Stimulating Forces for Organizational Change

What makes an organization to think about change? There are a number of specific, even obvious factors which will necessitate movement from the status quo. The most obvious of these relate to changes in the external environment which trigger reaction. An example of this in the last couple of years is the move by car manufacturers and petroleum organizations towards the provision of more environmentally friendly forms of ‘produce’. However, to attribute change entirely to the environment would be a denial of extreme magnitude. This would imply that organizations were merely ‘bobbing about’ on a turbulent sea of change, unable to influence or exercise direction. The changes within an organization take place in response both to business and economic events and to processes of management perception, choice and action.

Managers in this sense see events taking place that, to them, signal the need for organizational change. They also perceive the internal context of change as it relates to structure, culture, systems of power and control, which gives them further clues about whether it is worth trying to introduce change. But what causes change? What factors need to be considered when we look for the causal effects which run from A to B in an organization? The change may occur in response to the:

  • Changes in technology used
  • Changes in customer expectations or tastes
  • Changes as a result of competition
  • Changes as a result of government legislation
  • Changes as a result of alterations in the economy at home or abroad
  • Changes in communication media
  • Changes in society’s value systems
  • Changes in the supply chain
  • Changes in the distribution chain

Internal changes can be seen as responses or reactions to the outside world which are regarded as external triggers. There are also a large number of factors which lead to what are termed internal triggers for organizational change. Organization redesigns to fit a new product line or new marketing strategy are typical examples, as are changes in job responsibilities to fit new organizational structures. The final cause of change in organizations is where the organization tries to be ahead of change by being proactive. For example, where the organization tries to anticipate problems in the marketplace or negate the impact of worldwide recession on its own business, proactive change is taking place.

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