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Managing Culture and Change (4HRM7B8) Why is it not possible to produce a blueprint for managing organisational culture?

Support your argument with critical analysis of published change models

“It is not necessary to change. Survival is not mandatory”


(W. Edwards Deming)

The above quotation hold a very realistic value to the organisations of this globalised
world, it simply means that if company’s wants to survive in this world they would
definitely have to adopt to change otherwise they would not be able to survive.
Supporting this assertion is Garratt (1997) who points that

Learning > Change = Survival

The above equation emphasize that for an organisation to survive they not only have
to change but also have to learn how to bring about and deal with change, this is what
the organisations have to do to be at bear minimum stage where they are alive and
working, otherwise they face are grave danger to their existence. Learning how to
change is very important, the way in which the change shall be brought about is
essential ingredient to the change process itself. Researchers and practitioners have
provided organisations with vast variety of theories and models that would help
organisation achieve change.

Burnes (1996) criticizes the models for being prescriptive, and if organisation acts in
any other manner of what the theory lays down this actually militate against the
interests of the organisation whereas according to Todnem (2005) the models are
contradictory, mostly lacking empirical evidence and supported by unchallenged
hypotheses (Guimaraes and Armstrong, 1998). Concerning the nature of
comtemporary organisational change which is with little dispute the primary task for
today’s leadership this also prompts the major obstacle for organisations in selecting a
model from the excess that is available and most importantly what is appropriate
(Sidorko, 2008), attributing the failure of major change programmes to lack of
framework of how to implement and manage change. The reason of this failure can be
that every organization has its own culture, character, nature, and identity and has its
own history of success that reinforces and strengthens the organization's way of doing
things (Burnes, 2004).

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Managing Culture and Change (4HRM7B8) Why is it not possible to produce a blueprint for managing organisational culture?
Support your argument with critical analysis of published change models

Organizations are communities of people with a mission; they are not machines
(Schneider, 2000). It can be said that like one medicine is not appropriate for all
humans facing sickness, likewise one model might not be appropriate for all
organisation, a change in disease requires change in approach, assessing the damage
these change program do to the organisation Beer et al (1990) point that One-size-fits-
all change programs take energy away from the efforts to solve key business
problems, thus explaining why so many managers don’t support programs.

Handy (1985) finds that change is often unpredictable, tends to be reactive,


discontinuous and often triggered by situation of crisis (Dyer in Brown, 1998)
whereas Gagliardi (Brown, 1998) points to start of change with leader employing a
vision thus what might trigger change for one organisation might not do so for the
other, thus change in the real world organisation might not trigger the way the model
triggers change and these models might be applicable to one organisation but at the
same time they cannot be applied to the other, the reason is pointed out by Beer et al
(1990) who points that these models are guided by theory of change that is
fundamentally unsound. For instance the dyer Model of cultural evolution predicts
conflict between proponents of old and new leadership but when applied to Nissan
(Japan) Brown (1998) found that conflict seems very “plausible” but Japanese
organisation being what they are there is little direct evidence for it.

The concept of change has evolved overtime; previously it was thought that
organisation constantly changing could not be effective in improving performance
(Rieley and Clarkson, 2001) but now its argued that organisations need to constantly
undergo change in order to improve (Burnes, 2004) and an approach that might suit an
organisation at one stage is not necessarily appropriate forever (Handy, 1985).

In change management there is considerable disagreement regarding the most


appropriate approach to changing organisations. Organisations can opt for two
different approaches to change management. One is planned approach and the other is
emergent approach to change. Discussing the planned approach to change, it is
iterative, cyclical, process involving diagnosis, action and evaluation, further action
and evaluation (Burnes, 2004). Planned change has dominated the theory and practice

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Managing Culture and Change (4HRM7B8) Why is it not possible to produce a blueprint for managing organisational culture?
Support your argument with critical analysis of published change models

of change management for the past 50 years and is based principally on the work of
Lewin (Bamford and Forrester, 2003).

Planned change has its own share of adversaries. Schein (1985) criticises planned
change for its emphasis on isolated change and its inability to incorporate radical
change. The planned approach is based on the assumption that everyone within the
organisation agrees to work in one direction with no disagreement. Unfortunately, this
is not always the case. Within any group of individuals, differences of opinion on
important matters will always exist (Bamford and Forrester, 2003) thus when one tries
to change the previous behaviour to successfully adopt the new behaviour there is
resistance to change.

