Strategic Organizational Change: the Role of

Topics: Management, Change management, Organizational studies and human resource management Pages: 28 (8907 words) Published: August 8, 2010
Strategic organizational change: the role of leadership, learning, motivation and productivity Steven H. Appelbaum Faculty of Commerce and Administration, Concordia University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada Normand St-Pierre Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, Montreal, Quebec, Canada William Glavas Pratt and Whitney Canada, Montreal, Quebec, Canada Presents an overview of strategic organizational change (SOC) and its managerial impact on leadership, learning, motivation and productivity. Theoretical and empirical data presented are: the sources and determinants of strategic organizational change; the management implications of SOC; organizational leadership within the context of SOC; learning aspects of SOC; the impact of SOC on organizational and individual productivity; a model that explains the relationships between SOC, leadership, learning, motivation and productivity. Depicts strategic organizational change as an integrative process with all organizational elements such as human resources, systems and technologies being considered for successful change to occur. The proposed model for strategic organizational change is an attempt to link the software and hardware components of organizations. In view of the pressures being expected from the external environment and the critical vision of organizations, research suggests that top management needs to establish a flexible and adaptive infrastructure that should lead contemporary and complex organizations to optimum levels of performance. The largest barrier to “change” is not changes to technologies and work processes but changes involving people.

For centuries philosophers have struggled with definitions of “change”, …To the ancient Greeks… tampering with the basic character of things – was, if not actually blasphemy, a sure path to disaster … In modern Western culture, “change” is a more malleable notion, a means to bend fate to one’s ends… (Kanter et al., 1992).

Critical determinants of organizational success and failure
The features of organizations that make for success are not always the same ones that lead to failure. Based on reports generated by professional consultants, it is possible to identify the specific factors that contribute most to success and failure. It is also possible to classify these factors as primarily environmental, structural, or management-oriented (Vecchio and Appelbaum, 1995). Although a successful organization need not possess all of the positive attributes, most successful organizations show more positive than negative attributes. Successful organizations tend to focus on customers and their needs. They invest in ways to improve sales and provide superior service to clients, and they do not forget that their customers and their customers’ needs underlie their organization’s existence. Successful organizations also adapt their structures to the needs of their missions. At the department level, controls may be simultaneously loose, in that managers have autonomy, and tight, insofar as specific performance goals may be set. Highly successful organizations often maintain a simple but appropriate structure that employs an adequate number of staff; they avoid empire building and padding with surplus staff. Also, entrepreneurship is encouraged within the divisions of the organization by rewarding successful innovation and encouraging risk taking (Vecchio and Appelbaum, 1995). A major management feature that can lead to success is a deliberate bias toward implementing solutions to problems. Management discourages “paralysis through analysis” of alternatives, and, instead, emphasizes satisficing action that ensures goal attainment. Another management feature in successful firms is a commitment to the organization’s original arena of expertise. This is called “sticking to one’s knitting”. It involves staying close to what the organization knows how

Management Decision 36/5 [1998] 289–301 © MCB University Press [ISSN 0025-1747]


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Steven H. Appelbaum, Normand St-Pierre and William Glavas Strategic organizational change: the role of leadership, learning, motivation and productivity Management Decision 36/5 [1998] 289–301
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Application questions
1 Would you agree with the author that the largest barrier to change is people, not technology and work processes? 2 If planned change is the key to organization success, should people hold a defined change planning role?
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