Using your organization, Post a cohesive response based on your analysis of the Learning Resources and your professional experience. Be sure to discuss the following:Categorize the type of change that you have proposed for your organization and provide evidence for this categorization using the Mathur (2013) article.Identify which of the Graetz & Smith (2010) philosophies of change match your perspective of change.Compare how these different approaches to change relate to or differ from the Rational Approach Model within the context of your proposed change.Apply the identified philosophies to your proposed change. Analyze how well they “fit” the type of change that is being proposed, and identify any areas of weakness you have found within your proposed change.Conclude whether an approach, other than the Rational Approach Model, might better fit your organization and your proposed change. If not, explain how the Rational Approach Model is most appropriate in this instance.Your original post, will typically be 3 or 4 paragraphs in lengthWINTER 2007
V O L . 4 8 N O. 2
Peter M. Senge, Benyamin B. Lichtenstein, Katrin Kaeufer,
Hilary Bradbury and John S. Carroll
Collaborating For
Systemic Change
Please note that gray areas reflect artwork that has
been intentionally removed. The substantive content
of the article appears as originally published.
Collaborating For
Systemic Change
Meeting the sustainability
challenge will require
the kind of cross-sector
collaboration for which
there is still no real
precedent. It must be
co-created by various
stakeholders by
interweaving work in
three realms: the
conceptual, the relational
and the action-driven.
Peter M. Senge,
Benyamin B. Lichtenstein,
Katrin Kaeufer,
Hilary Bradbury and
John S. Carroll
or more than a century and a half, industrial growth has been weaving an everthickening web of interdependence around the world. Today, consumer
choices on one side of the planet affect living conditions for people on the
other side. Complex supply chains span the globe; for example, the average
pound of food travels between 1,500 and 2,500 miles before it reaches an American consumer.1 But these developments do not alter biological or social realities that have taken
shape over thousands and millions of years. Consequently, businesses operating within this
growing web are facing a host of “sustainability” problems: social and ecological imbalances
created by this globalization, such as a widening social divide between haves and have-nots,
global climate change, exponentially growing chemical and material waste and loss of
habitat and species.
Traditionally, businesses have thought such problems to be the result of economic externalities that require governments’ attention. But while governments are a crucial part of
lasting change, relying on governmental leadership to effectively deal with sustainability is
questionable for many reasons. The first limitation is geography. Even the largest governmental institutions are limited by their borders and can’t attack sustainability problems that
are global in nature. The second limitation is time. Elected officials are limited by their election cycles and struggle to deal with problems that develop over decades and don’t align
with their time in office. Moreover, due to increased fragmentation in democratic societies,
problems that transcend those of specialized interests tend to fall by the wayside.
For these and many more reasons, businesses are finding themselves compelled to exercise leadership around a host of sustainability issues. In particular, recognizing the
limitations of what can be done in isolation, many business leaders have already formed
collaborative initiatives like the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, the
Coalition for Environmentally Responsible Economies and Societies and the Global Reporting Initiative. In spite of such initiatives, however, there are challenges we are just
beginning to recognize. (See “About the Research,” p. 46.)
For example, in 1991, Unilever — the consumer products giant based in London — initiated a worldwide collaborative effort toward creating a global certification regime for
sustainable fishing involving fishing companies, distributors, retailers, local governments
Peter M. Senge is the founding chairperson of the Society for Organizational Learning and a senior lecturer at the MIT Sloan School of Management. Benyamin B. Lichtenstein is assistant professor of
management and entrepreneurship at the College of Management, University of Massachusetts, Boston.
Katrin Kaeufer is research director of the Presencing Institute and founding research member of SoL.
Hilary Bradbury is the director of Sustainable Business Programs at the Marshall School of Business,
University of Southern California. John S. Carroll is a professor of behavioral and policy sciences, MIT
Sloan School of Management. Contact them respectively at, b.lichtenstein@umb.
edu,, and
and nongovernmental organizations. Unfortunately, as soon as
this Marine Stewardship Council was formed, it was immersed in
controversy.2 Environmental NGOs interpreted aggressive goals
to certify major fisheries as a corporate drive to certify “businessas-usual” overfishing.3 Conversely, NGO efforts to contest
certification were criticized by the multinational corporations as
stalling progress toward sustainability. One of the first projects of
the MSC — to certify the Alaskan pollock fishery (the largest
white fish fishery in the world) — became a multiyear legal battle. Similar difficulties have plagued other efforts to establish
certification mechanisms in forestry, organic and nongenetically
modified foods.
Two conclusions stand out from efforts like the MSC. First,
recognition of the need for such collaboration is growing. Second,
it is exceedingly difficult to engage a diverse group of partners in
successful collaborative systemic change. Although some relevant
research exists,4 cross-sector collaboration at this scale is largely
unexplored. The need is great, but the challenge is equally great.
The Society For Organizational Learning
Beginning in the late 1990s, organizational members of the Society for Organizational Learning began several initiatives focusing
on collaborative solutions to a variety of sustainability issues.5 The
group’s goals have included the application of systems thinking,
working with mental models and fostering personal and shared
vision to face these complex sustainability issues.6
Through its work, SoL has learned that successful collaborative efforts embrace three interconnected types of work
— conceptual, relational and action driven — that together build
a healthy “learning ecology” for systemic change. Failing to ap-
preciate the importance of each is likely to frustrate otherwise
serious and well-funded attempts at collaboration on complex
problems. What follows are examples from particular projects in
which this learning ecology provided an important foundation
for substantive progress.
Conceptual Work: Framing Complex Issues
Making sense of complex issues like sustainability requires systems-thinking skills that are not widely shared. When effective
collaboration is the aim, developing a shared conceptual “systems
sense” is even more important.
Illustrative Conceptual Projects: Integrating Sustainability Frameworks
A dozen SoL organization members including Shell, Harley Davidson, HP, Xerox and Nike formed the SoL Sustainability
Consortium in 1999 to gain a better understanding of how learning tools could support their efforts to integrate sustainability
concerns into their business practices.7 One of the first conceptual projects that emerged in the consortium grew from the
confusion of members about the many different sustainability
frameworks and tools they encountered,8 including the Natural
Step,9 Natural Capitalism,10 ISO 14001,11 Zero Emissions Research Initiative,12 biomimicry,13 WBCSD Indicators,14 ecological
footprints,15 life-cycle analysis,16 and cradle to cradle.17 (See “Describing Different Sustainability Frameworks,” p. 48.)
This confusion became an issue because the proliferation of
frameworks and tools was actually slowing progress toward sustainability rather than assisting it, especially because people were
spending their time arguing about which framework was “right.”
In response the consortium frameworks group emerged — a
subgroup of the consortium that included members from BP,
Harley-Davidson, Plug Power, Visteon, MIT and U.S. Natural
Step — that came up with two key ideas for integrating and relating different sustainability approaches.18
management levels clarifies their interdependency and potential
complementarity. (See “Integrating Frameworks Across Levels,”
p. 49.) It also reminds us that management systems must be
homegrown. Strategic guidelines and organizational metrics and
practices must be tailored to the specific people, culture, market,
technology and history of any enterprise. For example, NIKE Inc.,
a company that prides itself on innovation for vitality and more
healthy personal life styles, naturally gravitated to biomimicry —
innovation inspired by nature. Today, led by hundreds of
independent designers who are part of Nike’s larger network, the
company is introducing a range of “biomimetic” innovations such
as compostable cloth, shoes that are put together with biodegradable adhesives and an entire line of organic cotton athletic apparel.
(Nike even helped to launch the Organic Cotton Exchange to
bring more organic cotton onto the world market.) Translating
1. There are three different worldviews that inform the notion of
sustainability.19 These are rationalism, which recognizes the need
for efficient utilization of resources through “meeting the needs of
the present without compromising the ability of future generations
to meet their own needs;”20 naturalism, which recognizes the need
to bring industrial systems into harmony with nature21 by not depleting resources beyond their rates of regeneration; and humanism,
which recognizes that sustainability depends on an intrinsic human
desire to be part of healthy communities that preserve life for ourselves, other species and future generations.22
Each worldview provides a vital
counterbalance to the others. For
example, popular rationalistic concepts like eco-efficiency can help
Data for this research were collected and analyzed by a team of four researchers who, over
businesses waste less, but a growing
a six-year period, participated in more than a dozen meetings of the SoL Sustainability Coneconomy can have an increasingly
sortium as well as being participant observers in all the collaborative projects. Using
adverse environmental impact, even
traditional ethnomethodology, researchers took extensive field notes of each of the conas it becomes more efficient in using
sortium meetings and discussed these in post hoc research teleconferences. In addition, 42
natural resources. By contrast, natusemi-structured interviews with participants were conducted, recorded and transcribed
ralism addresses the total impact of
over a two-year period. Participants were asked about specific collaborative experiences,
industrial activity on nature, but
as well as their personal and business aspirations for the consortium as a whole. In order to
unless it evokes a deep human degain a diversity of views, the research team chose individuals representing a range of orgasire to live within those limits, it
nizational ranks (senior, mid-level, and junior) and attendance levels (core, frequent, and
doesn’t necessarily motivate change.
recent). Data were analyzed and coded for emergent themes, using inductive qualitative
Similarly, humanism addresses the
methods appropriate for exploratory research.i At the same time, individual case studies of
deeper motivations for sustainabilcollaborative projects were developed and compared in order to identify emergent routines and practices being transferred across projects.ii We analyzed all these data for the
ity but does not, by itself, lead to the
presence of drivers and interaction patterns within the consortium as a whole, eventually
practical tools and metrics for condeveloping a single system map that identified the three domains discussed here.iii
necting business operations to
The study has been guided by the principles of participatory action researchiv and comsustainability outcomes.23
About the Research
2. Different sustainability frameworks relate to different levels in
the management system. Many
frameworks focus on metrics. This
is useful but narrow. Equally important is defining overall outcomes
and having guidelines for shaping
strategies. Organizational practices
that include or go beyond metrics
mediate between strategy and outcomes and constitute a critical
aspect of any business.
