The Nature of Organizational Change

Organizations introduce changes through people. Unless the people are willing to accept the need and responsibility for organizational change, intended changes can never be translated into reality. In addition, individuals have to learn to adapt their attitudes and behavioral patterns to constantly changing environments.

Management of change involves both individual and organizational change. Individual change is behavioral change, which is determined by individual characteristics of members such as their knowledge, attitudes, beliefs, needs, expectations and skills. It is possible to bring about a total change in an organization by changing behaviors of individual members through participative and educative strategies. Although, the degree of difficulty involved in the change and the time taken to bring about the change will depend on the target of change.  The attitudes towards change are largely dependent on the nature of the situation and the manner in which changes are initiated and executed.

Changing individual behavior is more time consuming and a difficult task. The linkage between attitude and behavior is not direct and therefore changing behavior is more difficult than changing attitudes. One’s attitude does not necessarily get reflected in one’s behavior. For example, we know that honesty is the best policy and we have  favorable  altitudes towards people who are honest but in certain situations, we may still act in a less honest way.

Changing group behavior is usually a more prolonged and harder task. Every group has its own dynamics of push and pull that attempt to  neutralize  the change that may have taken place in an individual. Due to this group dynamics, individual member’s ‘changed behavior’ may revert to earlier normative behavior in order to maintain the change in the existing conditions. However, due to the same reasons of a group’s over-riding influence on individual members, sometimes it may be easier to tackle the group as a whole rather than trying to change the behavior of members one by one.

Bringing total behavioral change in all the groups and members of an organization involves difficult long-range effort. More often than not, it is a slow painful process to usher a total cultural change in an organization.

It is possible to change total organization without focusing at the level of individual’s change of knowledge, attitude and behavior. Modification in the organization’s structures, policies, procedures and techniques leads to total organizational change. These types of changes alter prescribed relationships and roles assigned to members and eventually modify the individual members’ behavior and attitudes. As these two kinds of changes are interdependent, the complexity of managing change increases manifold.

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