Strategic Management

Topics: Organizational studies, Organization, Change management Pages: 24 (8536 words) Published: June 7, 2013
Organizational discontinuity: Evolutionary, revolutionary and re-evolutionary change Paper presented at the 25th Standing Conference on Organizational Symbolism “Signs of the future: Management, messianism, catastrophe” 1-4 July 2007, Ljubljana, Slovenia by Dr. Jürgen Deeg University of Hagen, Germany Faculty of Economics and Business Administration Chair of Business Administration, Leadership and Organization Profilstr. 8, 58084 Hagen e-mail: Abstract: Facing an age of tremendous change and transformation, the ability to cope with such radically, i.e. discontinuous changing contexts is now a key variable for organizational success, performance and growth. Consequently organizational discontinuity is not only a major challenge in present organizational practices, but also a “true test” for organization science. While it is highly questionable whether organization science has read the signs of the future in this respect, the paper pursues a critical study of the organizational change discourse and provides an integrated view of organizational discontinuity as the epitome of future change processes. As the changing nature of change towards more discontinuity requires new ideas and visions for the analysis and explanation of this different kind of organizational change, the paper tries to integrate the opposite paradigms of determinism and voluntarism in organizational change discussion with a paralogic method. By combining continuous and discontinuous aspects of change and focussing on change and stability, an integrated perspective of organizational discontinuity is outlined. Viewed in such a perspective, organizational discontinuity is an intermittent interplay of order and disorder, which can be explained by evolutionary and revolutionary theories of change linked together in a model of “constructive destruction”. Furthermore a “re-evolutionary” perspective is presented, conceptualizing the delicate interaction between evolutionary (structural) and revolutionary (political) processes. Finally some implications for theory and research on organizational change are also provided. 1 Introduction

To assert that we live in an age of unprecedented change and transformation, in which nearly every aspect of modern life is affected by the rapidity and irreversibility of such changes, has almost become a truism (Chia 1999, p. 209). More and more organizations are under an increasing pressure to respond to even more and more dramatic changes in order to remain viable, profitable or attractive to stakeholders (Kanter/Stein/Jick 1992, D’Aveni 1995, Nadler 1998). Thus the ability to cope with such radically, i.e. discontinuos changing contexts is now 1

a key variable for success, performance and growth (Greenwood/Hinings 1996, Brown/Eisenhardt 1998, Nadler/Shaw 1995). Therefore organizational discontinuity is the major challenge in present organizational practice (Prahalad 1998, p. 14) and a true test for future organization science as well (Mohrman 2001, p. 63). But whether organizational science has read the signs of the future in this respect is highly questionable. Not only the scientific discussion of change is extremely fragmented and no commonly accepted (unitary) theory of change in sight to keep up with such a multifaceted and contradictory phenomenon, discontinuous change has rarely been addressed at all. The paper therefore aims at contributing to a radical critique of the organizational change discourse and providing avenues of an integrative view of discontinuous organizational change as a prominent form of future change processes. Because so far the discussion on organizational change is in many respects substantially inappropriate, insufficient and onesided and cannot address the phenomenon of discontinuity adequately. Firstly change is in a far too optimistic view still seen as a stable, predictable, and manageable process (Sturdy/Grey 2004, p. 4). Yet change implies far more surprise,...

