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Annu. Rev. Psychol. 1999. 50:361–86
Copyright ã 1999 by Annual Reviews. All rights reserved
ORGANIZATIONAL CHANGE AND
DEVELOPMENT
Karl E. Weick and Robert E. Quinn
University of Michigan Business School, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor,
Michigan 48109; e-mail: karlw@umich.edu; requinn@umich.edu
KEY WORDS: adaptation, learning, intervention, transformation
ABSTRACT
Recent analyses of organizational change suggest a growing concern with
the tempo of change, understood as the characteristic rate, rhythm, or pattern
of work or activity. Episodic change is contrasted with continuous change on
the basis of implied metaphors of organizing, analytic frameworks, ideal or-
ganizations, intervention theories, and roles for change agents. Episodic
change follows the sequence unfreeze-transition-refreeze, whereas continu-
ous change follows the sequence freeze-rebalance-unfreeze. Conceptualiza-
tions of inertia are seen to underlie the choice to view change as episodic or
continuous.
CONTENTS
INTRODUCTION ....................... ................................... 362
CHANGE AS A GENRE OF ORGANIZATIONAL ANALYSIS..................... 362
EPISODIC CHANGE .................... ................................... 365
Basic Metaphors: Organizing For Episodic Change ............................ 367
Analytic Framework: The Episodic Change Process ............................ 368
Ideal Episodic Organizations............................................... 370
Intervention Theory in Episodic Change ...................................... 371
Role of Change Agent in Episodic Change .................................... 373
CONTINUOUS CHANGE ................................................... 375
Basic Metaphors: Organizing for Continuous Change........................... 375
Analytic Framework: The Continuous Change Process .......................... 377
Ideal Continuous Organizations ............................................ 379
Intervention Theory in Continuous Change.................................... 379
Role of Change Agent in Continuous Change .................................. 381
CONCLUSION ......................... ................................... 381
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INTRODUCTION
Analyses of organizational change written since the review by Porras & Sil-
vers (1991) suggest that an important emerging contrast in change research is
the distinction between change that is episodic, discontinuous, and intermit-
tent and change that is continuous, evolving, and incremental. This contrast is
sufficiently pervasive in recent work and sufficiently central in the conceptu-
alization of change that we use it as the framework that organizes this review.
The contrast between episodic and continuous change reflects differences
in the perspective of the observer. From a distance (the macro level of analy-
sis), when observers examine the flow of events that constitute organizing,
they see what looks like repetitive action, routine, and inertia dotted with occa-
sional episodes of revolutionary change. But a view from closer in (the micro
level of analysis) suggests ongoing adaptation and adjustment. Although these
adjustments may be small, they also tend to be frequent and continuous across
units, which means they are capable of altering structure and strategy. Some
observers (e.g. Orlikowski 1996) treat these ongoing adjustments as the es-
sence of organizational change. Others (e.g. Nadler et al 1995) describe these
ongoing adjustments as mere incremental variations on the same theme and
lump them together into an epoch of convergence during which interdepend-
encies deepen. Convergence is interrupted sporadically by epochs of diver-
gence described by words like revolution, deep change, and transformation.
We pursue this contrast, first by a brief overview of change as a genre of
analysis and then by a more detailed comparison of episodic and continuous
change using a framework proposed by Dunphy (1996).
CHANGE AS A GENRE OF ORGANIZATIONAL
ANALYSIS
The basic tension that underlies many discussions of organizational change is
that it would not be necessary if people had done their jobs right in the first
place. Planned change is usually triggered by the failure of people to create
continuously adaptive organizations (Dunphy 1996). Thus, organizational
change routinely occurs in the context of failure of some sort. A typical story-
line is “First there were losses, then there was a plan of change, and then there
was an implementation, which led to unexpected results” (Czarniawska & Jo-
erges 1996:20).