Planned approach to organisational change typically follows Lewin three steps. Lewin
(1947) talks about change as levels which are Unfreeze, Change, and Re-freeze. The
first level is to unfreeze the present level of behaviour through an emotional stir-up,
Lewin (1947) does mention that permanency to new level for a desired period shall be
included in the objective. The second is to move to the new desired level and
refreezing actually establishes ways to make the new level “relatively secure against
change” (Burke, 2008). The three step model by Lewin has been criticized by Eldrod
II and Tippett (2002) for being broad and linear (Kippenberger, 1998) whereas Carnall
(2007) points to Lewin being Unitary in focus taking the concerns of the most
powerful into account, thus making it more appropriate for organisations with power
culture at its centre as identified by Coram and Burnes (2001) who find it a response
to top down, autocratic, rigid, rule-based organisations operating in somewhat
predictable and controlled environment thus it would not hold applicable in today’s
turbulent and chaotic world and is unable to incorporate radical and transformations
change where there is no refreezing, there is no rest and no getting ready (Zigarmi et
al, 2007).

Lewin has been criticized for its refreezing, as it is likely to engender a new cycle of
single loop learning with the construction of norms and defensive routines that could
hinder future change and adaptation (Duberley et al, 2000) similarly planned change
aim to move organizations into new future state, but an understanding of the future as

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Managing Culture and Change (4HRM7B8) Why is it not possible to produce a blueprint for managing organisational culture?
Support your argument with critical analysis of published change models

a “temporal dimension” with its own unique dynamics has been virtually ignored
(Purser and Petranker, 2005).

Lewis (2000) found out that planned approach relies much on the essence of
communicating effectively before actually implementing it; thus Lewin planned
approach won’t be applicable to the organisation lacking strong channels of
communication as Lewis reports that 89 implementers of planned change noted
problems in communicating vision and negative attitudes. The negative attitudes can
be attributed to the assumptions the organisations operate under constant conditions
and they can move to a pre-planned manner from one stable state to another (Bamford
and Forrester, 2003). Bess et al (2007) criticises these basis of Lewin approach by
noting that change cannot occur from one stable state to another in the unstable
business environment that exists today. The reason of this can be that by the time
organisation takes the initiative to change there would be another change hovering
around organisation, Business world today is not stable.

Lewin’s model is expert-centred, the change agent or action researcher acts as a


feedback mechanism ensuring transitions between states of stability while helping to
diffuse resistance (Caldwell, 2005) and this dependence on change agents would
actually halt change process as in many instances they do not have full understanding
of their actions (Todnem, 2005).

Bess et al (2007) point to application of Lewin Model, it would likely strengthen skills
and capacities of personnel who work in tightly linked interdependent structures thus
forcing workers to direct attention to specific tasks and process (Process Culture) but
Lewin’s change model, with its assumptions of linearity, progressive development,
goal seeking, and disequilibrium as a motivator, is not applicable when change is
viewed as complex, and nondiscrete and when more directive approaches like a
situation of crisis or rapid environmental transformation (Burnes, 1996). Burnes
points that change seeking internal stability more likely to pursue planned change.
Lewin approach mainly relies on an episodic conception of change processes;
emergent understandings suggest a continuous, evolving, and incremental view of
change (Purser and Petranker, 2005).

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Managing Culture and Change (4HRM7B8) Why is it not possible to produce a blueprint for managing organisational culture?
Support your argument with critical analysis of published change models

Lewin’s work on change was increasingly criticized as relevant only to small-scale


changes in stable conditions, and for ignoring issues such as organizational politics
and conflict. Esain et al (2008) criticizes Lewin planned approach of change to
presume that everyone in the organisation is willing and interested in change, thus
there wont be any conflict, this approach actually bring it closer to organisations with
Unitary frame of reference which according to Rasmussen and Lamm (2002) assert
that Unitarist frame of reference builds on the image of Army and managers
“prerogative” is stressed, raising issues is not considered an acceptable norm.

