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Organization Change and Development - Environmental Pressures for Change

Essay by   •  July 23, 2011  •  Research Paper  •  2,213 Words (9 Pages)  •  1,641 Views

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Introduction

Nowadays, in the extremely competitive business world, there are many factors that force an organization to change. Although 84 percent of U.S. companies need major organizational changes, many of them are not successful (Palmer et al., 2009). As a result, it is very important for every organization to adapt to pressures for change, be able to change, be familiar with resistance that happens when change occurs, and know how to handle the resistance. Moreover, organizations have to know how to maintain change in their new desired state (George & Jones 2008).

Environmental Pressures for Change

Palmer et al. (2009) state that there are six kinds of environmental pressures affecting organizations; as a result, they need to change in order to turn around a negative cash flow and avoid bankruptcy. In other words, the organizational change is necessary for organizations because it keeps them away from organizational death.

To begin with, fashion of the day forces an organization to imitate the structures and practices of other successful organizations in its industry. This is the first kind of environmental pressure. The second type of environmental pressure is pressure to force or mandate the organization from outside agencies, especially governments- for example, discrimination as an issue, a physical environmental issue, or a pollution requirement issue. Additionally, geopolitical pressures are the third type. For instance, when SARS was a critical global problem that had an immediate impact on many businesses, in particular airlines and businesses strongly connected to them, Rockwell Collins, a company selling radios and electrical equipment for airplanes, had a cutback in sales from its customers. Consequently, it responded to that force by reducing its workforce by 2,800. The fourth kind of environmental pressure is market decline pressures. For instance, because of an economic depression in the telecommunications industry in December 2002, Verizon Communications, a telecommunication carrier, laid off 2,700 frontline repair and installation staffs in New York and New Jersey. Furthermore, hypercompetition pressures are the fifth type of environmental pressure. For these types of pressures, organizations have to change in order to sustain their businesses. Finally, the last type of the environmental pressures is reputation and credibility pressures. Palmer et al. (2009) said "reputational pressures can come very suddenly" (p. 59). Change associated with these kinds of pressures is about maintaining a positive reputation of organizations (Palmer et al., 2009).

Resistance to Change

In organizations, impediments of change exist on three levels (George & Jones, 2008). First, in the organization level, the resistance to change in this level involves four impediments which are power and conflict, differences in functional orientation, mechanistic structure, and organizational culture. The second level is group-level resistance to change. There are four group characteristics negatively affecting organizational change: group norms, group cohesiveness, groupthink, and escalation of commitment. The third level is the individual level. How a person feels about changes, how a person thinks about change, and what a person does lead to resistance to change (Palmer et al., 2009). In fact, there are many symptoms of resistance to change- for example, being critical, using facts selectively, blaming, threatening, distorting facts, blocking, undermining, starting rumors, or arguing. Indeed, people resist change in organizations because of several reasons. First, they dislike change and have discomfort with uncertainty or ambiguity when change takes place. Additionally, they are afraid that change will have a negative effect on their interests, such as their authority, status, salary, and security. Another reason of resistance to change is lack of belief that change is needed. Besides, although people like the idea of change, they refuse that change because they believe that either the timing is wrong or they disagree with the way the change is being managed. Lastly, people negatively experienced with previous organizational changes; thus, they reject change.

Lewin's Force Field Theory of Change

According to Lewin's force field theory, in any organization, it always has resistance to change and forces to change in opposition (George & Jones, 2008). Organizations tend to increase forces for change and decrease resistance to change, or do both concurrently when they decide to change as described in figure 1 (see Appendix A).

Lewin's Three-Step Change Process

Based on Lewin's theory, George and Jones (2008) state there are three steps to achieve change in organizations as described in figure 2 (see Appendix B). First, an organization's present state must be unfrozen. The second step is to make the change. Finally, the organization refreezes itself at the new desired state after change is completed.

Types of Change

According to George and Jones (2008), there are two types of change in organizations. First, evolutionary change is change that gradually takes place in organizations. Examples of this kind of change are socio-technical systems theory and total quality management, or kaizen. The socio-technical systems theory suggests that managers must slowly adjust technical and social systems whenever changes in tasks and role relationships are needed to enhance organizational effectiveness. Kaizen, a technique developed by Toyota's employees, is a continuous, gradual, and incremental change process (Lee, 2004). Second, the revolutionary change, for example, reengineering, restructuring, and innovation, is hasty change that happens when organizations try too rapidly to find new methods to increase their effectiveness. Reengineering is about rethinking and redesigning the business process to succeed in a dramatic redevelopment. Restructuring is decreasing numbers of divisions, departments, or level in hierarchy, and cutting back employees to decrease operating costs. Last of all, innovation is a creation of new technologies or products to react to the customers' needs.

Managing Change with Psychology

What will happen if people are called to major change which they need in changing their practices or behavior? This is the strongest level of change and further leads to cultural change. In this kind of change, managing change by psychology is a desirable approach that helps organizations be able to achieve more in long-term change which results in maintaining better consequences. Furthermore, four conditions for changing mind-sets

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