Seeing different sustainability
frameworks as working at different
munity action research,v aiming to build a community that builds knowledge in a way that
binds together the community. Thus, the researchers actively participated in meetings and
projects and, in addition, they periodically presented interpretations from their research engaging participants, facilitators and organizers in regular dialogues on its implications.
i. J.M. Corbin and A.L. Strauss, “The Articulation of Work Through Interaction,” Sociological Quarterly 34, no. 1 (March 1993): 7183; and M.B. Miles and A.M. Huberman, “Qualitative Data Analysis” (Thousand Oaks, California: Sage, 1994).
ii. R.K. Yin, “Case Study Research: Design and Methods” (Beverly Hills, California: Sage Publications, 1984); and K.M. Eisenhardt and L.
J. Bourgeois, III, “Building Theories From Case Study Research,” Academy of Management Review 14, no. 4 (October 1989): 532-550.
iii. H. Bradbury, D. Good and L. Robson, “What Keeps It Together: Relational Bases for Organizing,” in “Creating Collaborative Cultures,” ed. S. Shuman (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass/Wiley, in press).
iv. P. Reason and H. Bradbury, “Introduction: Inquiry and Participation in Search of a World Worthy of Human Aspiration,” in
“Handbook of Action Research: Participative Inquiry and Practice,” ed. P. Reason and H. Bradbury (London: Sage Publications,
2001), 1-14; and C.D. Argyris, B. Smith and B. Putnam, “Action Science: Concepts, Methods and Skills For Research and Intervention” (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1985).
v. C.O. Scharmer and P. Senge, “Community Action Research,” in “Handbook of Action Research: Participative Inquiry and Practice,” ed. P. Reason and H. Bradbury (London: Sage Publications, 2001), 238-249.
Clarity must not come at the expense of oversimplification and trivialization of complex issues. Conceptual
working groups can sometimes produce rousing action agendas that include little penetrating insight.
general ideas into specific organizational strategies, practices and
objectives takes imagination, courage, persistence, patience and
passion. In its final report, the consortium subgroup concluded,
“The sustainability challenge is fundamentally a learning challenge, a process that requires both ‘outer changes’ like new metrics
and ‘inner changes’ in taken-for-granted assumptions and ways of
Lessons From the Conceptual Work The learnings from conceptual
work done on particular projects suggest the need for collectively
built frameworks that create clarity without denying complexity.
Build community through thinking together and sharing.
When faced with difficult conceptual tasks, it is faster and easier
to leave the work to small groups of experts or to outsource it to
consultants or academics. But doing so bypasses the collective
intelligence embedded in diverse organizations and industries
and can result in output for which there is neither deep understanding nor commitment. In contrast, when conceptual
frameworks are developed collaboratively, the process builds
community and fosters more extended application and testing.
As one member reflected, “Working together to make sense of the
different sustainability frameworks showed us that we were not
the only company who was confused about sustainability and
helped us communicate what sustainability meant in terms of
outcomes and strategies in a way that worked in our culture.”25
Achieve simplicity without reduction.26 Clarity must not come
at the expense of oversimplification and trivialization of complex issues. Conceptual working groups can sometimes produce
rousing action agendas that include little penetrating insight;
similarly, turgid analyses of complex issues can leave people
better informed but no more able to take action. Nevertheless,
tools like system dynamics27 and stock-flow diagrams (see
“Naturalism and Sustainability,” p. 50) can help in digesting the
complexity of a problem while communicating key features that
guide action. Simple system models highlight key variables and
key interrelationships.
Relational Work: Dialogue and Collaborative Inquiry
Success in any collaboration between organizations rests on the
quality of relationships that shape cooperation, trust, mutuality
and joint learning.28 But supporting relationship building is not
easy, given the competitive culture and transactional relationships
typical in organizational life. Only rarely do groups move beyond
“politeness” or win-lose debates into more authentic and reflective
interactions characterized by candor, openness and vulnerability.
From its inception, members of the SoL Sustainability Consortium were committed to skills of reflective conversation and
working with mental models as a way to build more productive
relationships. As part of bringing new members into the community, a half-day, premeeting workshop introduced basic
tools of organizational learning; specific ground rules for effective conversation were made explicit, including such things
as confidentiality, radical respect for each other, the imperative
to “listen, listen, listen” and inquiry balanced with advocacy.
These steps were especially useful in ongoing projects in which
people deepened their understanding of one another through
genuine dialogue.
Illustrative Relational Projects: Women Leading Sustainability The
first Women Leading Sustainability dialogue was held in 2001 to
explore the distinctive nature of women’s leadership in sustainability initiatives. Over the years, participants developed a
repository of the group’s experiences, including stories about
leading sustainability initiatives, reflections on personal challenges and lessons learned through the eyes of their children. In
these ways, the group has lived the consortium’s dedication to
candor and cooperation.
The relational work of WLS has had tangible effects. For example, Simone Amber, founder of a corporate-funded, global
Internet-based educational project called SEED, said that the
honest dialogue of WLS helped her see how far sustainability efforts go toward helping others, especially those in developing
countries. In WLS, participants’ motivation for working on sustainability goes beyond business benefits by integrating work,
family and self; and the members have developed a sense of purpose, fueled by a desire for their work to benefit others. These
successes are embodied in the group’s description of itself: “What
matters most about this group is that we assert the importance of
taking time for reflection so that our learning evolves through
integrating action and reflection.” Action and reflection are necessary for good decision making, yet in today’s “just do it” culture,
time for learning is rarely practiced or valued.
Describing Different Sustainability Frameworks
When the Society for Organizational Learning first organized in 1999, one of its first conceptual projects was to find a way to
integrate and relate the existing sustainability tools and frameworks.
The Natural Step was founded by the
objectives and goals with measurable
ecological balance and social progress.
Swedish researcher Karl-Hènrik Robèrt
metrics that can guide the environmen-
The WBCSD has developed a set of eco-
in 1989, who developed the following
tal activities of organizations in most
efficiency indicators to help measure
scientifically based consensus defini-
progress toward economic and environmental sustainability in business.
tion of sustainability: In a sustainable
society, nature is not subject to system-
Zero Emissions Research Initiative was
atically increasing (1) concentrations of
launched by the United Nations Univer-
“Ecological footprints” was first
substances extracted from the earth’s
sity/Institute of Advanced Studies in 1994
coined in 1992 by the Canadian ecolo-
crust; (2) concentrations of substances
and was renamed Zero Emissions Forum
gist William Rees, and is used to
produced by society; and (3) degrada-
in 1999. ZERI promoted the concept that
manage the use of resources through-
tion by physical means; and in that
all industrial inputs can be completely
out the economy by measuring the
society, people are not subject to condi-
converted into a final product and that
total environmental impact of business.
tions that systematically undermine
waste products can be converted into
their capacity to meet their needs.
value-added inputs for another chain of
Life-cycle analysis enables a manufac-
production. In this context, the manufac-
turer to quantify how much energy and
Natural capitalism is a strategic frame-
turing line can be viewed as a series of
raw materials are used and how much
work based on four precepts: (1) radically
production cycles and recycling systems.
solid, liquid and gaseous waste is generated at each stage of a product’s life
increase the productivity of resource use;
(2) shift to biologically inspired produc-
Biomimicry studies nature’s models and
from creation up to and including the
tion (for example, biomimicry) with
imitates or takes inspiration from these
end of its period of use.
closed loops, no waste and no toxicity; (3)
designs and processes to create products
shift business models away from the mak-
and human processes. Based on research
Cradle to cradle articulates a set of
ing and selling of “things” to providing
from multiple disciplines, biomimicry
principles that seek to transform manu-
the service that the “thing” delivers
provides a framework for valuing not
facturing design from being purely
(thereby retaining ownership of products
what we can extract from the natural
opportunistic to focusing on the service
for recycling and remanufacturing); and
world but what we can learn from it.
that products provide. One key principle is the total elimination of waste
(4) reinvest in natural and human capital.
The World Business Council for Sustain-
in manufacturing; all components of
ISO 14001 was first published in 1996
able Development brings together 180
manufactured goods would be recycled
and specifies the operational require-
international companies in a shared
or reused, thus reversing the “cradle-
ments for an environmental manage-
commitment to sustainable develop-
to-grave” model that governs existing
ment system, providing generalizable
ment through economic growth,
Lessons From the Relational Work The learnings from relational
work done on particular projects suggest that the work must
begin with far-reaching and unorchestrated dialogue that in turn
sets the tone for systematic initiatives and practices.