References: Aldrich, H. E. (1979): Organizations and environments, Englewood Cliffs/NJ: Prentice Hall Aldrich, H. E. (1999): Organizations evolving, London: Sage Ansoff, H. I. (1979): Strategic management, London: MacMillan Press Astley, W. G. /Van de Ven, A. H. (1983): Central perspectives and debates in organization theory. In: Administrative Science Quarterly, Vol. 28, pp. 245-273 Bass, B. M./Riggio, R. E. (2006): Transformational leadership, 2nd Edition, Mahwah/N.J.: Lawrence Earlbaum Bennis, W. (2001): The future has no shelf life. In: Bennis, W./Spreitzer, G. M./Cummings, T. G. (Eds.): The future of leadership: Today’s top leadership thinkers speak to tomorrow’s leaders, San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, pp. 3-13 Bibeault, D. (1982): Corporate Turnaround, New York: McGraw-Hill Bolman, L. G./Deal, T. E. (1997): Reframing organizations: Artistry, choice and leadership, 2nd Edition, San Francisco: Joessey-Bass Brown, S. L./Eisenhardt, K. M. (1998): Competing on the edge: Strategy as structured chaos, Boston/MA: Harvard Business School Press Burrell, G. (1996): Normal science, paradigms, metaphors, discourses and genealogies of analysis. In: Clegg, S. R./Hardy, C./Nord, W. R. (Eds.): Handbook of organization studies, London: Sage, pp. 642-658 Burrell, G./Morgan, G. (1979): Sociological paradigms and organizational analysis: Elements of the sociology of corporate life, London: Heinemann Caldwell, R. (2005): Things fall apart? Discourses on agency and change. In: Human Relations, Vol. 58, pp. 83-114 Chia, R. (1999): A „rhizomic“ model of organizational change and transformation: Perspectives from a metaphysics of change. In: British Journal of Management, Vol. 10, pp. 209-277 Cooper, R. (1990): Organization/disorganization. In: Hassard, J./Pym, J. (Eds.): The theory and philosophy of organizations: Critical issues and new perspectives, London: Routledge, pp. 167197 Czarniawska, B. (2001): Having hope in paralogy. In: Human Relations, Vol. 54, pp. 13-21 Czada, R. M./Héritier, A./Keman, H. (1998): Institutions and political choice: On the limits of rationality, Amsterdam: VU Press D’Aveni, R. A. (1994): Hypercompetition: Managing the dynamics of strategic manoeuvring, New York: The Free Press Eberl, P./Koch, J./Dabitz, R. (1999): Rebellion in der Organisation – Überlegungen zu einer Führungstheorie radikalen Wandels. In: Schreyögg, G./Sydow, J. (Eds.): Führung - neu gesehen (Managementforschung 9), Berlin/New York: De Gruyter, pp. 239-277 Edwards, D./Potter, J. (1992): Discursive psychology, London: Sage Ford, J. D./Ford, L. W. (1994): Logics of identity, contradiction and attraction in change. In: Academy of Management Review, Vol. 19, pp. 756-785 Foster, R. N./Kaplan, S. (2001): Creative destruction, New York: Currency and Doubleday French, W. L./Bell, C. H. (1998): Organization development: Behavioral science interventions for organization improvement, Englewood Cliffs/NJ: Prentice Hall Gioa, D. A./Pitré, E. (1990): Multiparadigm perspectives on theory building. In: Academy of Management Review, Vol. 15, pp. 584-602 Greenwood, R./Hinings, C. R. (1996): Understanding radical organizational change: Bringing together the old and the new institutionalism. In: Academy of Management Review, Vol. 21, pp. 1022-1054 Grenwood, R./Hinings, C. R. (2006): Radical organizational change. In: Clegg, S. R. et al. (Eds.): Handbook of organization studies, 2nd Edition, London: Sage, pp. 814-842
Greiner, L. E. (1972): Evolution and revolution as organizations grow. In: Harvard Business Review, Vol. 50, pp. 37-46 Hamel, G. (2001): Revolution vs. Evolution: You need both. In: Harvard Business Review, Vol. 79, pp. 150-155 Hambrick, D. C./D’Aveni, R. (1988): Large corporate failures as downward spirals. In: Administrative Science Quarterly, Vol. 33, pp. 1-23 Hannan, M. J./Freeman, J. (1984): Structural inertia and organizational change. In: American Sociologial Review, Vol. 49, pp. 149-164 Hosking, D. M./Dachler, H. P./Gergen/K. (Eds.) (1995): Management and organization: Relational alternatives to individualism, Aldershot: Avebury House, R./Rousseau, D. M./Thomas-Hunt, M. (1995): The meso-paradigm: