Organizational Change

Here is an interesting look at why organizational change is so difficult.

…the study tested whether teams working on a command and control simulation adapted to structural change in the manner implied by contingency theories. Classic structural contingency theory holds that the structure of an organization must match the dictates of the environment. In dynamic environments the flexibility of divisional structures is beneficial while in placid environments the efficiency of functional structures is beneficial.

The findings, published last year in the Academy of Management Journal, introduced the concept of asymmetric adaptability to the field of organizational behavior. In general, the paper argues that certain types of adaptation are going to be more natural than others, and that the prior experience of working under an earlier system influences how people react to the adapted system. That is, the researchers questioned whether it is just as easy to go from A to B as it is to go from B to A. "For 30 years we've been teaching managers contingency decision-making," explains Moon, an assistant professor of organization and management at Goizueta. "You go to the guide and you say this decision needs to be autonomous or this decision needs to be participative. Contingency theory means that you make a decision based on whatever the needs are. Let's say for the first six months this theory says the style needs to be wholly participative and then some contingencies change in the environment and the theory says now you have to change your decision-making to be one that is totally autonomous. You make the decision without input. It makes perfect sense when you read the textbook, but not always in real life in terms of how people react and think about these things.

Sometimes managers get so wrapped up in theories and strategies that they forget what management is really about – people.

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