Dialogue groups emerge from deep questions and longings. Although it is easy to focus on formal strategies and the mechanics of
change, we shape our collective futures in “conversations that matter.”29 For example, the Women Leading Sustainability group
explored how to connect their “inner” and “outer” lives, how to
develop a career path that can provide leadership within the corporation while also being consistent with their core values and how
best to engage stakeholders far beyond their organizations. Such
conversations help clarify important issues and provide a “lived
experience of how we naturally self-organize to think together,
strengthen community, share knowledge and ignite innovation.”30
Identifying powerful questions cannot be orchestrated or
planned. They emerge over time with shifts in strategic context.
The key is to recognize and engage them seriously in a spirit of
dialogue and joint exploration. For example, John Browne, chief
executive officer of BP p.l.c., has arguably done as much to legitimize the importance of climate change in the business world as
anyone over the last decade. This started with a day-long meeting
of climate scientists and a handful of BP top executives in 1996.
“The very fact that we took a whole day on this issue was significant,” says former BP chief scientist Bernie Bulkin. “Prior to that,
this was a subject that might have gotten 20 minutes on a management team meeting agenda. But, I remember Brown saying that,
‘We are grownups. We can think these things through on our own
and find out what we really believe. Maybe we come to the same
conclusion as the industry association, or maybe we come to a
different conclusion.’” This “thinking together” eventually resulted
in a historic speech Browne gave at Stanford University, in Stanford, California, in 1997, in which for the first time in public a
CEO of a major oil company broke ranks with peers. He declared
that it was sufficiently likely that climate change actually was occurring to warrant serious action, and he announced a series of
initial commitments that BP would make unilaterally to reduce its
emissions and begin investing in alternative technologies.
environmental deterioration worldwide. For example, falling
prices for coffee have created a “crisis for 25 million coffee producers around the world, [many of whom] now sell their coffee
beans for much less than they cost to produce.”31 Long-term
trends of falling prices for major agricultural commodities —
40%–90% declines over the past 50 years for wheat, soy, maize,
potatoes, dry beans and cotton — relentlessly drive down farmer
incomes.31 Whereas wealthy countries like the United States buf-
Integrating Frameworks Across Levels
Different sustainability frameworks relate to different levels
in the management system. Companies often develop customized or home-grown versions that combine elements of
various frameworks.
Nurturing relational space can be systematic and purposeful.
Although the deep questions that drive dialogue cannot be overly
planned, there are ways to encourage a relational ecology out of
which initiatives will self-organize. For example, many of the
founders of Women Leading Sustainability brought specific
methods to the group, like personal check-ins and basic principles of dialogue and learning. The provision of free space is a
must — and perhaps is the most challenging. Although it sounds
simple, free space to simply explore what emerges is virtually
nonexistent for today’s busy managers.
Once it is recognized and legitimized, deepening relational
space also infuses results-oriented work. Effective relational
work encourages diverging conversations, asks difficult questions
and helps confront dysfunctional practices and attitudes in our
organizations and ourselves. Such capacities also benefit actionoriented change initiatives.
Action-Driven Work: Building Collaborative Change Initiatives
Conceptual and relational work are important for effective collaboration, but they are especially important as they come
together to enable whole new levels of action. Effectively weaving
together all three dimensions requires a new approach that is
more personal and more systemic than traditional plannedchange approaches.
Illustrative Action-Oriented Projects: Collaborating For Innovation in
Food Systems Although most consumers in wealthier countries
are unaware of problems with global food systems, these are the
largest drivers of poverty, social and political instability and local
fer farmers with over $500 billion in annual agricultural subsidies,
developing countries do not have that luxury. As a result, the increasing production needed to meet demand and offset falling
incomes leads to vast environmental degradation (for example,
over 1.2 billion hectares of topsoil has been lost in the past 50
years — more than the area of China and India combined) as
well as increasing worldwide water shortages, since 70% of water
use is for agriculture. And yet, despite increases in production,
800 million people remain chronically underfed.
The Sustainable Food Lab project was organized around an
innovative approach to weaving together conceptual, relational
and action space and included about 40 upper-middle and senior
leaders.33 These leaders were committed to a deeply personal
action-learning process consisting of three phases: (1) cosensing in
order to develop shared understanding of current and emerging
realities, (2) coinspiring in order to share new knowledge and
commitment, and (3) cocreating in order to design prototypes and
pilot a small number of innovations conceived by the lab team.
The process began with extended dialogues that brought out
the different worldviews within the group, followed by five-day
“learning journeys” to Brazil designed to immerse team members
in the realities of the food system.34 Time for reflection and
dialogue offered windows into people’s different views of reality.
In the midst of a subsequent eight-day retreat for reflection
and planning, lab team members undertook two-day wilderness
“solos” to catalyze deeper intuitions and commitments. “In many
ways, the sustainability challenges stem from losing touch with
the larger natural and social world, so these solos seem important,” said project coordinator Hal Hamilton. In this case, when
the work finally turned to formulating prototyping initiatives,
the group discovered new levels of trust, commitment and energy. Eventually, eight different prototyping initiatives and
associated teams formed, vetted their aims and wrote initial plans
for getting to work. Several of these initiatives have evolved into
ongoing action projects in three areas: (1) creating shared standards for sustainable food production so that farmers, buyers and
the financial community can influence sound production practices, (2) restructuring specific supply chains to increase
opportunities for small and mid-size farmers and fishermen, and
(3) generating a “demand pull” for more sustainably produced
goods and for policies that reward sustainability.
The overall success of this approach to developing action projects
was summarized by one of the business participants in the following
way: “It amazes me that you can take a group that has been doing
individual things and build such a huge amount of trust.”
Lessons From the Action-Oriented Work The learnings from action-oriented work done on particular projects suggest the need
to take time to gather input from all stakeholders so that true
systemic thinking can give rise to sometimes radically innovative action.
It can take significant time to bring together the diversity of
players needed for effective collaborative action. The initial
Naturalism and Sustainability
The diagram below identifies three key waste streams: manufacturing (extraction and production), use and discard.
According to this framework, an industrial system is moving toward being in harmony with nature when (1) stocks of both
biotic and abiotic natural resources are not being depleted faster than their regeneration rates; and (2) all types of waste
move toward zero by (3) being converted into “nutrients” for other industrial or biological processes.
Natural Nutrients (Compostables)
Technical Nutrients
(Recycling and Remanufacturing)
Assimilation of Waste
in Use
Material Stocks (such as manufacturing plants or cars in use)
Material Flows (such as extraction
of mineral resources)
“The awareness of sustainability has been growing because systems thinking is enabling us to see more interdependencies. It is reckless to think of commercial sustainability in isolation from social or environmental sustainability.”
founders of the Sustainable Food Lab — Unilever, Oxfam, the
Kellogg Foundation and the Global Leadership Initiative — spent
over two years gathering a sufficiently large and diverse network
to undertake the project. While the scale of the challenge is huge,
in this case “getting the system in the room”— meaning that the
people who are present should represent all aspects and stakeholders of the problem being explored — is a common principle
for all system-change processes. This is challenging not only because of the time and effort involved but also because it includes
people who will see the world very differently. By defining the
project as a cross-sector, multistakeholder initiative, the founders
not only signaled that it would take time to engage an appropriately diverse group of participants but also that it would take
time to eventually generate action projects for which such diverse
participants could truly collaborate.
Systems thinking is essential for change, but it also can be
messy and uncomfortable. According to Andre van Heemstra,
a management board member at Unilever where the food lab
was founded, “The whole awareness of sustainability (in the
corporate world) has been growing because systems thinking,
in different forms, is enabling us to see more interdependencies
than we have seen in the past. It is those interdependencies that
make you conclude that it is more than stupid — it is reckless
to think of commercial sustainability in isolation of either social or environmental sustainability.” As a conceptual tool,
systems thinking can help to clarify interdependencies and
complex change dynamics.35 But at the same time, seeing systems together means allowing for different, sometimes
conflicting views.
Radical methods are needed for collaborative action work. The
basic toolbox from the organizational learning field — which
includes systems thinking, building shared vision and working
with mental models and dialogue — is a useful starting point in
collaborating for systemic change, but it is just a starting point.
New approaches for organizing complex change processes and
for large-scale dialogue like the World Café36 — a process for
leading collaborative dialogue and knowledge sharing, particularly for larger groups — will also be needed. Traditionally, group
and team dynamics approaches have sought to foster deep personal and interpersonal work, but much less is known about
opening minds, hearts and wills across networks that cut across
diverse organizational boundaries.
The Collaboration Imperative
Business as usual is reaching an evolutionary dead end. Efficiency improvements are useful but limited and, if extended too
far, become counterproductive. It is hard to have healthy businesses, no matter how efficient, in unhealthy social and
environmental systems.
Businesses, governments and NGOs increasingly will confront complex sustainability problems for which isolated efforts
are inadequate. Transactional models for improvement (pay for
performance, rewards and punishments, benefit-cost relationships, fear as the primary motivator) have never sufficed for
dealing with transformational or “adaptive” change, which requires a new mandate for learning across organizations,
industries and sectors. We are at the very beginning of recognizing and responding to this historic shift, and we need to learn as
quickly as possible.