A framework for the integration of micro and macro organizational behavior. In: Research in Organizational Behavior, Vol. 17, pp. 71-114 Kanter, R. M./Stein, B. A./Jick, T. D. (1992): The challenge of organizational change, New York: The Free Press Klein, K. J./Tosi, H./Canella, A. A. (1999): Multilevel theory building: Benefits, barriers and new developments. In: Academy of Management Review, Vol. 24, pp. 243-248 Kotter, J. P. (1996): Leading change, Boston/MA:Harvard Business School Press Kouzes, J. M./Posner, B. Z. (2001): Bridging leadership lessons from the past to the future. In: Bennis, W./Spreitzer, G. M./Cummings, T. G. (Eds.): The future of leadership: Today’s top leadership thinkers speak to tomorrow’s leaders, San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, pp. 81-90 Levy, A./Merry, U. (1986): Organizational transformation, New York: Praeger Lyotard, J.-F. (1987): The postmodern condition: A report on knowledge, Manchester: Manchester University Press March, J. G./Olsen, J. P. (1989): Rediscovering institutions: The organizational basics of politics, New York: The Free Press Mezias, S./Glynn, M.A. (1993): The three faces of corporate renewal: Institution, revolution, evolution. In: Strategic Management Journal, Vol. 14, pp. 77-101 McKinley, W. (1993): Organizational decline and adaptation. In: Organization Science, Vol. 4, pp. 1-9 Mintzberg, H. (1983): Power in and around organizations, Englewood Cliffs/NJ: Prentice Hall Mintzberg, H. (1985): The organization as political arena. In: Journal of Management Studies, Vol. 22, pp. 133-154 Mintzberg, H./Westley, F. (1992): Cycles of organizational change. In: Strategic Management Journal, Vol. 13, pp. 39-59 Mohrman, S. A. (2001): Seize the day: Organizational studies can and should make a difference. In: Human Relations, Vol. 54, pp. 57-65 Morgan, G. (1986): Images of organization: Beverly Hills: Sage Morgan, G. (1990): Paradigm diversity in organizational research. In: Hassard, J./Pym, D. (Eds.): The theory and philosophy of organizations: Critical issues and new perspectives, London/New York: Routledge, pp. 13-19 Nadler, D. A. (1998): Champions of change, San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Nadler, D. A./Tushman, M. L. (1995): Types of organizational change: From incremental improvement to discontinuous transformation. In: Nadler, D. A./Shaw, R. B./Walton, A. E. (Eds.): Discontinuous change: Leading organizational transformation, San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, pp. 1534 Nadler, D. A./Shaw, R. B. (1995): Change leadership: Core competency for the twenty-first century. In: Nadler, D. A./Shaw, R. B./Walton, A. E. (Eds.): Discontinuous change: Leading organizational transformation, San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, pp. 3-13 Nelson, R. R. (1995): Recent evolutionary theorizing about economic change. In: Journal of Economic Literature, Vol. 23, pp. 48-90
Nicholson, N. (2001): An evolutionary perspective on change and stability in personality, culture, and organization. In: Erez, M./Kleinbeck, W./Thierry, H. (Eds.): Work motivation in the context of a globalizing economy, Mahwah/NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum, pp. 381-394 Nisbet, R. (1972): Introduction: The problem of social change. In: Nisbet, R. (Ed.): Social change, Oxford: Blackwell, pp. 1-45 Nishida, T./Doshita , S. (1987): Reasoning about discontinuous change. In: Proceedings of the National Conference on Artificial Intelligence (1987), pp. 643-648 Ottaway, R. N. (1983): The change agent at work: A taxonomy in relation to the change processes. In: Human Relations, Vol. 36, pp. 361-392 Pascale, R. T./Millemann, M./Gioja, L. (2001): Surfing the edge of chaos: The laws of nature and the new laws of business, New York: Three Rivers Press Peters, T. J./Waterman, R. H. (1982): In search of excellence: Lessons from America’s best-run companies, New York: Harper&Row Pettigrew, A. M./Woodman, R. W./Cameron, K. S. (2001): Studying organizational change and development: Challenges for future research. In: Academy of Management Journal, Vol. 44, pp. 697-713 Pfeffer, J. (1982): Organizations