culture would make you easily understand why organizations act in various ways.

Culture as often been studied at the surface, people tend to think culture can be learned or developed but culture is actually very abstract but its implications are very strong, Understanding culture would make u discern why organization behave in certain ways. (Schein 2004) defined culture as a pattern of shared basic assumptions that was learned by a group as it solved it and internal integration, problem of external adaptation that has worked well enough to be considered valid and therefore taught to new members as as the correct way to perceive, think and feel in relation to those problem.

Schein's concept of culture has its critic Collins (1998), critiqued Schein's concept of "culture" as reserved for deeper levels of basic assumptions and beliefs that are either taken for granted or unconscious. He said in particular that Schein locates culture not in a place, but in (pre) linguistic, unconscious, mental phenomena.

Scholars from the strategic management field says organizational culture has been ill defined , the father of the Resource based view Jay Barney as cited by Grant (2005) identifies Organizational culture as a firm resource of great strategic importance that is very valuable. Every good idea has its critics, This essay would overlook these critic's and talk of culture on Schein's perspective.

Schein states that culture is to group what character is to an individual, this means that culture is the character of a group. The major problem of understanding culture was because cultures were not differentiated into levels of visible culture and the invisible but which can be called the essence of culture, To understand culture better in our case study Scheins's(2004) level of cultural analysis would be used.

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Looking at the table we can use all this levels to discern the level of culture in our case study,

Artefacts - this are the physical environment that can easily be observed in an organisation e.g dress code, office layout etc. Scheins's (2004) Artefacts can be easily observed but they are very hard to interpret, unless you spend more time in an organisation, Mr. Wallace could easily notice workers were wearing moccasin but could actually not really interpret why they were all putting on moccasins. This shows our noticeable culture can be observed through artefacts but also how difficult it could be used to understand culture

Espoused Beliefs and Values- This explains the philosophy, goals, strategies that a an individual or a group of people adopt, the Espoused beliefs and values always mould the artefacts, In the bulls factory the owner Mr bulls had a philosophy of treating employees with respect and even when business was bad he believed that this people were is greatest assets while Mr Wallace philosophy was all about profit making and sees employees as tools of achieving that.

Basic Underlying Assumptions-When a way of doing things have been tested over time it becomes an assumption by this way if u study a group of people with a particular assumption you would find little or no variation in their belief or way of doing things, People in this group would generally think that there is no other way of behaving or doing things e.g. A business man assumption is that business is meant for profit making any other assumption apart from that would be difficult for him to absorb. In bulls factory the factory workers had an assumption of the way work should be done and they never thought of any other way of working then came Mr Wallace with his own belief of how work is supposed to be done, Mr Wallace new no order way of working and he was so surprised to see people working in such manner Douglas(1986) 'says we will be maximally comfortable with people who share the same set of assumptions and very uncomfortable and vulnerable in situation where different assumptions operate, because either we will not understand what is going on or worse we will misperceive and misinterpret the actions of others,.


In various sentences or statements you would have heard statements like the thirst for power. In an Organization, power which is a measure of an ability to control their environment is very important. (Robert et al., 1998) defined power as the ability of one social unit to influence the behaviour of another social unit and to achieve their preferred situations or outcome. (Ferris et al., p. 127) defines politics as the ability to effectively understand others at work, and to use such knowledge to influence others to act in ways that will enhance one's personal and/or organizational objectives

Power is making someone or a group of people do what they would not have done otherwise, Power can be gained through various forms and they include Availability to information, skills and expertise, contacts and social alliances. There have been different dimensions of power which is the unitary, pluralist, structural and the relational view of power. For the purpose of this essay we would only be discussing on the relational view of power which is one of the recent view.

The relational view of power is against the fact that power has only been looked at from the perspective of the person exercising it, The relational view of power believes that if A can make B do something he would not have done otherwise, It is quite likely that B for his part is capable of making A do something he would not have done without B's intervention.(Crozier 1973,p.214). This view draws is work from French and raven (1958) who claimed that there are five bases of power which are

Reward power

Coercive power

Referent power

Legitimate power

Expert power

Power bases is depends on how others perceive it. In the case it was so obvious that Mr Wallace was perceived to have power which was based on legitimacy and expertise , Legitimate power is been perceived when others think someone has power to exercise authority within the position he or she occupies while expertise power is been perceived when others see an individual as someone who has solution to problems. Mr Wallace was seen to have power that was invested on him power by the owner of the factory and was also perceived has powerful because he was seen to have knowledge and solutions to problems.

Politics in Organization exist but is often avoided, Jo Silvester as cited by Pfeffer,Jeffrey (2010)Politics is mostly seen as the dark side of an Organization but it is not totally so, Organizational politics defined by Allen et al., 1979 p.77)is the acts of influence to enhance or protect the self interest of individuals or groups belief about politics is that it is only used for self interest, This doesn't also sound totally true in the fact Politics is also needed in an organization to push the best of ideas that is of benefit to the organization. A more encompassing definition that supports the clam that politics can be used in a right manner is that of (Ferris et al., p. 127) that politics is the ability to effectively understand others at work, and to use such knowledge to influence others to act in ways that will enhance one's personal and/or organizational objectives.

For the essence of the case situations where politics were used for self interest and also for the good of the organisation would be pointed out. Kim's after office hour meeting with Mr Wallace could be seen as a political act of self interest, Also Mr Wallace's partner's manipulation of the union of dormacks is also an act of politics of self interest, Too much of people with this kind of political behaviour is dangerous to the organisations objectives. Mr Wallace also played politics on behalf of the factory when he allowed Kim move to the consultancy firm Pfeiffer, Jeffrey (2010) in his journal power play explains that a better way to deal with a rival is to Remove rivals-nicely and this was what Mr Wallace did to get rid of Kim because all his plans run contrary to that of the factory


This essay has studied organisation in the context of change, culture, power and politics, Its been noticed that all this three part of an organisation are linked and to be an effective manager must be vast in all this aspects. This linkage would be discussed further below.


In the real world these three aspects of an organisation work interchangeably, It is impossible to enact a change without using power and politics Schon (1963) as cited by Buchanan, David (1999) argues that "champions of change " can expect to encounter resistance to new ideas, and that political behaviour is by implication desirable, Also to change particular ways people in an organisation do things also means changing either part or the whole culture. Schein (1992) argues that as culture becomes entrenched in an organisation, it gradually loses its flexibility therefore becoming a hindrance to the organisation's change and success. For change to be successful by a change agent, the change agent must first study and understand the culture, use power and politics to make them buy the reason for the change before actually implementing the change.