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External and Internal Factos that Cause Organisational Change

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Organisations
Wordcount: 2284 words Published: 8th Feb 2020

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“Organisations face change because external and internal factors create the forces for change”.

(Robbins and Coulter, 2018 p.214)



In this essay I will, research and discuss a range of external and internal forces that compel organisations to engage in organisational change. The first part of this essay will focus on the background to Organisational Change and what influences change to occur throughout an organisation, furthermore I will discuss the theatrical background of Organisational Change through the work of German Psychologist, Kurt Lewin. I will also use real life examples of how business have undertaken organisational change and will discuss how this has had an influence on businesses and how managers can run their business from the change that will occurred. The second part of this essay will focus on the internal and external factors specifically and how these change forces can influence an organisation to completely change the business structure to how the organisation operates. Finally, I will provide a conclusion to support the points that I have made, and I will come to decision if “Organisations face change because external and internal factors create the forces for change”.

What is Organisational Change?

Organisational change can be defined as “A structured process in which an organisation shifts from its current state to some specific desired future state to improve the effectiveness of the organisation” (J. Bratton, 2016, P.479). For this change to occur in a successful manor there must be “someone to act as a catalyst and assume the responsibility for managing the change process- that is, a change agent” (SP. Robbins and M. Coulter,2009, P.277). Therefore, the change agent will be the person who will ensure that any change that an organisation will face will operate in a successful smooth manor. An example of change can be seen through Dr. George Saleh who changed his medical practice from a completely paper-based system to an all computerised system. After a few months of this practice Dr. George found the system far more practical as he was able to see the same number of patients in the same amount of time thus saving him and his team more time to focus on more work. Furthermore, the biggest asset to having changed his medical practice was being able to access his patent files from home or the office as he was able to search his client database and see what medications that each person should be on, he stated; the new system “made me a better doctor, it has changed the way I work every day” (SP. Robbins and M. Coulter,2009, P.279).Therefore, through this example we can see how no matter how big or small the change, organisational change has the effect to create the force of change through new and upgraded technology thus enhancing the field of professional work.

One of the main contributors to the idea of change was the German Psychologist, Kurt Lewin with his three-step model and the white-waters rapids metaphor.  “According to Lewin, successful change can be planned and requires unfreezing the status quo, changing to a new state, and refreezing to make the change permanent.” (SP. Robbins and M. Coulter,2009, P275).

Within the three-step model this consists of three stages, Unfreezing the status quo, Changing the status quo and Refreezing to make the change permanent. The unfreezing is thought of as getting the organisation ready for change to occur, this is the time where the management team would talk to the team and discuss that change is going to occur and managers would have to start “driving forces, which are forces pushing for change, by decreasing the restraining forces, which are forces which are resisting the change”. The next step is to change the status quo, this step is simply to implement the change process within the organisation as the ‘status quo’, the way of operating, is changing to suit the change process. Next, the stage of refreezing occurs, this is a process of making the change within an organisation permanent so that it can be sustained over a period. This is one of the important stages of the three-step model as if the change is not implemented in a successful manner then there is no real chance that the member of staff will follow the change and the employees may revert to the old ways of operating within an organisation. (SP. Robbins and M. Coulter,2009, P276)

Lewin’s next metaphor to describe the change process model was the White-Waters rapids metaphor. This is the lack of environmental stability and predictability, you do not know what will happen between one day of business operations and another. Susan Whiting, the CEO of Nielsen Media research, referred to the White-Waters metaphor as the fact that “all exams are unannounced, so you do have to be prepared for a class test at all times- to succeed in this type of environment you have to respond quickly to changing conditions.” (SP. Robbins and M. Coulter, 2009, P276). Therefore we can see how this metaphor would show that the white-water rapids is about incremental change, day by day, small piece at a time change;  therefore it would make it easier for managers to handle change as it would be in bite size chunks and simpler for the employees to take in.

