Change and its leadership: is it time for a change in our thinking?
Higgs, Malcolm (2006) Change and its leadership: is it time for a change in our thinking? In, European Consortium for the Learning Organisation (ECLO) Conference, Praha, CZ,
Full text not available from this repository.
Although the growing need for change in organisations it is widely acknowledged it is asserted that up to seventy percent of change initiatives fail (e.g. Kotter, 1995; Carnall, 1999; Higgs and Rowland, 2000). Whilst there have been attempts to understand the reasons for failure these have been seen as inconclusive, and a need for further empirical work has been identified (e.g. Buchanan, Claydon and Doyle, 1999). In parallel with the growth in the body of literature concerned with change has been a significant growth in that on its leadership, with some asserting that the root cause of many change problems is leadership behaviour (Buchanan et al, 1999) and the apparent inability to learn from previous experiences.
This paper begins by exploring the change literature and, in particular the broadening of this literature with the inclusion of complexity and evolutionary theories (e.g. Depew and Weber, 1995; Aldrich, 1999; Lichtenstein, 1996). Whilst the literature is large and diverse the authors propose that approaches to change may be classified in terms of two axes viz; the extent to which change approaches seek uniformity or accept differentiated implementation and the extent to which change is seen as linear or non-linear. From this classification a typology of change approach is proposed. In examining change the authors also examine emerging thoughts from the change leadership literature. Combining these different streams of literature leads to three core research questions, which are:
1. What approach to change management is likely to be most effective in today’s business environment?
2. What leadership behaviours tend to be associated with effective change management? and
3. Are leadership behaviours related to the underlying assumptions within different approaches to change?
These questions are explored initially using a case study methodology. The study was designed using a collaborative research approach (Adler, Shani and Styhre, 2003; Huff and Jenkins, 2002) and involved seven organisations and forty informants who provided seventy change stories. The data was initially analysed as qualitative data and subsequently (following participant lines of inquiry) quantitatively (Parry and Meindl, 2002). Finally a follow-up survey-based study was used to test the initial findings and seek further insights.
Both qualitative and quantitative data indicated that change approaches which were based on assumptions of linearity, were unsuccessful in a wide range of contexts, whereas those built on assumptions of complexity were more successful. Approaches classified as Emergent change (Johnson, 2001; Wheatley, 1993, Wheatley and Kellner Rogers, 1996) were found to be the most successful across most contexts. In examining leadership behaviours three broad categories emerged (Shaping Behaviour, Framing Change, Creating Capacity). Whilst all three categories were found within each distinct approach to change, their relative dominance followed a pattern which differed between approaches. Furthermore, analyses of the data indicated that leader-centric behaviours (Shaping Behaviour) not only were unrelated to successful change, but impaired change implementation.
The implications of the findings are discussed together with suggestions for further research designed to both build on this study and address its acknowledged limitations
|Item Type:||Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)|
|Subjects:||H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor > HD28 Management. Industrial Management|
|Divisions:||University Structure - Pre August 2011 > School of Management
|Date Deposited:||29 May 2008|
|Last Modified:||16 Jun 2011 14:30|
|Contributors:||Higgs, Malcolm (Author)
|RDF:||RDF+N-Triples, RDF+N3, RDF+XML, Browse.|
Actions (login required)