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Organizational Change and Development (Essay Sample)

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An essay on a topic in the field of organizational change and development as relates to Schein or French and Bell books. Includes views on personal experience as a well as a case study.

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Analyzing the Influence of Organizational Culture on Organizational Change
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Introduction
The importance of organisational change in the twenty first century cannot be underestimated. With an increasingly globalised business environment, organizations have no choice but to measure up to the demands this new and highly competitive business environment presents. Among these demands, is the need for organizations to strategically adapt to new business paradigms through change. However, an organisation’s best bet in implementing its change strategies is ensuring that there is a positive and effective culture within the organisation. Various studies have shown that organisational culture does indeed determine the ability of an organisation to change. Learning forms an important aspect when an organisation desires to change. The aspects of an organisation’s culture and subcultures determine how both individuals and work groups familiarize with and fit into the organisational change initiatives and how that consequentially affects their learning. In this paper, the first part discusses the fundamentals of culture, the second part addresses change. The third part analyses the relationship between organisational culture and change in organisational setting. The fifth part presents a case study while the sixth part concludes the study.
Organizational Culture
According to Hofstede (2001), culture refers to patterns of mindsets and behaviors individuals in an organisation share. Many definitions of culture have been proposed by different authors. The definition provided above is centered on the relationship between culture and major change. Organisational culture revolves around what is done as well as why. Culture is based on two important components: behaviors and mindsets. Martinsons, Davidson and Martinsons (2009) support these views by pointing out that culture is usually “a collective programming of the mind”. This aspect of organisational culture explains the distinguished characteristics of different nations, industries, organizations and professions. From its nature, organisational culture can be said to encompass four dimensions: individualism, uncertainty avoidance, masculinity and power distance. Janicijevic (2012) defines organisation culture as a system of assumptions, attitudes, norms, and values that members of an organisation share and are manifested through symbols which organisational participants develop and adopt by means of mutual experience. These shared values, assumptions, beliefs, norms and attitudes help the members of an organization find the meaning of their environment and how they ought to behave it.
Through culture members of an organisation are able to interpret events, people and occurrences happening inside and outside the organisation. Since organisational culture can be viewed as a collective interpretative system shared by members across an organisation, then it implies that people attach meaning to events in relatively similar way and responds similar (Schein, 2004). Schein further adds that organisational culture is usually an abstraction yet the forces resulting from both organization and social events derived from culture are rather powerful. As such it is very crucial that managers of organizations understand how these forces operate in order to avoid being unable to effect change. Schein (2004) relates culture to the basic assumptions.
Balthazard, Cooke and Potter (2006) discuss corporate culture, in which they refer to it as the self-concept of the organisation which is roughly analogous to an individual’s personality. This self-image of the organisation usually takes a while to develop. Corporate culture constitutes an aggregate of subcultures developed as a result of exposure of different organizational work groups to unique challenges at different times. In nature, organizational culture is quite multifaceted and hence presents various complexities in organisational leadership. Hence, it is important that organisational managers be able to develop a culture of quality. Having the right kind if culture in place helps in ensuring that various values are instilled within the organization and these are crucial for the growth of the organisation especially during change. Culture also influences the effectiveness of an organisation. According to Schein (2004), stronger cultures are associated with effective organizations. Peters and Waterman (cited in Janicijevic, 2012) also add that highly successful organizations are defined by a very strong and developed organisational culture. Culture characterizes the dynamics of an organisation and hence its role in organisational change.
Organizational Change
The global market place has overtime become very competitive and hostile. These changes are associated with the increasing globalization and evolution of business processes. There is therefore need for organizations to strategically adapt to these changes. This means that organizations can remain relevant even as the nature of business environment changes (Alvesson, 2002). Organisation change, which is responsible for strategic repositioning of organizations, encompasses implementation of change initiatives and new goals.
Organizational change usually results from major external impetus such as a declining market share, significant decline in funding or a dramatic increase in services. Most often, organizations find themselves under pressure to implement strategic, structural and/or technical shifts in order to initiate an evolution towards a different level in the life cycle of the organisation (Aselage & Eisenberger, 2003). A university can for instance change to target competitive positioning against other competing universities and hence attract more enrollments and other external drivers such as research funding which bring about growth and more business for the university. On its part, the university would have to change the manner in which it delivers both educational and research services to incorporate the projected goals.
During organisational change, organizations undergo a radical transformation process. Organisational change means strategically adapting to the evolving business environment within which an organisation operates. In support of organisational change, Stephen argues that replicating traditional practices in a modern-day organization won’t guarantee the same results achieved then, irrespective of the fact that the practice may have been very effective then (Stephen, 2010). Practices used in earlier stages of an organisation cease to be effective as times change. This is because of change which organizations have to keep up with remaining effective. Through organisational change an organization is able to respond to new situations in a measured, proactive and agile approach. As such, organisational change enables an organisation to maintain its competitive advantage and consistently deliver on the various strategic objectives.
Change ought to be managed. This ensures there is a definite destination to which the organisation is directed to, where it will be able to deliver on the various strategic objectives and maintain its competitiveness. This is accomplished through the practice of change management. Same as leadership, change is a mandate of the management (Odagiu & Piturlea, 2012). The management provides the intended goals and objectives that it aims to achieve through change and provides a roadmap to achieving this. The roadmap is the change strategy hence strategic change.
According to Alvesson, (2002), change management encompasses a set of processes that are employed to ascertain that significant changes are instituted in a manner that is controllable and systematic. This is the point where the role of organisational culture in organisational change comes in. An important task in change management is the alignment of organisational members and culture with planned strategic shifts in the organisation. This helps overcome issues of resistance to change. Consequently, this alignment enhances the engagement of the members of the organization and in turn ensures the achievement of the organization’s objective of effective transformation.
For sustainable organisational change, there has to be involvement of every member of the organization. This ensures that everyone clearly understands the current state and intended transformation of the organisation. As such, individuals own the change process and this makes managing change much easier. Implementation of the targeted strategies becomes easier with total employee commitment to the change process. The espoused values within an organisation will influence the effectiveness of the change management process. Hence an understanding of how organisational culture influences organisational change is crucial.
The Relationship between Culture and Change
Fred and Bell () point out that most organisations have difficulties managing change effectively. Much of the challenge though is related to difficulties associated with the culture of the organisation. As discussed earlier changing culture implies changing the beliefs, values, attitudes, norms shared across the organizations. Culture takes time to develop and similarly it might take time to change the value systems that organisational members share. Further, it has been demonstrated that an organisation’s culture is most often a combination of a set of subcultures and this presents a bigger challenge as changing the culture implies changing these subcultures as well (Colleen & Theresa, 2008).
Change does destabilize the status quo. Researchers in organisational behavior indicate that members of an organisation find it difficult to shift from the status quo due to various reasons includ...
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