Typically, the concept of organizational change is in regard to organization-wide change, as opposed to smaller changes such as adding a new person, modifying a program, etc. Examples of organization-wide change might include a change in mission, restructuring operations (e.g., restructuring  to  self-managed  teams,  layoffs,  etc.),  new  technologies,  mergers,  major collaborations, “rightsizing”, new programs such as Total Quality Management, re-engineering, etc.  Some  experts  refer  to  organizational  transformation.  Often  this  term  designates  a fundamental and radical reorientation in the way the organization operates.


Change should not be done for the sake of change — it’s a strategy to accomplish some overall

goal. Usually organizational change is provoked by some major outside driving force, e.g.,

substantial cuts in funding, address major new markets/clients, need for dramatic increases in

productivity/services, etc. Typically, organizations must undertake organization-wide change to

evolve to a different level in their life cycle, e.g., going from a highly reactive, entrepreneurial

organization to more stable and planned development. Transition to a new chief executive can

provoke organization-wide change when his or her new and unique personality pervades the

entire organization.

Typically there are strong resistances to change. People are afraid of the unknown. Many people

think things are already just fine and don’t understand the need for change. Many are inherently

cynical about change, particularly from reading about the notion of “change” as if it’s a mantra.

Many doubt there are effective means to accomplish major organizational change. Often there

are conflicting goals in the organization, e.g., to increase resources to accomplish the change

yet concurrently cut costs to remain viable. Organization-wide change often goes against the

very values held dear by members in the organization, that is, the change may go against how

members believe things should be done. That’s why much of organizational-change literature

discusses needed changes in the culture of the organization, including changes in members’

values and beliefs and in the way they enact these values and beliefs.

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