Representative descriptions of change vary with the level of analysis. At the
most general level, “change is a phenomenon of time. It is the way people talk
about the event in which something appears to become, or turn into, something
else, where the ‘something else’ is seen as a result or outcome” (Ford & Ford
1994:759). In reference to organizations, change involves difference “in how
an organization functions, who its members and leaders are, what form it takes,
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or how it allocates its resources” (Huber et al 1993:216). From the perspective
of organizational development, change is “a set of behavioral science-based
theories, values, strategies, and techniques aimed at the planned change of the
organizational work setting for the purpose of enhancing individual develop-
ment and improving organizational performance, through the alteration of or-
ganizational members’ on-the-job behaviors” (Porras & Robertson 1992:723).
The concepts used to flesh out these definitions have been surprisingly du-
rable over the years. Lewin’s (1951) three stages of change—unfreeze,
change, and refreeze—continue to be a generic recipe for organizational de-
velopment. As Hendry (1996) notes, “Scratch any account of creating and
managing change and the idea that change is a three-stage process which nec-
essarily begins with a process of unfreezing will not be far below the surface.
Indeed it has been said that the whole theory of change is reducible to this one
idea of Kurt Lewin’s” (p. 624). Lewin’s assertion that “you cannot understand
a system until you try to change it” (Schein 1996:34) survives in Colville et
al’s (1993) irony of change: “one rarely fully appreciates or understands a
situation until after it has changed” (p. 550). Lewin’s concept of resistance to
change survives in O’Toole’s (1995:159–66) list of 30 causes of resistance to
change and in renewed efforts to answer the question, “Just whose view is it
that is resisting change?” (Nord & Jermier 1994). The distinction between in-
cremental and radical change first articulated by Watzlawick et al (1974) and
Bateson (1972) as the distinction between first- and second-order change con-
tinues to guide theory construction and data collection (Roach & Bednar 1997;
Bartunek 1993). The rhythms of change (Greiner 1972) continue to be de-
scribed as periods of convergence marked off from periods of divergence by
external jolts (e.g. Bacharach et al 1996). The continuing centrality of these
established ideas may suggest a certain torpor in the intellectual life of scholars
of change. We think, instead, that this centrality attests to the difficulty of find-
ing patterns when difference is the object of study.
While work within the past 10 years has become theoretically richer and
more descriptive, there is a continuing debate about whether change research
is developing as a cumulative and falsifiable body of knowledge. Kahn’s
(1974:487) assessment of organizational change research in the 1970s is cited
by Macy & Izumi (1993:237) as a statement that remains relevant: “A few
theoretical propositions are repeated without additional data or development; a
few bits of homey advice are reiterated without proof or disproof; and a few
sturdy empirical observations are quoted with reverence but without refine-
ment or explication.” Similar sentiments are found in Woodman (1989), in
Golembiewski & Boss (1992), and in the withering popular books on “the
change business” titled The Witch Doctors (Micklethwait & Wooldridge
1996) and Dangerous Company (O’Shea & Madigan 1997). The tone of these
critiques is illustrated by the obvious pleasure the authors of The Witch Doc-
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tors take in their observation that “the reason American businessmen talk
about gurus is because they can’t spell the word charlatan” (Micklethwait &
Wooldridge 1996:11).
Remedies to the above problems are seen to lie in the direction of the fol-
lowing, all coupled with greater efforts to articulate the situated nature of or-
ganizational action (e.g. Laurila 1997): (a) cross-organizational meta-analysis
(e.g. Macy & Izumi 1993), (b) cross-organizational interview-surveys (e.g.
Huber & Glick 1993), (c) simulations that are cross-organizational by virtue of
their generality (e.g. Sastry 1997), (d) ethnographies (e.g. Katz 1997) and case
studies (e.g. Starbuck 1993) that are treated as prototypes, (e) reconceptuali-
zation of organizational change as institutional change (e.g. Greenwood &
Hinings 1996), and (f) cross-disciplinary borrowing (e.g. Cheng & Van de Ven
1996). Coupled with efforts to improve the quality of evidence in change re-
search have been parallel efforts to better understand the limitations of inquiry
(e.g. Kilduff & Mehra 1997, McKelvey 1997). When these are combined,
there appears to be simultaneous improvement of tools and scaling down of the
tasks those tools must accomplish.
