Liebhart, Margrit and Garcia-Lorenzo, Lucia
Between planned and emergent change: decision maker’s perceptions of managing change in organisations.
International Journal of Knowledge, Culture and Change Management, 10
Today’s business environment is increasingly complex, interconnected, unpredictable and competitive. Within this context decision makers struggle to find some stability amidst uncertainty using planned change methods while being aware of the need for flexibility and agility to leverage emergent change and survive. It is this tension between the desire for continuity and the experience of emergence in change processes that this paper addresses. To examine this tension the paper contrasts the planned organisational change methods used by decision makers since the 1950s with the more recent emergent change approaches developed out of economic destabilization and increased competition.
The paper is based on a qualitative research project that used relevant organisational documents and in-depth interviews with 14 highly placed decision makers involved in change efforts in different organisations to explore different experiences and understandings of change. The stories told show a rich picture of organisational change efforts as well as individual understandings and insights. The experiences transmitted by the different decision makers illustrate the tension between planned and emergent change. The language they use however, leads to the conclusion that a ‘becoming view’ on change combining both continuity and emergence could help to eliminate the paradox.
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