External and Internal Factors of Organisational Change

Within the idea of organizational change, it is said “Organisations encounter many external and internal forces that act as a stimulants or triggers for change” (J. Bratton, 2016, P.481). This was exactly what happened to Nokia in the 1980’s as the external factor, “Factors and forces outside an organisation that affects the organisations performance” (SP. Robbins and M. Coulter,2009, P73) of Changing of consumer wants and needs had a massive change in the company. During the 1980’s everyone had a Nokia phone and as time moves along so does the consumers needs and as technology moved on so did other mobile phone companies like Samsung and Apple who then came into the market and dominated it with new touchscreen technology and Nokia “had dismissed touchscreens as a gimmick that used too much battery”. This caused Nokia to lose their market share as they did not keep up to date with the consumer wants and needs of the touchscreen phone causing the company to sell brand to Microsoft in 2014. During their peak Nokia was valued at $300 Billion due to the high standard that they provided in their mobile phones and it was what the customers wanted, but as time moved on and there was no change this caused Nokia to sell the company for $350 Million (Wollaston,2018). This is almost a loss of -99.9883% for Nokia, therefore proving that if you do not keep up to date with competition and consumers wants and needs then your company will fails and ultimately stop business operations altogether.

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On the other hand, in comparison to the external factors we have the Internal factors which are, “A myriad of internal micro-forces which drive change within an organisation” (J. Bratton, 2016, P.484). Therefore, since Internal factors occur within an organisation it could be said that an internal factor for change could be a change in the composition of the workforce of an organisation. This could be beneficial for any business who is looking to reduce the number of employees that they have as they would be able to save money and therefore you could outsource to call centers to a different labor force, for example people working from home. This is what the Chinese travel company Ctrip allowed some of their workers to work from home on a regular basis and in comparison, to the productivity of the in-office workers the workers from home ended up “making 13.5% more calls which is equal to almost a full extra day’s work in a week” (Alton,2017). This shows us that a change in the composition of Ctrips workforce was beneficial for the company as the employees were motivated in their own home comforts in comparison to the employees who worked in an office being distracted with co-workers, conference calls or mangers delegating more tasks, therefore we can see how the internal factors of having a new organisational strategy and a change in the workforces composition had a major effect on business operations; thus proving that Organisations face change because internal and external factors create the forces for change.

Throughout the world we have seen the major influence and enhancement that robotics has on the work place and ultimately is improving the skills and time wasted within an industry through bringing a sufficient work speed and rate to the organisations. This is clear through the example of the brick-laying robot, SAM (Semi-automated Mason) who is capable of laying 3,000 brick per day, compared to a human who would lay around 500 bricks per day, thus the robot is working at a 500% higher rate than the average human. (C. Reedy,2017). Therefore, we can see that with the external factor of changing technology robotics could change the world of work as we know it through having an automated machine who can work without breaks, holiday or sick leave, so why wouldn’t the idea of a robot in their work place appeal to any manager? A 2013 study carried out by the University of Oxford found that 47% of jobs in the USA are under threat of automation in the next two decades; for example, one of the most vulnerable that the study found was that a bicycle person has a 94% probability that their job will be automated within the next two decades. (T. Walsh,2017).  This is due to the fact that technology is improving at a high rate and with that is going to be the loss of easy manual work, like a bicycle repair person as the repair could be done much faster and efficiently by a robot compared to a human who may take a day or two to repair the product. Therefore, this proves to us that through the external force for change, changing technology, does have the ability to compel organisations to engage in organisational change as one way or other a business will have to change the technology within the company to stay in competition with other similar companies.


To conclude, I will come to a final decision as a whole on the idea of the question if “Organisations face change because external and internal factors create the forces for change”. Throughout this essay I have discussed what exactly Organisational Change is, providing a definition and examples relating to the topic as a whole. Also, I provided information relating to the theatrical background to the concept of Organisational Change in the work of Kurt Lewin and his models and metaphors used to describe the change process. Furthermore, I have described the External and Internal forces for change, applying specific examples to apply to each force described. Therefore, from ideas discussed and the point of other academics I would agree with the statement that Organisations do face change because external and internal factors create the forces for change within an organisation.

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