The sheer sprawl of the change literature is a continuing challenge to inves-
tigators who thrive on frameworks (e.g. Mintzberg & Westley 1992). An im-
portant recent attempt to impose order on the topic of organizational change is
the typology crafted by Van de Ven & Poole (1995). They induced four basic
process theories of change, each characterized by a different event sequence
and generative mechanism:
1. Life cycle theories have an event sequence of start-up, grow, harvest, termi-
nate, and start-up. They have a generative mechanism of an immanent pro-
gram or regulation.
2. Teleological theories have an event sequence of envision/set goals, imple-
ment goals, dissatisfaction, search/interact, and envision/set goals. They
have a generative mechanism of purposeful enactment and social construc-
tion.
3. Dialectical theory has an event sequence of thesis/antithesis, conflict, syn-
thesis, and thesis/antithesis. It has a generative mechanism of pluralism,
confrontation, and conflict.
4. Evolutionary theory has an event sequence of variation, selection, reten-
tion, and variation. It has a generative mechanism of competitive selection
and resource scarcity.
These four motors are classified along two dimensions: (a) the unit of
change, which depicts whether the process focuses on the development of a
single organizational entity (life cycle, teleological) or on interactions between
two or more entities (evolution, dialectic) and (b) the mode of change, which
depicts whether the sequence of change events is prescribed by deterministic
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laws and produces first-order change (life cycle, evolution) or whether the se-
quence is constructed, emerges as the process unfolds, and generates novel
second-order change (dialectic, teleology).
The language of motors is useful because it alerts investigators to missing
motors in change theories that aspire to comprehensiveness, it draws attention
to mechanisms of interplay among motors and the necessity for balance (Van
de Ven & Poole (1995:534), it tempts people to look for a “fifth motor” and
other hybrids, and (because the language of motors is a language of process
rather than of outcome) it enables investigators to identify what is happening
before it has concluded (p. 524). Because the authors propose a detailed list of
conditions that must be met if a motor is to operate (Van de Ven & Poole
1995:525, Figure 2), they imply that when change interventions fail, there is a
mismatch between the prevailing conditions and the kind of motor activated by
the change intervention.
Van de Ven & Poole’s review (1995) suggested that mode of change and
unit of change were important partitions of the change literature. Our review
suggests that tempo of change, defined as “characteristic rate, rhythm, or pattern
of work or activity” (Random House 1987:1954), is also a meaningful partition.
We explore the contrast between episodic and continuous change by comparing
the two forms on five properties that Dunphy (1996:543) suggests are found in
any comprehensive theory of change (Table 1). These properties are (a) a basic
metaphor of the nature of organization; (b) an analytical framework to under-
stand the organizational change process; (c) an ideal model of an effectively
functioning organization that specifies both a direction for change and values
to be used in assessing the success of the change intervention (e.g. survival,
growth, integrity); (d) an intervention theory that specifies when, where, and
how to move the organization closer to the ideal; and (e) a definition of the role
of change agent. Because we are building a composite picture using portions of
work that may have been designed to answer other questions, readers should
treat our placement of specific studies as evocative rather than definitive.
EPISODIC CHANGE
The phrase “episodic change” is used to group together organizational changes
that tend to be infrequent, discontinuous, and intentional. The presumption is
that episodic change occurs during periods of divergence when organizations
are moving away from their equilibrium conditions. Divergence is the result of
a growing misalignment between an inertial deep structure and perceived envi-
ronmental demands. This form of change is labeled “episodic” because it tends
to occur in distinct periods during which shifts are precipitated by external
events such as technology change or internal events such as change in key per-
sonnel.
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366 WEICK & QUINN
Table 1 Comparison of episodic and continuous change
Episodic change Continuous change
Metaphor of
organization
Organizations are inertial and change
is infrequent, discontinuous,
intentional.