and organization theory, Boston: Pitman Piderit, S. K. (2000): Rethinking resistance and recognizing ambivalence: A multidimensional view of attitudes toward an organizational change. In: Academy of Management Review, Vol. 25, pp. 783-794 Prahalad, C. K. (1998): Managing discontinuities: The emerging challenges. In: Research Technology Management, Vol. 41, pp. 14-22 Rao, M. V. H./Pasmore, W. A. (1989): Knowledge and interest in organization studies: A conflict of interpretations. In: Organization Studies, Vol. 10, pp. 225-239 Schultz, M./Hatch, M. J. (1996): Living with multiple paradigm: The case of paradigm interplay in organizational culture studies. In: Academy of Management Review, Vol. 21, pp. 529-557 Senge, P. M. (1990): The fifth discipline: The art and practice of the learning organization, New York: Currency Doubleday Shaw, R. B./Walton, A. E. (1995): Conclusion: The lessons of discontinuous change. In: Nadler, D. A./Shaw, R. B./Walton, A. E. (Eds.): Discontinuous change: Leading organizational transformation, San Francisco, pp. 272-276 Siggelkow, N. (2002): Evolution toward fit. In: Administrative Science Quarterly, Vol. 47, pp. 125159 Sonnenfeld, J. (2001): Heroic leadership’s greatest battle: The defeat of disappointment versus the disappointment of defeat. In: Bennis, W./Spreitzer, G. M./Cummings, T. G. (Eds.): The future of leadership: Today’s top leadership thinkers speak to tomorrow’s leaders, San Francisco: JosseyBass, pp. 189-208 Strebel, P. (1990): Dealing with discontinuities. In: European Management Journal, Vol. 8, pp. 434442 Sturdy, A. J./Grey, C. (2004): Beneath and beyond change: Exploring the discourses of organizational change, unpublished discussion paper, Imperial College, University of London Tsoukas, H./Chia, R. (2002): On organizational becoming: Rethinking organizational change. In: Organization Science, Vol. 13, pp. 567-582 Tushman, M. L. (1977): A political approach to organizations: A review and rationale. In: Academy of Management Review, Vol. 2, pp.206-216 Tushman, M. L./O’Reilly, C. (1998): Unternehmen müssen auch den sprunghaften Wandel meistern. In: Harvard Business Manager, Vol. 20, pp. 30-44 Tushman, M. L./Romanelli, E. (1985): Organizational evolution: A metamorphosis model of convergence and reorientation. In: Research in Organizational Behaviour, Vol. 7, pp. 171-222
Tushman, M. L./Newman, W. H./Romanelli, E. (1986): Convergence and upheaval: Managing the unsteady pace of organizational evolution. In: California Management Review, Vol. 29, pp. 2944 Van de Ven, A H. (1987): Review Essay: Four requirements for processual analysis. In: Pettigrew, A. M. (Ed.): The management of strategic change, Oxford: Blackwell, pp. 330-341 Van de Ven, A. H./Astley, G. W. (1981): Mapping the field to create a dynamic perspective on organization design and behavior. In: Van de Ven, A. H./Joyce, W. F. (Eds.): Perspectives on organizational design and behavior, New York: Wiley & Sons, pp. 427-468 Van de Veen, A. H./Poole, M. S. (1995): Explaining development and change in organizations. In: Academy of Management Review, Vol. 20, pp. 510-540 Weaver, G. R./Gioia, D. A. (1994): Paradigms lost: Incommensurability vs. structurationist inquiry. In: Organization Studies, Vol. 15, pp. 565-589 Weick, K. E. (2001): Leadership as the legitimation of doubt. In: Bennis, W./Spreitzer, G./Cummings, T. G. (Eds.): The future of leadership: Today’s top leadership thinkers speak to tommorow’s leaders, San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, pp. 91-102 Weick, K./Quinn, R. E. (1999): Organizational change and development. In: Annual Review of Psychology, Vol. 50, pp. 361-386
Continue Reading

Please join StudyMode to read the full document

You May Also Find These Documents Helpful

  • Strategic Management and Strategic Competitiveness Essay
  • Essay about Strategic Management Assignment Unilever and Blizzard
  • Essay on Strategic Management
  • Essay about Strategic Management
  • Strategic Management Essay
  • strategic management Essay
  • Strategic Management Research Paper
  • Essay on Strategic Management Assignment

Become a StudyMode Member

Sign Up - It's Free