Transformational and Coercive Strategies for Planned Organizational Change: Beyond the O.D. Model

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The literature on Organization Development (O.D.) represents a prolific contribution to theories of organizational change. On the whole, the O.D. model presents an ideology of gradualism, for effective change is seen to proceed by small, incremental adjustments. Usually change is seen also as synonymous with growth, and the strategies for organizational change advocated typically involve widespread employee participation to ensure emergent consensus among the key parties affected. By contrast, what we can observe happening with increasing frequency in contemporary organizations is markedly different. We see the dramatic effect of takeovers, mergers and closures, often involving large-scale firing of employees, and massive, almost instantaneous restructuring. The strategies of change adopted in these situations are often top-down, and achieved coercively by dictates from outsiders, from new imposed chief-executives, or through the charismatic leadership of a single individual using substantial institutional and personal power, often combined with a hidden agenda of political manoeuvres. Advocates for these latter approaches are more often found among corporate strategists, financial experts and senior managers than among behavioural scientists. In advocating rapid coercive restructuring, they often express impatience and contempt for O.D. approaches, which they regard as trivial and time consuming. It is becoming increasingly apparent that the…

Transformational and Coercive Strategies for Planned Organizational Change: Beyond the O.D. Model’, DexterC.Dunphy and DougA.StaceOrganization Studies, 9 (3) (1988): 317–334. Published by Sage Publications Ltd. Reprinted with permission.
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