Organizations are emergent and self-
organizing, and change is constant,
evolving, cumulative.
Analytic
framework
Change is an occasional interruption
or divergence from equilibrium. It
tends to be dramatic and it is
driven externally. It is seen as a
failure of the organization to adapt
its deep structure to a changing
environment.
Change is a pattern of endless modifi-
cations in work processes and so-
cial practice. It is driven by organ-
izational instability and alert reac-
tions to daily contingencies. Nu-
merous small accommodations
cumulate and amplify.
Perspective: macro, distant, global. Perspective: micro, close, local.
Emphasis: short-run adaptation. Emphasis: long-run adaptability.
Key concepts: inertia, deep structure
of interrelated parts, triggering,
replacement and substitution,
discontinuity, revolution.
Key concepts: recurrent interactions,
shifting task authority, response
repertoires, emergent patterns, im-
provisation, translation, learning.
Ideal organi-
zation
The ideal organization is capable of
continuous adaptation.
The ideal organization is capable of
continuous adaptation.
Intervention
theory
The necessary change is created by
intention. Change is Lewinian:
inertial, linear, progressive, goal
seeking, motivated by disequilib-
rium, and requires outsider inter-
vention.
The change is a redirection of what is
already under way. Change is
Confucian: cyclical, processional,
without an end state, equilibrium
seeking, eternal.
1. Unfreeze: disconfirmation of ex-
pectations, learning anxiety, provi-
sion of psychological safety.
1. Freeze: make sequences visible
and show patterns through maps,
schemas, and stories.
2. Transition: cognitive restructuring,
semantic redefinition, conceptual
enlargement, new standards of
judgment.
2. Rebalance: reinterpret, relabel,
resequence the patterns to reduce
blocks. Use logic of attraction.
3. Refreeze: create supportive social
norms, make change congruent
with personality.
3. Unfreeze: resume improvisation,
translation, and learning in ways
that are more mindful.
Role of change
agent
Role: prime mover who creates
change.
Role: Sense maker who redirects
change.
Process: focuses on inertia and seeks
points of central leverage.
Process: recognizes, makes salient,
and reframes current patterns.
Shows how intentional change can
be made at the margins. Alters
meaning by new language, en-
riched dialogue, and new identity.
Unblocks improvisation, transla-
tion, and learning.
Changes meaning systems: speaks
differently, communicates alterna-
tive schema, reinterprets revolu-
tionary triggers, influences punc-
tuation, builds coordination and
commitment.
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Basic Metaphors: Organizing for Episodic Change
The metaphor of organization implied by conceptualizations of episodic
change is of a social entity that combines the following characteristics: dense,
tightly coupled interdependencies among subunits; efficiency as a core value;
a preoccupation with short-run adaptation rather than long-run adaptability;
constraints on action in the form of the invisible hand of institutionalization;
powerful norms embedded in strong subcultures; and imitation as a major mo-
tivation for change. The importance of interdependencies as a precondition for
episodic change is found in discussions of alignment (e.g. Pfeffer 1998:Ch. 4),
configurations (e.g. Miller 1990), and cultural inertia (e.g. Tushman &
O’Reilly 1996). The importance of imitation is reflected in Sevon’s (1996)
statement that “every theory of organizational change must take into account
the fact that leaders of organizations watch one another and adopt what they
perceive as successful strategies for growth and organizational structure” (pp.
60–61).
Images of organization that are compatible with episodic change include
those built around the ideas of punctuated equilibria, the edge of chaos, and
second-order change. The image of an organization built around the idea of a
punctuated equilibrium (Tushman & Romanelli 1985) depicts organizations as
sets of interdependencies that converge and tighten during a period of relative
equilibrium, often at the expense of continued adaptation to environmental
changes. As adaptation lags, effectiveness decreases, pressures for change in-
crease, and a revolutionary period is entered. As these pressures continue to in-
crease, they may result in an episode of fundamental change in activity pat-
terns and personnel, which then becomes the basis for a new equilibrium peri-
od. Apple Computer illustrated a series of discontinuous changes in strategy,
structure, and culture as it moved from the leadership of Steve Jobs through
that of John Sculley, Michael Sprindler, Gil Amelio, and back to Jobs (Tush-
man & O’Reilly 1996). Romanelli & Tushman (1994) found this pattern of
discontinuous episodic change when they examined changes in the activity do-
mains of strategy, structure, and power distribution for 25 minicomputer pro-
ducers founded between 1967 and 1969. Changes in these three domains were
clustered, as would be predicted from a punctuated change model, rather than
dispersed, as would be predicted from a model of incremental changes that ac-
cumulate.
