According to Johnson et al. (2006) strategy is ‘the direction and scope of an organisation over the long term, which achieves advantage for the organisation through its configuration of resources within a changing environment, to meet the needs of markets and fulfil stakeholders’ expectations’. With always more dynamic and complex environmental conditions, strategies are constantly changing and need to be tailored to different contexts, situations and contingencies. For this reason the effective management of changes is fundamental for the survival and success of the organisation and different approaches and means of managing change are necessary for different types of change.
This brief literature synthesis will first analyse the most important issues on organisational changes identified by the literature during the last three decades further to Armenakis (1999) and Balogun and Hope Hailey (1999). It will then present the Transitional Curve (Gingerella, 1993) as a tool that can help to better understand the process of change management. Finally, it will review how the literature considers changes either a threat or an opportunity and what is the role played by the company culture in the process.
Armenakis (1999) identifies content issues as the first theme to research on matters of organisational changes. Changes can deal with transformation of the organisation through the adoption of new staff behaviours (long term changes) or with periods of transactions (short-term changes). Changes can occur in terms of their scope, when they involve simple realignment within the current organisational beliefs and assumptions (paradigm) or need transformation of the organisation; or in terms of their nature, achieved through incremental changes or through immediate action (Balogun and Hope Hailey, 1999).
Combining scope and nature Johnson et al. (2006) define four types of strategic changes:
• adaptation, changes occurring incrementally within the current paradigm of the organisation;
• reconstruction, rapid and sudden changes that do not fundamentally change the paradigm of the organisation;
• evolution, is a change in strategy that requires paradigm change, but over time; and
• revolution, requiring rapid and major strategic and paradigm change.
Other more contextual factors related to the organisational external and internal environment can play an important role in the process of strategic change such as the time available for the change, the need of preservation of certain aspects of the organisation, the degree of homogeneity or diversity in the organisation, the capability, capacity and readiness for change and the power to make change happen (Balogun and Hope Hailey, 1999).
Several models have been developed in the literature in order to monitor and better understand the actions undertaken during the change process such as the Judson (1991) model of 5 phases or the Kotter (1995) model made of eight steps as...