Being an ‘organism’ all organizations are prone to change; in fact change is part of its nature. Organizations always seek to maximize growth as much as longevity, and in order to ensure this growth and longevity a thriving organization must adjust in tandem with the changing times. But even as the organization seeks and adopts changes it may benefit from in the long term, these changes variably affect the lives and careers of the people who comprise it. For some the necessary adjustments are unsettling because they usually detract from the routines that organizational personnel have become accustomed to. Changes also tend to deviate from the longer-term expectations individuals have set for themselves under the conditions prior to the change, thereby creating anxieties and uncertainties that challenge the employee’s trust in his organization. Similar problems arise with respect to the organization’s other stakeholders which tend to threaten the successful adoption of the change.
The literature review explores the complex issues that attend the adoption of change in organizations. Repercussions pertaining to the organization itself as well as its stakeholders shall be examined, and insights which shall be gathered from the wealth of academic literature on organizational change shall be integrated to support a furtherance of future studies.
Drivers of organizational change There are three categories of forces which exert pressure for organizational change, according to Tichy (1982, as cited by Westover, 2010, p. 46), namely technical, political, and cultural forces. Technical forces refers to imperatives for change created by changes in technology and economic conditions in the environment, including the development of advance equipment, changing interest rates and increase in competition. Political forces pertains to pressures for change brought about by issues associated with power, influence, and resource allocation; these include issues of who holds authority, who are rewarded, and who are empowered to decide how rewards and resources are allocated. Finally, cultural forces refers to those pressures urging change as a result of a shift in the collective values and beliefs of people, that is, the demographic composition and cultural diversity of the labor pool and societal values (Westover, 2010). The change agent (typically the human resources professional in an organizational setting) will perform a vital role, described in the subsequent discussion below, in bringing together both management and employees to effectively address these pressures by fostering effective change strategies. Numerous drivers of organizational change have been identified over the decades, but there has been a confluence of studies which incline towards some commonly cited factors. In a theory-building survey of academic studies, Whelan-Berry and Somerville (2010) have determined these to be: (1) the acceptance of a change vision; (2) leaders’ change related activities; (3) change related communication; (4) change related training; (5) change related employee participation; (6) aligned human resources practices; and (7) aligned organization structure and control processes (p. 182) Organizational structure as tool and barrier to organizational change According to Hannan, Polos and Carroll (2003), there are four types of processes that delay and may even prevent organizational change. These are: structural processes, that include the consequences of intricacy of the adopted change and the viscosity or sluggishness of response; institutional processes