The image of an organization built around the idea of operating at “the edge
of chaos” (McDaniel 1997, Stacey 1995) depicts the organization as a set of
simple elements tied together by complex relationships involving nonlinear
feedback (Arthur 1995). An important property of nonlinear systems is
bounded instability or what is referred to as the edge of chaos. Here a system
has developed both negative and positive feedback loops and is hence simulta-
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neously capable of stability and instability. Behavior at the edge of chaos is
paradoxical because the system moves autonomously back and forth between
stability and instability. Applied to organizations, Cheng & Van de Ven
(1996), for example, show that biomedical innovation processes are nonlinear
systems that move episodically from stages of chaos to greater order within a
larger context containing random processes. Browning et al (1995) show how
the unprecedented successful alliance called Sematech emerged from a set of
small, discrete events that occurred at a point of irreversible disequilibrium
when the entire US semiconductor industry was about to collapse.
The image of an organization built around the idea of second-order change
in frames of reference depicts the organization as a site where shared beliefs
operate in the service of coordinated action (Langfield-Smith 1992, Bougon
1992). These shared frames of reference may be “bent” when first-order
changes produce minor alterations in current beliefs or “broken” when second-
order changes replace one belief system with another (Dunbar et al 1996).
First-order change is illustrated by a shift of culture at British Rail from a
production-led bureaucracy to a market-led bureaucracy (the firm remained a
top-down bureaucracy). Second-order change is illustrated by the later culture
shift at British Rail from a market-led bureaucracy to a network-partnership
culture in which power was distributed rather than concentrated (Bate 1990).
Second-order change is episodic change and “refers to changes in cognitive
frameworks underlying the organization’s activities, changes in the deep
structure or shared schemata that generate and give meaning to these activi-
ties” (Bartunek & Moch 1994:24). Recently, it has been proposed that there
exists a third order of change that basically questions the adequacy of schemas
themselves and argues for direct exposure to the “ground for conceptual under-
standing” in the form of music, painting, dance, poetry, or mystical experi-
ence. Organizational change thus gains intellectual power through alignment
with aesthetics (e.g. Sandelands 1998). Examples of third-order change are
found in the work of Torbert (1994), Nielsen & Bartunek (1996), Mirvis
(1997), Olson (1990), and Austin (1997).
In each of these three images, organizational action builds toward an epi-
sode of change when preexisting interdependencies, patterns of feedback, or
mindsets produce inertia.
Analytic Framework: The Episodic Change Process
Episodic change tends to be infrequent, slower because of its wide scope, less
complete because it is seldom fully implemented, more strategic in its content,
more deliberate and formal than emergent change, more disruptive because
programs are replaced rather than altered, and initiated at higher levels in the
organization (Mintzberg & Westley 1992). The time interval between epi-
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sodes of discontinuous change is determined by the amount of time organiza-
tions expend in other stages of organizational development. If, for example,
the stages of organizational change are labeled development, stability, adapta-
tion, struggle, and revolution (Mintzberg & Westley 1992), then episodic
change is contemplated when adaptation begins to lag. It takes provisional
form as organizations struggle to confront problems and experiment with solu-
tions, and it produces actual shifts in systems during the stage of revolution.
The frequency of revolutions and episodic change depends on the time spent in
the four prior stages, which varies enormously. This temporal variation in pro-
cesses building up to revolution is the reason why this form of change is best
described as episodic, aperiodic, infrequent.