Distinct but Not Separate Approaches Although it is convenient for
analytic purposes to distinguish the conceptual, relational and
action domains, our experience suggests that they interpenetrate each other in important ways. True systemic change means
enacting new ways of thinking, creating new formal structures
and, ultimately, transforming relationships. As Hal Hamilton of
the food lab says, “The relationships among leaders across normal boundaries might be the most crucial ingredient to major
Interweaving conceptual, relational and action work is especially relevant for the cross-sector collaboration needed for many
of the “big issues” confronting society. But there is little precedent
for such collaboration — protagonists from different sectors
often focus on building political leverage and power rather than
creating new knowledge and possibilities together.37 Only by integrating our thinking, relating and acting will projects like the
food lab become more common and successful.
Leadership and Transactional Networks While the limits of transactional ways of interacting are apparent, generating change at a
scale that matters often requires engaging large communities of
diverse participants with different motivations. Efforts like the
Leadership networks function like communities, transactional networks like markets. Markets are only viable
when actors perceive that benefits exceed costs. By contrast, communities revolve around a larger purpose.
food lab, by virtue of the deep personal and interpersonal work
involved, have many members who share a strong commitment
to the success of the enterprise as a whole. But specific projects
also must involve a larger number of individuals and organizations in order to be viable. This means including people and
organizations that are focused on narrower agendas and do not
share the same sense of responsibility for the whole.
The resulting leadership and transactional networks operate
on different logics. In effect, leadership networks function like
communities, whereas transactional networks operate like markets. Markets are only viable when actors perceive that benefits
exceed costs. From a transactional perspective, a collaborative
effort is attractive when there is a compelling value proposition,
a clear “business case.” By contrast, the logic that binds communities revolves around a larger purpose that matters to people. It
is not that they are indifferent to benefits and costs, but their
primary motivation comes from a commitment to the transcendent aim of sustainable agriculture and its long-term strategic
importance for their organizations.
Both types of networks matter for achieving large-scale systemic change. For example, articulating new industry norms that
require direct competitors to work together also require enough
participants who are genuinely committed to longer-term aims
for the industry as a whole. Failing to discern and appreciate
these differing motivations can result in stalled initiatives because
of an overreliance on transactional players in the early going.
Three Recurring Questions As we progress along this twofold path
of collaborating to achieve practical changes and building learning communities capable of ongoing collaboration, we continue
to wrestle with three questions.
1. How can we get beyond benchmarking to building learning
communities? Benchmarking is a well-established form of crossorganizational learning, but a learning community involves
much more than site visits or listening to PowerPoint presentations — it involves disclosure and vulnerability. Learning
communities are most evident when people are openly discussing real problems and asking for help, and they grow as people
offer help simply because they want to. Over time, they nurture
common commitment and relationships based on respect and
mutuality. Perhaps the biggest question is: Which people and
organizations will be willing to move beyond more common
transactional relationships to build the leadership networks
from which such communities grow?
2. What is the right balance between specifying goals and creating space for reflection and innovation? Most collaborative
efforts among businesses commence with explicit objectives.
But initiatives like the SoL Sustainability Consortium and the
Sustainable Food Lab did not; rather, they organized according
to a general intention to foster learning communities around
broadly articulated sustainability issues. This created a good
deal of anxiety but also provided space for exploration. Several
short-term projects and dialogue groups materialized but did
not achieve the critical mass to continue. On the other hand, no
one would have predicted the long-term importance of the
Women Leading Sustainability dialogue nor many of the Sustainable Food Lab initiatives aimed at radically shifting social
and environmental conditions. These unforeseen developments
and larger webs of collaborations would have been unlikely if
the issues agenda were predetermined or driven from a central
organizing group.
3. What is the right balance between private interest and
public knowledge? There is much artistry in building collaborative systemic change initiatives, but at the same time, most
of the key members of such networks are from for-profit businesses seeking competitive advantages. Commercial interests
and proprietary know-how must be balanced with public interests when tackling systemic issues. SoL believes that
balancing private and public interest means focusing on issues
that are larger than individual organizations, improving the
related systems that can benefit all and respecting that it takes
healthy organizations to address these issues. In this sense,
balancing public and private interests resembles the mantra of
all great teams and healthy communities: It’s up to each of us,
and no one can do it alone.
1. B. Halweil, “Home Grown: The Case for Local Food in a Global Market,” November 2002,
2. See;; and B. May, D. Leadbitter, M. Sutton
and M. Weber, “The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC),” in “Eco-labelling in Fisheries: What Is It All About?” ed. B. Phillips, T. Ward and C.
Chaffee (Oxford: Blackwell Science, 2003), 14-33.
3. P.E. Steinberg, “Fish or Foul: Investigating the Politics of the Marine
Stewardship Council” (paper presented at the Conference for Marine
Environmental Politics in the 21st Century, Berkeley, California, April 30May 2, 1999),
4. S. Waddell, “Societal Learning and Change: How Governments,
Business and Civil Society Are Creating Solutions to Complex MultiStakeholder Problems” (Sheffield, UK: Greenleaf Publishing, 2005).
5. See; S. Schley and J. Laur, “The Sustainability Challenge: Ecological and Economic Development,” The Systems
Thinker 7, no. 7 (September 1996): 1-7; and C.O. Scharmer and P.
Senge, “Community Action Research,” in “Handbook of Action Research: Participative Inquiry and Practice,” ed. P. Reason and H.
Bradbury (London: Sage Publications, 2001), 238-249.
6. P.M. Senge, “The Fifth Discipline: The Art and Practice of the Learning
Organization” (New York: Currency Doubleday, 1990/2006); P.M. Senge,
A. Kleiner, C. Robers, R. Ross and B. Smith, “The Fifth Discipline Fieldbook: Strategies and Tools For Building a Learning Organization” (New
York: Currency Doubleday, 1994); G. Roth and P.M. Senge, “From Theory
to Practice: Research Territory, Processes and Structure At an Organizational Learning Centre,” Journal of Organizational Change Management
7, no. 5 (February 1996): 92-106; and
7. P.M. Senge and G. Carstedt, “Innovating Our Way to the Next Industrial Revolution,” MIT Sloan Management Review 42, no. 2 (winter 2001):
24-38; and J. Ehrenfeld, “Learning and Change in the SoL Consortium”
(presentation at the Harley-Davidson Consortium meeting, Milwaukee,
Wisconsin, April 9-11, 2003),
8. For a more comprehensive list and short analysis of 21 different
frameworks, see J. Elkington, “Triple Bottom Line Reporting,” 2003,
9. See
10. P. Hawken, A. Lovins and L. Hunter Lovins, “Natural Capitalism: Creating the Next Industrial Revolution” (Boston: Little, Brown, 1999).
11. See
12. See
13. J.M. Benyus, “Biomimicry: Innovation Inspired By Nature” (New York:
Morrow, 1997); and
14. H.A. Verfaillie and R. Bidwell, “Measuring Eco-Efficiency: A Guide to
Reporting Company Performance” (Geneva: World Business Council for
Sustainable Development, 2000).
15. A. Sturm, M. Wackernagel and K. Müller, “The Winners and Losers in
Global Competition: Why Eco-Efficiency Reinforces Competitiveness: A
Study of 44 Nations” (Zürich: Verlag Rüegger, 2000); and www.ecological
16. See United Nations Environment Program/Society of Environmental
Toxicology and Chemistry cooperation on best available practice in lifecycle assessment,
17. W. McDonough and M. Braungart, “Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the
Way We Make Things” (New York: North Point Press, 2002).
18. B.J. Bulkin, J. Ehrenfeld, C. Gray, P. Morris, R. Saillant, T. Savino, T.
Reese and P.M. Senge, “Integrating Frameworks For Sustainability,”
working paper, SoL Sustainability Consortium, Cambridge, Massachusetts, May, 2000 (revised, January 2002),
19. These three terms were influenced by the writings of John Ehrenfeld. For example, see J. Ehrenfeld, “Searching for Sustainability: No
Quick Fix,” Reflections 5, no. 8 (2004): 1-12.
20. World Commission on Sustainable Development; see
21. J. Benyus, “Biomimicry” (New York: Morrow, 1997).
22. See
23. A similar project is now underway among consortium members,
seeking to clarify the social dimensions of sustainability. See SoL Societal Dimensions Workgroup, “Social Dimensions of Sustainability
Frameworks Document” (presentation at SoL Sustainability Consortium,
Brewster, Massachusetts, April 26-28, 2005),
24. The Working Group on Sustainability Frameworks, SoL Sustainability Consortium, Integrating Frameworks for Sustainability (Cambridge,
Massachusetts, April 2001),
25. Anthony Reese, director of engineering planning, Harley-Davidson
Motor Company, 2004.
26. This phrase is a favorite of Karl-Hènrik Robèrt, the Swedish oncologist and pioneer of The Natural Step framework.
27. G.P. Richardson, “Feedback Thought in Social Science and Systems Theory” (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1991);
and Senge et al., “Fifth Discipline Fieldbook,” 1994.
28. Y.L. Doz and G. Hamel, “Alliance Advantage: The Art of Creating
Value Through Partnering” (Boston: Harvard Business School Press,
1998); and L.C. Abrams, R. Cross, E. Lesser and D. Z. Levin, “Nurturing
Interpersonal Trust in Knowledge-Sharing Networks,” Academy of Management Executive, 17, no. 4 (2003): 64-77.
