Transitional and Transformational Change

Topics: Change management, Management, Organization Pages: 3 (834 words) Published: July 19, 2010
Question: Discuss the difference between transitional and transformational change.

Change is inevitable in an organization. Change in social systems, in particular the formal organization, may be defined as a planned or unplanned response to pressures and forces from the natural environment and mostly the activities of people. Managers are constantly challenged to respond to threats and opportunities in their organization’s environment. In order to meet these challenges, they must often change, adapt or even completely transform their organizations. To manage these organizational changes, theorists have found it necessary to categorize change. The three types of changes that occur most frequently in organizations are developmental, transitional and transformational.

Early theorist such as Kurt Lewin offered another explanation of change. He described change as a three stage process of unfreezing the existing organizational equilibrium, moving to a new position and refreezing in a new equilibrium position (Burke, 1992, and French et al, 2005). Change may be categorized in several ways including, planned or unplanned, qualitative or quantitative. When we plan change, we deliberately set out to arrange an end to the status quo and replace it by something else. Unplanned change, on the other hand, could be imposed suddenly; or it could be the result of a number of small events accumulating imperceptibly over time. According to Ackerman (in Jick and Peiperl, 2003) change consist of three categories: developmental, transitional and transformational. Ackerman describes developmental change as the improvement of a skill, a method or condition that for some reason does not measure up to current expectations. It is the improvement of what is. Transitional change is the implementation of a known new state. It involves the movement by steps from one state to another. Transitional change has its foundation in the work of Kurt Lewin (1951). Transformational change is the...
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