All the criticism cited above relate to Lewin work regarding organisational change
However, it needs to be recognized that his 3-Step model is not only of organizational
issues and is a model for social change (Lewin, 1947) and Lewin ‘refreezing’, refers
to preventing individuals and groups from regressing to their old behaviours. In this
respect, Lewin’s view seems to be similar to that of his critics (Burnes, 2004).

More telling, though, is that when Elrod and Tippett (2002) compared a wide range of
change models, they found that most approaches to organizational change were
strikingly similar to Lewin’s 3-Step model.

In response to criticism to planned approach to change, a new organisational approach


to change gained strength, called the emergent approach to change. Burnes (1996)
calls on emergent approach as being driven by bottom up, and stresses that change is
continuous and open ended process of adapting to changing conditions, and involves
learning. thus making the approach more suitable to dynamic organisations, which is
the norm of today’s organisation, thus making planned approach suitable of
organisations of which are stable, process based, autocratic, and power based.

This actually points to first criticism against emergent approach to change making it
more suitable for organisation operating in dynamic environment thus by its own
definition it’s not applicable to stable environments (Coram and Burnes, 2001).
Another criticism comes from Bamford and Forrester (2003) argue that emergent
approach lack coherence and diversity of techniques and builds on a process having a
beginning, middle and end as pointed out by Sidorko (2008) that Kotter 8 model for
change falls in three categories namely, preparation, action and grounding.

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Managing Culture and Change (4HRM7B8) Why is it not possible to produce a blueprint for managing organisational culture?
Support your argument with critical analysis of published change models

Bess et al (2007) points to the situation where emergent approach to change can be
applied; he points that when facing multiple tasks at different stages, under these
conditions this type of change would be more appropriate as it allows organisational
members to develop capacities for engaging in multiple simultaneous projects. Thus
Burnes (1997) points that change seeking external stability more likely to pursue
emergent change

Kotter (1996) developed an eight-step model for transformational change which has
had wide practical application:

1. Establish a sense of urgency.


2. Create the guiding coalition.
3. Develop the vision and strategy.
4. Communicate the change vision.
5. Empowering broad-based action.
6. Generating short-term wins.
7. Consolidate gains and produce more change.
8. Anchoring new approaches in the culture.

The model useful and points that it doesn’t have a unitary view as creating guiding
coalition is a political process (Carnall, 2007) and values employee involvement but
Kotter (1996) does not avoid criticism. Although from emergent school of thought
(Burnes, 2001, Coram and Burnes, 2001, Todnem, 2005), the model is criticised for
being prescriptive (Coram and Burnes, 2001) because of its step wise nature. Dawson
(2003) talks about the “untidy and messy nature of change”. Justification for the use is
that it provides clarity and focus and provides a framework by which change within
the subject organisation can be understood (Palmer, 2006). The steps have been
criticised of its order, the third stage about vision should start before second stage and
be developed in combination with the first stage - the guiding coalition should help
set, validate and elaborate strategy before building the initial guiding coalition
(Mackinnon, 2007).

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Managing Culture and Change (4HRM7B8) Why is it not possible to produce a blueprint for managing organisational culture?
Support your argument with critical analysis of published change models

Analysing the application of Kotter in a change process where objective was to


integrate library and other educational support services in an Australian university,
Sidorko (2008) finds out that although the model served organisation well in
facilitating the change process, but there was steps lacking, like dealing with the
human side of enterprise, whereas Eddy (2008) in his study by applying Kotter for
bringing change in community college found that it lacks impact of team leadership
and influence of varying leadership styles. Apart from this there was little evidence
about methodologies for evaluating the success of change (Sidorko, 2008) as it does
talk about anchoring the new approaches in the culture but doesn’t actually identify
the means through which organisation assess the success of their change and would
actually get to know whether it works or not after it implementation. The Kotter
model has been appreciated for pumping energy into the organisation (Cameron and
Green, 2004), as it starts off by creating of hurriedness in the people and helps them
keep anticipating something.