29. J. Browne and D. Isaacs, “The World Café: Shaping Our Future
Through Conversations That Matter” (San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler,
2005), 5.
30. Ibid.
31. Oxfam International, “Mugged: Poverty in your Coffee Cup” (Oxford,
United Kingdom: Oxfam 2002).
32. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, “The State
of Agricultural Commodity Markets,” 2004,
33. Business participants included Unilever, General Mills, Rabobank,
SYSCO (the world’s largest food distributor), Nutreco (the world’s largest
fish farming company) and Sadia (one of Brazil’s few multinational food
companies), along with smaller food companies and farm cooperatives.
Senior government officials from Europe and South America were involved,
along with global NGOs like Oxfam, World Wildlife Fund, Consumers International and The Nature Conservancy and local NGOs from Suriname,
Brazil, the United States, the Netherlands, Italy and Germany.
34. Scharmer describes the method-of-learning journey in C.O.
Scharmer, “Theory U: Learning From the Future As It Emerges” (Cambridge, Massachusetts: SoL, in press).
35. Sustainability Institute Report, “Commodity Systems Challenges:
Moving Sustainability into the Mainstream of Natural Resource Economics,” (Hartland, Vermont: Sustainability Institute 2003); and www.
36. Brown and Isaacs, “World Café”; and Senge, “Fifth Discipline,” 357-360.
37. As a comparison, see R. Bouwen and T. Taillieu, “Multi-Party Collaboration As Social Learning For Interdependence: Developing Relational
Knowing For Sustainable Natural Resource Management,” Journal of
Community and Applied Social Psychology 14 (2004): 137-153.
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Review of HRM, Vol. 2, April 2013
Employee Motivation, Adjustment and Values
as Correlates of Organizational Change
Anurakti Mathur
Amity Institute of Psychology and Allied Sciences, Amity University, Noida
Change is inevitable in any organization. Every one fears the unknown before the change
takes place, however after the change event there is a severe problems that the
employees may face with regards to adjustment to the disturbances that the change has
created. The present research sets out with an aim to understand the effect of
organizational change on Employee Motivation, Adjustment and Values in an organization
that has recently undergone massive organizational change. This research was conducted
on a sample of 50 employees who are working in an organization which has experienced a
major change in the recent past. Data was obtained through questionnaires devised for
the purpose of this research keeping in mind the above mentioned variables. The findings
show that the respondents have revealed the tendency to try and maintain moderate
levels of motivation after the change. They also try to make the desired adjustments that
are required in order to cope with the multiple roles in the organization. The values shift
from achievement to personal survival ones to maintain ones existence in the
organization and to function as a well-balanced individual.
Keywords: Motivation, Values, Organizational Change
Changing organisations involves building a network of relationships between
organisational entities that are defined and shaped (against various resistances) to
contribute towards some particular goal of change (Law, 2000). Or, as Brunsson and
Sahlin-Andersson (2000) suggest, the construction of entities so that they come to
resemble some general or abstract concept of organisation – perhaps one that is
perceived to be somehow more “complete”. In the context of recent public sector reform
in a number of Western countries, much organisational change can be seen as
representing attempts to reconstruct public sector organisations as more consistent with
popular notions of “modern management” taken from the private sector.
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An operational definition of ‘organisational change’
While the phrase ‘organisational change’ is much used in management discourse it is a
phrase, like the word ‘management’, that is rarely defined at a conceptual level. It is
clearly not a unitary concept as organisational change can be implemented using a variety
of instruments either in series or, as our data show, more often in parallel. Change may
be further explained in terms of its various types that the researchers have divided it into.
Planned versus emergent change
Sometimes change is deliberate, a product of conscious reasoning and actions. This type
of change is called planned change. In contrast, change sometimes unfolds in an
apparently spontaneous and unplanned way. This type of change is known as emergent
change. An important (arguably the central) message of recent high-quality management
of change literature is that organisation-level change is not fixed or linear in nature but
contains an important emergent element.
Episodic versus continuous change
Another distinction is between episodic and continuous change. Episodic change,
according to Weick and Quinn (1999), is ‘infrequent, discontinuous and intentional’.
Sometimes termed ‘radical’ or ‘second order’ change, episodic change often involves
replacement of one strategy or programme with another.
Continuous change, in contrast, is ‘ongoing, evolving and cumulative’ (Weick and Quinn,
1999). Also referred to as ‘first order’ or ‘incremental’ change, continuous change is
characterised by people constantly adapting and editing ideas they acquire from different
sources. At a collective level these continuous adjustments made simultaneously across
units can create substantial change.
The distinction between episodic and continuous change helps clarify thinking about an
organisation’s future development and evolution in relation to its long-term goals. Few
organisations are in a position to decide unilaterally that they will adopt an exclusively
continuous change approach. They can, however, capitalise upon many of the principles
of continuous change by engendering the flexibility to accommodate and experiment with
everyday contingencies, breakdowns, exceptions, opportunities and unintended
consequences that punctuate organisational life (Orlikowski, 1996).
Developmental, transitional and transformational change
Change can also be understood in relation to its extent and scope. Ackerman (1997) has
distinguished between three types of change: developmental, transitional and
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1. Developmental change may be either planned or emergent; it is first order, or
incremental. It is change that enhances or corrects existing aspects of an organisation,
often focusing on the improvement of a skill or process.
2. Transitional change seeks to achieve a known desired state that is different from the
existing one. It is episodic, planned and second order, or radical. The model of transitional
change is the basis of much of the organizational change literature (see for example
Kanter, 1983; Beckhard and Harris, 1987; Nadler and Tushman, 1989). It has its
foundations in the work of Lewin (1951) who conceptualised change as a three-stage
process involving:
• unfreezing the existing organisational equilibrium
• moving to a new position
• refreezing in a new equilibrium position.
3. Transformational change is radical or second order in nature. It requires a shift in
assumptions made by the organisation and its members. Transformation can result in an
organisation that differs significantly in terms of structure, processes, culture and
strategy. It may, therefore, result in the creation of an organisation that operates in
developmental mode – one that continuously learns, adapts and improves.
Systems thinking and change
Many of the approaches to organisational change found in the literature give the
impression that change is (or can be) a rational, controlled, and orderly process. In
practice, however, organisational change is chaotic, often involving shifting goals,
discontinuous activities, surprising events, and unexpected combinations of changes and
outcomes (Cummings et al., 1985; Dawson, 1996). Accordingly, change can be understood
in relation to the complex dynamic systems within which change takes place.
Systems are described as closed or open. Closed systems are completely autonomous and
independent of what is going on around them. Open systems exchange materials, energy
and information with their environment. The systems of interest in managing change can
all be characterised as open systems. In terms of understanding organisations, systems
thinking suggest that issues, events, forces and incidents should not be viewed as isolated
phenomena but seen as interconnected, interdependent components of a complex entity.
Areas of Change
Organizations typically respond to the challenges of new technologies, new competitors,
new markets, and demands for greater performance with various programs, each
designed to overcome obstacles and enhance business performance. Generally, these
programs fall into one of the following categories:
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• Structural change.–These programs treat the organization as a set of functional parts—
the “machine” model. During structural change, top management, aided by consultants,
attempts to reconfigure these parts to achieve greater overall performance. Mergers,
acquisitions, consolidations, and divestiture of operating units are all examples of
attempts at structural change.
• Cost cutting.–Programs such as these focuses on the elimination of nonessential
activities or on other methods for squeezing costs out of operations. Activities and
operations that get little scrutiny during profitable years draw the attention of cost
cutters when times are tough.
• Process change.–These programs focus on altering how things get done. Examples
include reengineering a loan approval process, the company’s approach to handling
customer warranty claims, or even how decisions are made. Process change typically aims
to make processes faster, more effective, more reliable, and/or less costly.
• Cultural change.–These programs focus on the “human” side of the organization, such
as a company’s general approach to doing business or the relationship between its
management and employees. A shift from command-and-control management to
participative management is an example of cultural change.
Two Different Approaches to Change
While there are many types of change programs, two very different goals typically drive a
change initiative: near-term economic improvement or an improvement in organizational
capabilities. Harvard Business School professors Michael Beer and Nitin Nohria coined the
terms “Theory E” and “Theory O” to describe these two basic goals.
Theory E: An Economic Approach
The explicit goal of Theory E change is to dramatically and rapidly increase shareholder
value, as measured by improved cash flow and share price. Popular notions of employee
participation and the “learning organization” take a back seat to this overarching goal.
Financial crisis is usually the trigger for this approach to change. Driven to increase
shareholder value, Theory E proponents rely heavily on mechanisms likely to increase
short-term cash flow and share price: performance bonuses, headcount reductions, asset
sales, and strategic reordering of business units. According to Theory E, all implicit
contracts between the company and its employees, such as lifetime employment, are
suspended during the change effort. Individuals and units whose activities fail to
demonstrate tangible value creation The CEO and the executive team drive Theory E
change from the top
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Theory O: An Organizational Capabilities Approach
The goal of Theory O change is to develop an organizational culture that supports learning
and a high performance employee base. Companies that follow this approach attempt to
invigorate their cultures and capabilities through individual and organizational learning.
