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Change happens: redefining organizational social structures to match who we are

  • Author / Creator
    Ogata, Ken
  • This longitudinal case study examines how the process of radical organizational change unfolded within EES Consulting (EES). EES was an international engineering and environmental services consulting firm that experienced significant internal cultural difficulties in the early 1990s, such that OCI Consulting predicted the firm would fail within 18 months. This study focuses upon the Canadian operations, and their experience in becoming a top company to work for in Canada following their adoption of the Balanced Scorecard in 1999. The study employed a mixed-methods methodology, involving semi-structured and informal interviews, participant observation, third-party survey data, and internal corporate documents. Based upon this data, EES’ experience did not conform to that described by traditional change models (Lewin’s three-stage, punctuated equilibrium, or organizational development models) in terms of the pace, sequence, or linearity of change. Rather, EES’ experience was more consistent with recent conceptualizations of change as a continuous, emergent process, involving loops and iterations. Although EES members suggested that change was attributable to their adoption of the Balanced Scorecard, this technology merely served as the catalyst for subsequent organizational social dynamics that produced change. Specifically, change at EES occurred through negotiated redefinition of the social structures governing members’ actions. Thus, radical organizational change represented an act of social construction between members. This study’s key contribution is the development of a theoretical extension to Giddens’ (1984) structuration theory, involving a synthesis with the concept of organizational identity. Organizational identity is defined as the key interpretive scheme mediating the relationship between the institutional realm and action. Modifying identity enables alternative conceptualizations of structure, which consequently enable new courses of action by members. However, lasting change depends upon the continued legitimation and reproduction of these alternative structures, combined with the abandonment of previous structures.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    2011-06
  • Type of Item
    Thesis
  • Degree
    Doctor of Philosophy
  • DOI
    https://doi.org/10.7939/R3S950
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.
  • Language
    English
  • Institution
    University of Alberta
  • Degree level
    Doctoral
  • Department
    • Faculty of Business
  • Supervisor / co-supervisor and their department(s)
    • Cooper, David (Business)
    • Greenwood, Royston (Business)
  • Examining committee members and their departments
    • Krahn, Harvey (Sociology)
    • McWatters, Cheryl (Business)
    • Balogun, Julia (external)