Under the skin of change : meanings, models and management

Sammanfattning: For society at large, and organizations in particular, the magnitude, speed, impact, and unpredictability of change, are greater than ever before. But despite the need for unceasing transformation, there seems to be a general consensus between practitioners and scholars that few are successful when trying to lead organizational change. Different surveys also indicate that managers identify the ordeal of leading change as one of the key obstacles to increased competitiveness. Although debated, it is estimated that around 70 percent of all organizational change initiatives fail to reach intended objectives.Organizations deal with management of change, by means of models. But there is no obvious way forward and many fail along the way in their effort to contextualize models and construct meaning. This boils down to the specific research focus in this thesis: the use of change management models, their influence on management decision making and the meaning they make in practice for the organizations adopting the models when planning and executing change initiatives. To be able to accomplish the purpose, the following overarching research question has been formulated: How does management use models to manage change?The problem addressed is both complex and complicated. Therefore, the research question is supported by the sub questions: What does the literature say about models for organizational change best practice? How do organizations organize change management? How can a process based system model create meaning?The theoretical frame of reference is focusing on aspects of organizational change and systems thinking. Six papers; a literature review, a web survey, two case studies, an organizational ethnography and a conceptual paper are appended. Based on the studies, the following conclusions could be made:1)There seems to be no evidence based change management best practice.2)Organizations are beginning to organize change based on change management models.3)Management does not seem to make much use of change management models in practice, some consultants do.4)Organizational change can be described as a process comprising important elements outlined in a logical sequence.The answer to the overarching research question is: Managers apply change management models to a relatively small extent – the theory-practice gap is for real. Managers are often informed of the benefits of change management models through business publications promoting certain models or “gurus”. But in an effort to just get it done there is a tendency to dismiss theoretical aspects of organizational change in favor of using a set of quick prescriptive steps, or no structure at all. It could well be that most change management models actually are fit for use, but the root cause is in fact a knowledge transfer problem. Managers simply do not have time, focus and ability to apply theoretical models in practice.