And that requires high levels of employee participation, flatter organizational structure,
and strong bonds between the organization and its people. Because employee
commitment to change and improvement are vital for Theory O change to work, implicit
contracts with employees are considered too important to break. The leaders of Theory O
change are less interested in driving the success themselves than in encouraging
participation within the ranks, and in fostering employee behaviors and attitudes that will
sustain such change.
Employee Psychological Dynamics during Organisational Change
A debate exists over the reactions that individual employees have towards change. While
there has been a long tradition of researchers who argue that employees tend to resist
organisational change in general (e.g. Judson 1991; Odiorne 1981; Strebel 1996), Dent
and Goldberg (1999) argue that the term ‘resistance’ should be removed from the
literature as it does not reflect the complex interactions that occur during change. Piderit
(2000) takes a more conciliatory view suggesting that the ambivalence that employees
feel towards change does not always produce resistance, but generally produces
confusion. Regardless of what term is used, there is a wealth of literature that shows that
employee ambivalence to management change initiatives is often linked to dysfunctional
conflict during organizational change and associated with negative outcomes such as job
dissatisfaction and expressed grievances (Kirkman, Jones & Shapiro 2000). Employees
who are expending their energy on these types of reactions to change have less energy
for participating or contributing to that change. Therefore, identifying factors that
moderate this change resistance would be beneficial to both the individuals involved in
the change process and the organisation. Examining organisational behaviour,
researchers have identified change as having the potential to elicit a broad range of
emotion whether the transformation is a major restructure or minor re-organisation
(Mossholder et al., 2000).
Change can be perceived as a challenge or an opportunity and triggers positive emotions
such as excitement, enthusiasm and creativity (Goleman, Boyatzis & McKee 2002).
Change can also, however, be threatening and create negative emotions such as anger,
fear, anxiety, cynicism, resentment, and withdrawal (French 2001). Clearly change poses
significant challenges, both to those who implement and those who are affected by the
change (O’Neill & Lenn 1995). Management theory, however, tends to focus on cognitive
issues such as cognitive dissonance during change (Bacharach, Bamberger & Sonnenstuhl
1996). The result of this focus is consideration of solutions in dealing with attitudes to
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change, rather than emotional reactions (e.g. Brockner 1988; Brockner, Grover, Reed &
DeWitt 1992). A small body of research that has examined the role of emotion during
organisational change has largely focused on emotional responses such as stress (Terry &
Jimmieson 2003), and behaviours such as withdrawal and low organisational commitment
(Begley & Czajka 1993), thereby ignoring the emotive/cognitive processes that engender
such outcomes (O’Neill & Lenn 1995).
Work Motivation
Work motivation may be defined as the internal or external force that compels an
individual to perform optimally in the organization where he is employed. Work
motivation has been found to be positively related to job satisfaction, performance and
organizational commitment. The motives may be extrinsic or intrinsic in nature.
Extrinsic motives are tangible or visible to others. They are distributed by other people. In
the workplace extrinsic motives include pay, benefits, promotions etc. extrinsic motives
also include the drive to avoid punishment, such as termination or being transferred. In
each situation an external agent distributes these items. Furthermore, extrinsic rewards
are usually contingency based. That is, the extrinsic motivator is contingent on improved
performance, or performance that is superior to others in the same workplace. Extrinsic
motivators are necessary to attract people into the organization and keep them on the
job. They are also used to inspire workers to achieve at higher levels or to reach new
goals, as additional payoffs are contingent on improved performance. They do not,
however, explain every effort made by an individual employee.
Intrinsic motives are internally generated. In other words, they are motivators that the
person associates with the task or job itself. Intrinsic reward include feeling of
responsibility, achievement, accomplishment, that something was learned from
experience, feeling of being challenged or competitive, or that something was an
engaging task or goal. Performing meaningful work has also been associated with intrinsic
The two types of motivators are not completely distinct from one another. Many
motivators have both extrinsic and intrinsic components. Cognitive Evaluation Theory
suggests a more complicated relationship. This theory says that a task may be intrinsically
motivating, but when an extrinsic motivator becomes associated with that task, the actual
level of motivation may decrease. In other words, extrinsic motivation may actually
undermine intrinsic motivation. But there is considerable research evidence that extrinsic
reward may not detract from intrinsic motivation and at least for interesting, challenging
tasks, extrinsic reward may increase the level of intrinsic motivation.
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According to David McClelland there are three major types work motivators need for
achievement (n-ach), need for power (n power) and the need for affiliation (n aff). These
set of needs are said to guide and direct employee motivation in the organizational
The Power Motive: Winter (1973) has defined social power as “the ability or capacity of a
person to produce (consciously or unconsciously) intended effects on the behaviour and
emotions of another person”. The goal of power motivation are to influence, control,
cajole, persuade, lead, charm others and to enhance ones own reputation in the eyes of
other people. People with strong power motivation derive satisfaction from achieving
these goals.
The leading advocate of the power motive was the psychologist, Alfred Adler. To explain
the need for power- the need to manipulate others or drive for being in charge of othersAdler developed the concept of inferiority complex and compensation. He felt that every
small child experiences a sense of inferiority. When this feeling of inferiority is combined
with what he sensed as an innate need for superiority, the two rule all behaviour. The
person’s lifestyle is characterized by striving for compensation for the feeling of
inferiority, which are combined with the innate need for power.
Power motivation varies in strength from person to person and situation to situation in
the same person. It may be expressed in many ways; the manner of expression depends
greatly on the person’s socioeconomic status, sex, level of maturity, and the degree to
which the individual fears his or her own power motivation.
There are five categories of power:
 Reward Power: This source of power is based on a person’s ability to control
resources and reward others. In addition, the target of this power must value
these rewards. If the managers offer their people what they think are rewards, but
the people do not value them, then managers do not really have reward power. By
the same token, the managers may not think that they are giving rewards to their
people, but if they perceive this to be rewarding, the managers nevertheless have
reward power. Also managers may not really have the rewards to dispense, but as
long as people think they have it, they do indeed have reward power.
 Coercive Power: This source of power depends on fear. The person with coercive
power has the ability to inflict punishment or aversive consequences on another
person or, at least make threats that the other person believes will result in
punishment or undesirable outcomes. Managers frequently have coercive power
in that they can fire or demote people who work for them or dock their pay. A
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manager can also directly or indirectly threaten an employee with these punishing
Legitimate Power: This power source, identified by French and Raven, stems from
the internalized values of the other person that give the legitimate right to the
agent to influence them. The others feel that they have the obligation to accept
this power. It is closely aligned with both reward and coercive power because the
person with legitimacy is also in a position to reward and punish. But unlike
reward and coercive power it does not depend on the relationships with others
rather on the position or role that the person holds. Managers generally have
legitimate power because employees believe in the value of private property laws
and in the hierarchy where higher positions have been designated to have power
over lower positions. People can obtain legitimate power from accepted social
structure or from being designated as the agent or representative of a powerful
person or a group.
Referent Power: This type of power comes from the desire on the part of the
other person to identify with the agent wielding power. They want to identify with
the powerful person, regardless of the outcome. The others grant the person
power because he or she is attractive and has desirable resources or personal
characteristics. Managers with referent power must be attractive to their people
so that they will want to identify with them, regardless of whether the managers
later have the ability to reward or punish or whether they have legitimacy. The
manager who depends on referent power must be personally attractive to the
Expert Power: This source of power is based on the extent to which others attribute
knowledge and expertise to the power holder. Experts are perceived to have knowledge
or understanding only in certain well defined areas. The target must perceive the agent to
be credible, trustworthy, and relevant before expert power is granted. Staff specialists
have expert power in their functional areas but not outside them. Expert power is highly
selective, and, besides credibility the agent must also have trustworthiness and relevance.
Managers and staff specialists, who seldom have the other sources of power available to
them, often have to depend on their expertise as their only source of power. As
organizations become increasingly technologically complex and specialized, the expert
power of the organization members at all levels has become more and more important.
This is formally recognized by some companies that deliberately include lower level staff
members with expert power in top level decision making
Research Objectives
The research has been conducted with an objective of understanding the psychological
after-effects of organisational change on the employees of that organisation. For this
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purpose few aspects of the human psyche such as motivation (extrinsic and intrinsic),
adjustment(personal and professional), and values have been incorporated, though many
other aspects have been left out due to the constraints faced by the researcher and in
order to narrow down the scope of the study.
Thus the research has been carried out keeping the following aims in mind:
 To study the level of professional adjustment of employees after a change event.
 To study the personal adjustments that the employees make to fit into their
organisations after change has occurred.
 To study the level of motivation in employees after a change event with respect
to need for power, affiliation and achievement.
 To study the job related value system in-place in the employees after the change
Review of Literature
The present research is aimed to develop a theoretical understanding of psychological
dynamics of the employee during the organisational change, informed by a perspective
on employee work values, motivation and adjustment. This chapter provides a literature
review that introduces the issue of employee’s psychological aspect during organisational
change. The review draws primarily on the psychological literature focusing on aspects of
the human psyche like motivation, values and adjustment.
