Killing the sacred cow: Radical organisational change as seen through the eyes of change agents

Meyer, Stephan (2019) Killing the sacred cow: Radical organisational change as seen through the eyes of change agents. PhD thesis, University of Gloucestershire.

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Abstract

Within the family of changes that take place in organisations, incremental change is better known than its wilder sibling, radical change. While there is an extensive literature concerning the nature and implementation of incremental change, radical change is primarily treated theoretically and conceptually, lacking in an empirical foundation and the perspectives of experienced change agents. This omission is especially evident with respect to the population of interim managers, who tend to play critical roles as change agents and as knowledge bearers. The study that forms the basis of this thesis was designed to address this gap in extant knowledge. The broad aim of the research was to explore change agents’ perceptions, beliefs, and experiences regarding the nature of radical organisational change, when it is necessary, how it should be implemented, and how its outcomes may be evaluated. To fulfil this aim, in-depth interviews were conducted with 20 experienced change agents: a sample of ten interim managers experienced in leading radical organisational change, five consultants who specialise in organisational change and five line managers who were experienced in its implementation. The research generated 176 diverse insights concerning radical organisational change, both within and across the three samples. While the interim managers offered strong pragmatic convictions, straight “from the gut”, the consultants offered a more intellectual and theory-laden approach to the interpretation of radical change, with the line managers situated somewhere between these two worlds. These insights were condensed into a set of key findings and contributions to knowledge, providing an enhanced understanding of radical organisational change that is informed by the perspectives of experienced change agents. The study’s findings also comprise informed contributions to practice, including a conceptual framework that summarises the leadership challenges that are inherent to radical organisational change.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Thesis Advisors:
Thesis AdvisorEmailURL
Watts, Gedgwatts@glos.ac.ukUNSPECIFIED
Bibby, Andrewabibby2@glos.ac.ukUNSPECIFIED
Uncontrolled Keywords: Radical organisational change; Change agents; Leadership
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor > HD28 Management. Industrial Management
H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor > HD28 Management. Industrial Management > HD58 Organizational behavior, change and effectiveness. Corporate culture
Divisions: Schools and Research Institutes > School of Business and Technology > Business, Entrepreneurship and Financial Management
Depositing User: Susan Turner
Date Deposited: 12 Feb 2020 11:57
Last Modified: 12 Feb 2020 11:57
URI: http://eprints.glos.ac.uk/id/eprint/7780

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