STR422 Implementation of Strategic Change and Learning in Organizations
Organizational change is ubiquitous and at the same time widely recognized as one of the most challenging tasks facing leaders in modern organizations. Still, after more than 60 years of systematic research on causes and consequences of organizational change, its success and failure, numerous reports indicate that the latter (i.e. failure) is more frequently observed than the former. The key thesis underlying the structure and content of this course is that implementation of change frequently fails because current normative models of how to plan and execute change do not fully incorporate available research based evidence concerning factors that are associated with success/failure.
The link between this thesis and the course is achieved in the following manner:
Students are exposed to one exemplar of the mainstream normative models available in the market. For this purpose, we use Kotter's widely used textbook on leading change.
The second (more comprehensive) readings are a carefully selected set of review articles, meta-analyses and individual articles addressing key process steps in Kotter's model as well as other issues (outside this model) known to affect change outcomes.
By juxtaposing the two sets of readings, students become aware of the uncertainty and ambiguity associated with applying standardized change models, and they develop a more reasoned view of the effect that realistically can be achieved through their use. Additionally, and perhaps more importantly, exposure to this second set of readings prepare students for adaptation of change processes to central features of the organizational and cultural settings in which they work. This type of tailoring is fundamental to the conception and implementation of change in modern organizations.
Own research project
Further, students are required to complete a mini-research project which can be thought of as a scaled down master thesis. This involves defining/selecting a research problem taken from the set of issues that are addressed in the course, analyzing this conceptually based on the readings/book, gathering of data on two actual change processes (one successful and one unsuccessful) and analyzing these processes by combining, findings, logic and concepts/relationships from the literature. This element is important for two reasons: (1) It shows students that the concepts that are talked about in the lectures actually capture real life phenomena and (2) That practice often deviates from available norms (Kotter) and violates principles that can be derived from available research based knowledge (but not yet reflected in text book norms).
Finally, a set of guest lectures are given by experienced (1) management consultants and (2) practicing managers. The functions of these lectures are similar to those of the research project.
Knowledge - the candidate
- Has advanced knowledge of why implementation of organizational change frequently fails
- Is able to discuss the effects that realistically can be achieved through the use of standardized change models
- Is able to define/select a research problem taken from the set of issues that are addressed in the course
- Is able to analyze this research problem conceptually based on the readings/book
- Is able to know how practice often deviates from available norms (Kotter) and violates principles that can be derived from available research based knowledge
Skills - the candidate
- Is able to explain how change models actually capture real life phenomena
- Is able to identify the uncertainty and ambiguity associated with applying standardized organizational change models
General competence - the candidate
- Is able to design effective change processes that include a focus on learning
- Is able to participate constructively in changes that are initiated by other organizational members
It is recommended that students have taken an introductory course in social science research.
In NHH terms this would be covered by STR402A/STR405.
Requirements for course approval
Students work in groups of 2-4 participants. They are required to hand in drafts of their work, and they will receive feedback.
Students are expected to read relevant papers/chapters prior to the meetings, and to participate in class discussions. The lecturer will prepare issues for discussion which are distributed prior to the meetings.
Course paper (50%), 3-hour written school exam (50%)
Grading scale A - F.
* Kotter, J.P. (1996), Leading Change. Boston, MA.: Harvard Business School Press
- ECTS Credits
- Teaching language
Rune Lines, Department of Strategy and Management.