Research on Nature of Organisational Change
The increasing pace of global, economic and technological development makes change an
inevitable feature of organisational life (Cummings & Worley, 1997). Organisations are
often ineffective at managing the psychological components of organisational change
(Bennett & Durkin, 2000) and it has been noted that there is considerable room for
improving the effectiveness of change efforts (Porras & Robertson, 1992). Kotter (1995)
noted that as many as 90% of initiatives fail to achieve their strategic objectives mainly
due to human factors such as change related responses, attitudes and behaviours.
Organisations cannot achieve their strategic change objective until a critical mass of
employees has successfully completed their individual transitions (St Amour, 2001).
Armenakis, Harris and Mossholder (1993) argued that employee attitude towards
organisational change affect not only the success of the change process but other
important organisational outcomes such as job satisfaction, productivity, morale,
absenteeism and turnover (Eby, Adams, Russell & Gaby, 2000). The costs involved with
such consequences may be directly attributable to the distress that is created when an
organisation’s employees encounter constant change (Mack, Nelson & Quick, 1998).
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Large scale organisational change is defined as change that encompasses the entire
organisation, has occurred over a number of years, and involves fundamental
modifications in ways of thinking about the business, the organisation, and how the
organisation is managed (Nadler, 1988). This type of change has important and often
underestimated psychological implications for the employees. The necessary adjustments
can foster enthusiasm and opportunities for learning and growth or, alternatively, can
lead to frustration and alienation (Thompson & Van de Ven, 2001).
Judge, Thoresen and Welbourne (1999) argued that organisational change research has
been dominated largely by macro systems oriented focus and that a limited number of
studies of organisational have taken a micro level, psychological approach. Hence
assessing the impact of organisational change on employee attitudes and behaviours is
identified as an important research direction.
Despite widespread research on why and how organisations change, what constitutes
change is often taken for granted. Its definition is avoided. Studies based on individuals’
rational choice imply that change flows from purposive actions in accordance with an
objective, external reality whereas contextualism argues that change results from
institutional pressures, isomorphism, and routines. But both depict change as the passage
of an entity, whether an organisation or accounting practices, from one identifiable and
unique status to another. Despite their differences over whether reality is independent,
concrete and external, or socially constructed, both assume that actors (or researchers)
can identify a reality to trace the scale and direction of changes. This reflects modernist
beliefs that organisational space and time are unique and linear.
Many organisations are implementing major changes in the way they do business in
response to growing international competition, a significantly changing workforce,
increasingly complex and changing work environments, and other pressures (Lawler,
1986, Manz, 1992). As an organisation strives to maintain their competitive edge they are
reorganising, downsizing and implementing new technology. Ultimately, new and
additional job demands are placed on individuals within these organisations. These
changes are inevitable inn today’s work environment. Also inevitable is the fact that
employees must adapt to these constantly changing environments in order to survive and
prosper. Development of a body of knowledge about managing change is an important
body of knowledge for both academics and for general managers (Beer, 1987). The need
for adaptive workers has become increasingly important due to the fact that today’s
organisations are characterised by changing, dynamic environments (Pulakos, Arad,
Donovan, & Palmondon, 2000, Ilgen &Pulakos, 1999). In a recent article stressing the
attributes graduates need to enter the workforce, adaptability to the changing work
environment was at the top of the list (Gow & Mc Donald, 2000).
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In today’s turbulent, often chaotic, environment, commercial success depends on
employees using their full talents. Yet in spite of the myriad of available theories and
practices, managers often view motivation as something of a mystery. In part this is
because individuals are motivated by different things and in different ways. In addition,
these are times when delayering and the flattening of hierarchies can create insecurity
and lower staff morale. Moreover, more staff than ever before are working part time or
on limited-term contracts, and these, employees is often especially hard to motivate.
Organisational Change and Employee Motivation
Twyla Dell writes of motivating employees, “The heart of motivation is to give people
what they really want most from work. The more you are able to provide what they want,
the more you should expect what you really want, namely: productivity, quality, and
service.” (An Honest Day’s Work (1988). In his research London (1983) found that a
resilient workforce is better equipped to deal with the organisational change. He found
that organisations which have resilient and thriving employees have a more motivated
workforce that works towards the success of the organisational change. Also, findings
support the fact that a motivated and positive employees is very less likely to be prone to
turnover and absenteeism.
Change can be perceived as a challenge or an opportunity and triggers positive emotions
such as excitement, enthusiasm and creativity (Goleman, Boyatzis & McKee 2002).
Change can also, however, is threatening and create negative emotions such as anger,
fear, anxiety, cynicism, resentment, and withdrawal (French 2001). Clearly change poses
significant challenges, both to those who implement and those who are affected by the
change (O’Neill & Lenn 1995). Management theory, however, tends to focus on cognitive
issues such as cognitive dissonance during change (Bacharach, Bamberger & Sonnenstuhl
1996). The result of this focus is consideration of solutions in dealing with attitudes to
change, rather than emotional reactions (e.g. Brockner 1988; Brockner, Grover, Reed &
DeWitt 1992). A small body of research that has examined the role of emotion during
organisational change has largely focused on emotional responses such as stress (Terry &
Jimmieson 2003), and behaviours such as withdrawal and low organisational commitment
(Begley & Czajka 1993), thereby ignoring the emotive/cognitive processes that engender
such outcomes (O’Neill & Lenn 1995).
A research conducted by Chew Man Min and Petrovic-Lazarevic (2005) found that high
spirited employees are better equipped to maintain harmonious working relationships
with their colleagues and continue keeping high morale while facilitating the same for
others in their team and the organisation as a whole. It is imperative that managers
always maintain a pleasant workplace for the employees there by keeping them
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motivated as a dull, stressful and unmotivated organisational environment will bring harm
to nay business.
In any organisation, any change initiative which is not supported by the managers as
employees become demotivated and low spirited and cannot sustain the humungous task
of carrying out the change initiative on their own. In such organisations employees feel
totally lost and direction less and often fear the change event as there is no one to
motivate them or spur them on there by encouraging them to carry out the change. Thus
motivation is of utmost importance in to build a sustainable competitive advantage and
carry out change successfully.
All employees are generally afraid of the change involved in any business and the
impending effects that the change and the new organisational setting will have on their
job process and job situation. The idea and concept behind the change and the new work
process should be sold to the employees before the actual steps towards implementing
the change in the organisation are taken. Managers need to emphasise the benefit that
the change will bring for the employees and how it is not a threat but an enhancement to
their jobs.
Organisational Change and Adjustment:
The impact of organisational change on employee adjustment has emerged as an
important area of research due to high emotional and financial costs to employees and
organisations when the change is not managed well. Terry et al. (1996) found that the
application of Lazarus and Folkman’s (1984) cognitive phenomenological framework
proved a useful approach. This model focuses on how individuals appraise the change
event, their coping response and the extent to which access to personal and social coping
resources determine their levels of adjustment to corporate change. The success of
organisational change initiatives is often determined by employee attitudes towards the
change (Almaraz, 2000; Beer, Eisenstadt, & Spector, 1990). In addition to their effect on
the success of change initiative, employee attitudes towards a pending change can have
wider impact in terms of job satisfaction, organisational commitment, morale,
productivity and turnover intentions (Wanberg & Banas, 1997).
Another study by Judge, Welbourne, et al (1999) shows that variables like job satisfaction,
organisational commitment etc have a very positive correlation with how well an
individual copes with change. Research by Wanberg and Banas (2000) found that
employee attitudes towards change, acceptance of and opinion about change were
positively related to job satisfaction. Also employees with lesser tendency to adapt to ongoing change process has lower levels of job satisfaction, higher work related irritation
and a higher intention to quit their organisation. According to McManus et al. (1995) and
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Schneider and Bowen (1993), if an organisation is attempting to create a climate that
values change, the importance of change may be evident in employee attitudes,
relationships, job characteristics, availability and quality of resources and the context in
which the organisation operates. Hence to improve employee adjustment during change,
priority should be place on improving the organisational climate and developing aspects
of it which act as resources that assist employees to engage in positive appraisal of
Change for an individual is organisational usually means loss of power as responsibility
and accountability are shifted. It can also mean that critical relationships and new
patterns pf interactions are demanded. Additionally, there are potential losses in reward,
particularly status and monetary rewards as power shifts, and losses in identity as the
meaning people make of their work lives is threatened by changes in the organisation
(Beer, 1987). Theory and past research suggests that change is traumatic for individuals
within an organisation (Callan, Terry & Schweitzer, 1994, Burke, 1988). The degree of
trauma will depend on the nature of change. In the psychological literature, there has
been much discussion surrounding how trauma events shatter our fundamental schemas
(Janoff-Bulman, 1992). A person’s ability to change and adapt will depend on how strong
their beliefs (schemas) were prior to the change. In addition, how this cognitive process
occurs in an individual will dictate how well they adapt to the change (Janoff-Bulman,
In looking at change as a trauma, we can associate individual’s responses to organisation
change in a similar fashion as our brethren scholars do in the field of psychology. (Carver,
1998). A debate exists over the reactions that individual employees have towards change.
