No Marshmallows, Just Term Papers
On completion of this chapter you should be able to:
• Understand the distinction between first-order and second-order change.
• Outline alternative concepts of change.
• Identify a range of common changes that confront organizations such as downsizing,
introducing new technologies, and mergers and acquisitions.
• Be familiar with a variety of issues that emerge at the “front line” for those charged
with managing these changes.
• Appraise your ability to engage with such changes in the future.
Some commentators suggest that, whereas organizational change prior to the mid-late
twentieth century was likely to be incremental and infrequent, by the latter part of the century such change was likely to be significant and traumatic.1 A study by Meyer, Brooks,
and Goes2 provides support to this position. Their study showed how changes in hospitals
in the 1960s were evolutionary and related to a stable environment. During the 1970s and
1980s, the environment changed with mounting concern about health-care costs, which led
to revolutionary strategic and structural changes in health-care corporations.
Other commentators take a different line, arguing that radical or discontinuous change
is not new to the current period but is something that occurred between 1900 and 1950.3
More generally, others suggest that too much attention has focused solely on large-scale
transformational change without appropriate acknowledgment of the role of other changes
in maintaining organizational survival.4
In this chapter, we pick up these issues in two ways. First, we distinguish between
different types of change such as first-order and second-order change. We identify alternative ways of conceptualizing change that try to move beyond categorizing change as
either first-order or second-order. Second, we identify three common organizational
changes that are likely to confront change...