Burnes (2004) from XYZ experience finds out that planned and emergent changes are
not competitors, nor each one seeks to show that it is better than other. Nor are they
mutually exclusive or incapable of being used in combination. Rather they are allies,
each one appropriate to particular change situations but neither appropriate for all
change situations. Thus if one approach is weak in a certain situation, the other can
brought to the help of organisation. As Bamford and Forrester (2004) concluded, there
is no “one best way” to manage change. Thus key issue here for managers is to
understand what they are trying to achieve, the context in which their organization is
operating and the strengths and weaknesses of various approaches as the managing
director of XYZ adopted a planned approach to change the organization’s structure
rather than an emergent one although emergent change had served the company well
in bringing about changes in the attitudes and behaviour, and in improving the
organization’s performance

Another set of models for change are contingency models, which according to Burnes
(1996) is a rejection of “One best way for all” approach and sustains that structure of
an organisation is dependent (“Contingent”) on the situational variables it faces like
environment, technology and size. For success organisations need to align their
structures with the particular contingencies they face. Since no two organisation

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Managing Culture and Change (4HRM7B8) Why is it not possible to produce a blueprint for managing organisational culture?
Support your argument with critical analysis of published change models

would face the same contingencies, their structures and operations would be different
thus “One Best way for all” would be “One best way for each” organisation (Todnem,
2005).

Contingency theory has its share of criticism, Managers may have significant degree
of choice and influence not only over structure but also over the situational variables
(Burnes, 2004), making the structures the result of bargaining and compromise
(Cornall, 2007) plus it has also been criticised for difficulty in relating structure to
performance, also being accused of ignoring difficulty in adopting new approach to
change (Burnes, 1996). Cornall (2007) notes that contingency theory may become a
trivial exercise for managers in encouraging a sort of checklist approach, ignoring
how variables themselves may interact thus despite its attractiveness, it fails to
provide convincing explanation for the way in which organisations do and should
operate (Burnes, 2004).

Conclusion
The above discussion provides evidence that change is ever present in organisations;
therefore a successful management of change is a highly required skill. Failure in
change programmes can be attributed to lack of framework on how to implement and
manage change (Todnem, 2005) and making it more complex is that there is not one
solution fits all. Burnes (2004) suggests that combination of approaches can be used,
cemented by the case of Esain et al (2008) who point to the empirical evidence that
suggests that both planned and emergent approaches to change exist in organisation.
Thus there is a need for managers to be clear about aims, organizational context and
the strengths and weaknesses associated with the different approaches to change as
demonstrated in case of XYZ which make a particular approach useful in a particular
scenario.
There are so many models for organisational change, and many of these model share
lots of characteristics (Sidorko, 2008), looking at the Lewin planned approach to
change and Kotter emergent approach (Mitchell, 2003, Palmer, 2004), Kotter model
seems to stem out from Lewin’s work

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Managing Culture and Change (4HRM7B8) Why is it not possible to produce a blueprint for managing organisational culture?
Support your argument with critical analysis of published change models

Unfreeze is actually Preparation for organisation

Change denotes the Actions to be taken

Re-Freeze truly means Grounding the new way of working in the organisation

Burnes (1997) point out that the preferred approach to change actually stems out from
its culture, cementing the assertion is Sidorko (2008) points that successful change
model relies on right leader and the right environment and culture thus the right for
one organisation may not be right for other since organisation operate in a dynamic
way (Senior, 2006).
Certainly change models have a role to play in organisational change, but they should
complement the organisation as just like the change comes in all shapes and sizes so
does the models (Burnes, 1996). Thus rather than arguing between planned and
emergent, they can be better looked upon approaches addressing situational variable
(Contingencies). Planned models suits stable and predictable situation where change is
top down whereas emergent is for fast, unpredictable environments stemming from
bottom to top. Strengthening the assertion is (Mackinnon, 2007) who points that in
practice it may be useful to combine Kotter's framework for organising change
management activity with some other change model which engage more closely with
the “psychological processes” of change that individuals have to go through when
asked to move to “new behaviours, activities, roles and identities in an organisation”.

Organisations need to think of appropriateness, as it’s evident from above discussion


that it’s impossible to produce a blueprint for organisational change as organisation
face varied contingencies in their operation. In summary, there are too many models
for change, the same way there are many situation in which they would be used, and
it’s not about using the “Best Practice” laid by the latest expert (Burnes, 1996).

Word Count: 2,830

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Managing Culture and Change (4HRM7B8) Why is it not possible to produce a blueprint for managing organisational culture?
Support your argument with critical analysis of published change models

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