While there has been a long tradition of researchers who argue that employees tend to
resist organisational change in general (e.g. Judson 1991; Odiorne 1981; Strebel 1996),
Dent and Goldberg (1999) argue that the term ‘resistance’ should be removed from the
literature as it does not reflect the complex interactions that occur during change. Piderit
(2000) takes a more conciliatory view suggesting that the ambivalence that employees
feel towards change does not always produce resistance, but generally produces
confusion. Regardless of what term is used, there is a wealth of literature that shows that
employee ambivalence to management change initiatives is often linked to dysfunctional
conflict during organizational change and associated with negative outcomes such as job
dissatisfaction and expressed grievances (Kirkman, Jones & Shapiro 2000). Employees
who are expending their energy on these types of reactions to change have less energy
for participating or contributing to that change. Therefore, identifying factors that
moderate this change resistance would be beneficial to both the individuals involved in
the change process and the organisation. Examining organisational behaviour,
researchers have identified change as having the potential to elicit a broad range of
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emotion whether the transformation is a major restructure or minor re-organisation
(Mossholder et al., 2000).
Organisational Change and Dynamics of Employee Psychology
According to previous researches, redundancy affects survivors’ emotions, attitudes and
behaviours (Worrall et al., 1999). The emotions synonymous with grieving, such as anger,
anxiety and fear have been noted alongside decreased motivation, trust in the
management and levels of organisation commitment in subsequent jobs (Worrall et al.,
1999). However, Reilly et al (Reilly et al., 1993) suggested the individual becomes more
loyal to their own personal development rather than to the organisation itself. It perhaps
explains the origin of the concept “manager- as- mercenary” that has begun to appear in
literature (Worrall et al., 1999). It has been found that all forms of organisational change
have reduced managers’ sense of loyalty, motivation, morale and job security with the
impact on morale and sense of job security having been more pronounced than on loyalty
and motivation.
There is strong evidence that the perceived impact of change generally is to cause the
attrition of organisations’ skills and knowledge bases: this is somewhat paradoxical given
the recent emphasis on knowledge management and ‘the learning organisation’ in
current management discourse. Different forms of change have impacted on managers’
perceptions of their organisation as a place to work. While 47 per cent of managers in ‘no
change organisations’ have reported increased job fragmentation, this is much lower than
in those organisations where there has been some form of change and substantially lower
than in those organisations where redundancy without delayering has been used. Speed
decision making in post-redundancy organisational settings has been adversely affected
and we suggest that this has been brought about by an increase in managers’ role
overload, an increase in spans of control and an increase in task fragmentation among
surviving managers. These issues raise concern for the management of post-redundancy
survivors in terms of rebuilding their commitment, re-establishing their perception that
the organisation has some commitment to them, redeveloping their sense of job security
and rekindling their sense of identification with the newly downsized and restructured
The case study participant company is an international blue-chip manufacturing company
based in the UK, with 35,000 employees around the world. This company has a very
complex structure, containing four core businesses, each supported by an operational
unit. Moreover, under the operational unit, there are seven operational subunits spread
around the world; five of which are located in the UK. This case study focus on one of the
subunits, involved with around 1500 full time employees and nearly 100 temporary
contractors. Despite our being able to access more than one subunit in this manufacturing
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company, we take just one specific subunit as our research focus group in order to narrow
down uncertain variables.
Interviews were conducted in a semi-structured style, surrounding the restructuring event
and its process when the company adopted the activity three years ago. Interviewees
were chosen via the researcher’s point of contact, who was asked to provide a list form a
range of functions, locations and viewpoints. The business is dominated by shop floor
workers which, in general is labelled as a blue-collar group. In addition, the majority of
people working on the shop floor are male, leading to a higher proportion of male
interview participants.
There are fifteen interviews involved at this stage and each interview lasted 1.5-2 hours.
Interviews covered a wide range of employee discipline, from professional engineers to
manufacturing shop floor, from human resources officers to plant leaders, from managers
to trade union representatives. There are six themes summarised from this rich interview
resources. These six characters of Survivor Syndrome play a close “cause and effect”
relationship to each other. Hence, six characters can be treated as gear wheel shape with
the same operating function
Six Characters of the Survivor Syndrome Model
Numerous issues have been discussed and investigated concerning Survivor Syndrome.
There are various psychological themes arising from the organisational change as shown
by numerous research studies. In the last decade, more and more organisational
restructuring is involved throughout business activities. A Research spotlight would seem
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too focus on the most efficient and practical strategy for the business model and the
potential consequences of it. Perhaps we can explain it as a general global phenomenon,
as management analysts relate it to the bottom line of organisational priorities (Neuman
and Baron, 1997). Despite research in this area, researches mainly focus on solutions to
overcome these effects. Moreover, research emphasise a need to change the career plans
on the management level. Throughout the research literature, observations have been
made upon those impacts in the form of individual features, for instance depression,
unrest, upset, and low trust. Comparison of literature to this report will provide a
comprehensive framework of survivor syndrome consisting of implicit and explicit
psychological perspectives.
Themes can be explained by a matrix system which composes two dimensions, attitudinal
and behavioural. Certainly, some characters overlap between behavioural and attitudinal.
In the attitudinal aspect, there are trust and redundancy/ Dismissal process themes;
morale is classified in the behavioural aspect. Flexibility, communication and relationship
are revealed in both attitudinal and behavioural aspects. Without doubt, it is very
subjective and viewed on a personal basis to approach the categorising of six characters
into two aspects. There can always be arguments on whether this character belongs to a
certain aspect or not. Characters are classified relative to results from interview data.
Attitudinal and Behavioural perspectives of Survivor Syndrome
1. Flexibility 2. Communication 3. Trust 4. Relationship 5. Morale 6. Management
Workforce and morale has gradually changed throughout time, it is an obscure, indistinct
and abstract change. Within the interview data we have gathered, it is possible to give a
rough picture of this change. Some research studies have suggested that business
downsizing often fails because broad-based personnel reductions inadvertently cause
dramatic changes in the deep-seated, informal organisational structure when only
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incremental changes were intended (Fisher and White, 2000). Usually there are more
impacts on informal structure by business downsizing than a restructuring programme, as
it does not necessarily involve redundancy.
During a redundancy selection process, serious tension was noted in the workplace. In the
article “Aggression in the Workplace”, Neuman and Baron (1997) indicates that the
American workplace has been challenged by intense global competition, rapid
technological advances, volatile markets, and shrinking profit margins. Our case study
company is UK based and also faces the same challenges as describe above. There was a
redundancy decision responding to those changes. Increased stress and aggression
behaviours are especially evident at the workplace during processes of change. Our
interview data shows there is even verbal abuse in some cases, during a redundancy
selection process, similar to Buss’s (1961) workplace aggression category of active and
direct verbal abuse. In our interview there were also some instances of bullying in
different groups, found during the integration of two workforces, new incoming staff
would be bulled at the new plant by the old staff. Within the workforce, there were
instances where younger people bully older more experienced staff. Young staff would
believe older stuff would think old staff would receive a larger pay off once they stand for
voluntary severance; in contrast, themselves who would not benefit from the voluntary
scheme. An intermediate supervisor gave the observation:
…younger people thought it should be the older people gone, why don’t they just
go… if they only have two more years to go, why don’t they just go now and save
the jobs..…(15, 18: 7658-7659)
These are rare cases during a redundancy event, but can seriously contribute to the
development of tension in the workplace. Some interview data shows a lack of
harmony since redundancy took place and shows no signs of recovery. There is an
interesting phenomenon revealed at the workplace, absence, which dropped during
the period when redundancy decisions were made. An intermediate management
… after we have got rid of everybody…and everybody understood what was in the
matrix, what we involved in it, then absence just went down…and it is now just
starting to go back again because people think, well, we know what is going on, we
know we are going to be safe now…(15, 21:7723-7725)
So absence reduced because of fear of job fears. This is not necessarily a positive finding
as attendance motivated by fear, may manifest as lack of trust and loyalty later. Despite
the event finishing and everybody returning to their jobs, there remained background
comments and views. Most issues discussed would be whether they think the company
chose the correct candidate to leave; if the whole process was done “fairly”; or if anyone
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had special treatment. In fact, not only shop floor staff has doubts about some issues,
some management level staff also had suspicions. One concern is how to rebuild job
security, as literature suggests survivor syndrome is caused by a lack of such a factor
(Sahdev, 2004).
How much can be learned from the private sector?
Golembiewski, Proehl and Sink (1982) found that public sector interventions displayed a
pattern of results very similar to private sector programmes (84% positive in public sector
versus 89% positive in private sector organisations). Robertson and Seneviratne (1995)
studied organisational outcomes in terms of work setting, individual behaviour and
organisational performance, and concluded that there were no overall significant
differences between public and private sectors regarding the amount of change induced
by the 47 planned change interventions they studied.
These findings should be interpreted with care. Change in public sector organisations, and
particularly in those populated by influential professional groups, is beset by complexity
of a different order from that in more hierarchical organisations. Success is likely to
depend as much on the quality of implementation, on the sensitivity to different points of
view and on the degree of support from influential organisation members as on the
soundness of the principles of the change approach adopted. Much of the evidence from
the manufacturing sector demonstrates that top management involvement is critical to
success; however, in translating these findings to the health care setting we must
remember the importance of opinion-formers within the professions who may not see
themselves as top management.
The scale of change is another important consideration when drawing lessons from other
sectors. Small, focused interventions may have an equal potential for success in most
contexts while more ambitious change initiatives are challenged, diverted and deflected
by the inherent complexity, traditions…
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