Organizational Change and Crisis Management Concept- A Short Introduction

change 1The Nature of Organizational Change

The perspective on organizational change is divided into two major schools of thought. The first derived its framework in classical economic theory, which sees business organizations as a ‘purposeful entity’ whose behaviours are more natural rather than planned and where changes emerge, evolve and incremental and stand as an integral part or result of organizational development (Tsoukas and Chia, 2002, Weick and Quinn, 1999).  Within this perspective change therefore is seen the norm rather than exception. It is a part of organizational routines with an intrinsic potential for on-going organizational change. The holders of this perspective also believe that environment within which we (organizations) operate is neither a stable nor a predictable one. We all live in a world of constant flux and therefore change cannot be entirely designed.  Change is seen as ‘emergent’ as opposed to ‘deliberate’ phenomenon.  It emerges as organizations evolved and as they make strategic choice over time. In making these evolutionary choices, changes would occur naturally to necessarily match the need of the organizations as they formulate, plan and implement strategic actions and as they aim to strengthen their competitive postures within the industry the choose to compete in (Mintzberg and Waters, 1985).

The second believes that organizations lack the intrinsic ability to emanate the necessary change to cope with the threats and opportunities existing within their evolving environment (Wilkinson and Melahi, 2005). Hence, instead of doing business as usual, to enact ‘pluralism and change’, Kilduff and Dougherty (2000) argue that we need to challenge the hegemony and classical interpretation of an organization as rational entities. Organizations need to strategically formulate, plan and manage changes to, on the one hand, deliberately engage in a ‘conscious, purposeful search for innovation opportunities’ (Drucker 1999); and, on the other, anticipate, avoid and/or mitigate risks and crisis (Turner, 1976; Pauchant and Mitroff, 2011).

change 2To be a crisis prepared organization in an ever-changing world

The thinking in crisis management are also divided between those who believe that crisis are in fact not preventable and therefore focus on how best to respond to them once these inevitable crisis occur; and, those who place their focus on identifying ways to manage or avert organizational crises (Pearson and Clair, 1998, 60).   To the former, the inevitability of crisis means that the key for a successful management therefore lies in mitigating the potential impacts of crisis when do occur.    This in line with the belief that the contemporary business environment is somehow more volatile, less predictable and all business organizations are living on borrowed time within this Hobbesian world where life is one ‘nasty, brutish and short’ (Hobbes, 2009).  Crisis is part of organizations’ everyday living.  It is ‘the norm rather than exception’. (Paraskevas, 2006) and that “anytime you are not in a crisis, you are instead in a pre-crisis, or a prodromal mode” (Fink, 1986). The ‘prodromal crisis stage is, according to Paraskevas (2006), is the time crisis has started to creep in but seldom felt and therefore unlikely to result in any action taking.  This school of thought therefore aim at minimizing the impact of crisis (the potential loss) as it passes a ‘prodromal stage and reaches the ‘acute stage’ where “management can rarely recover the lost ground and the crisis will start causing damage, the extent of which depends on the preparedness of the organization and the effectiveness of its crisis response”change 3


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