Three important processes in this depiction of episodes are inertia, the
triggering of change, and replacement. Inertia, defined as an “inability for or-
ganizations to change as rapidly as the environment” (Pfeffer 1997:163), takes
a variety of forms. Whether the inability is attributed to deep structure (Gersick
1991), first-order change (Bartunek 1993), routines (Gioia 1992), success-
induced blind spots (Miller 1993), top management tenure (Virany et al 1992),
identity maintenance (Sevon 1996), culture (Harrison & Carroll 1991), com-
placency (Kotter 1996), or technology (Tushman & Rosenkopf 1992), inertia
is a central feature of the analytic framework associated with episodic change.
Romanelli & Tushman (1994) are representative when they argue that it takes
a revolution to alter “a system of interrelated organizational parts that is
maintained by mutual dependencies among the parts and with competitive,
regulatory, and technological systems outside the organization that reinforce
the legitimacy of managerial choices that produced the parts” (p. 1144). Be-
cause interrelations are dense and tight, it takes larger interventions to realign
them. An example of processes of inertia is Miller’s research (1993, 1994)
demonstrating that inertia is often the unintended consequence of successful
performance. Successful organizations discard practices, people, and struc-
tures regarded as peripheral to success and grow more inattentive to signals
that suggest the need for change, more insular and sluggish in adaptation, and
more immoderate in their processes, tending toward extremes of risk-taking or
conservatism. These changes simplify the organization, sacrifice adaptability,
and increase inertia.
Although inertia creates the tension that precedes episodic change, the ac-
tual triggers of change come from at least five sources: the environment, per-
formance, characteristics of top managers, structure, and strategy (Huber et al
1993). Huber et al found that all five were associated with internal and external
changes, but in ways specific to the kind of change being examined (ten spe-
cific changes were measured; see Huber et al 1993:223). For example, consis-
tent with Romanelli & Tushman’s data, Huber et al found that downturns in
growth (a potential revolutionary period) were positively related to externally
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focused changes and to changes in organizational form. Interestingly, upturns
in growth were also positively related to externally focused changes, a finding
interpreted to suggest that “desirable but risky changes might be held in abey-
ance until performance improves” (Huber et al 1993:230).
A final property of the analytic framework associated with episodic change
is that it often assumes that change occurs through replacement (Ford & Back-
off 1988, Ford & Ford 1994). The idea of replacement is that “one entity se-
quentially takes the place of or substitutes for a second. The first identity does
not become the second but is substituted for it....[T]he change process be-
comes a sequence of events in which a person (a) determines or defines what
currently exists (what is A), (b) determines or defines its replacement (Not-A),
(c) engages in action to remove what is currently there, and (d) implants its re-
placement” (Ford & Ford 1994:773, 775). Beer et al (1990) demonstrate that
replacement of one program with another seldom works. The problem with
such a logic is that it restricts change to either-or thinking. The only way to pre-
vent A is to apply its reciprocal or a counterbalance or its opposite, which pre-
cludes the possible diagnosis that both A and not-A may be the problem. For
example, authoritarian decision making may be counterbalanced by mandat-
ing that decisions be made at lower levels (Roach & Bednar 1997). However,
this change is simply authoritarian decision-abdication, which means that
authoritarian control from the top persists. As lower-level managers try harder
to guess what the right decisions are (i.e. those decisions top management
would have made) and err in doing so, the mandate is reaffirmed more force-
fully, which worsens performance even more and creates a vicious circle.
What was really intended was the creation of expectations of individual
autonomy that allowed decisions to be made at the level where the expertise
and information are lodged.
In conclusion, the basic analytical framework involving episodic change
assumes in part that inertia is a force to contend with. When inertia builds,
some trigger usually precipitates an episode of replacement. To understand
episodic change is to think carefully about inertia, triggers, and replacements.
Ideal Episodic Organizations
There is no one “ideal model of an effectively functioning organization” that
suggests directions for episodic change and values to be used in judging the
success of an episodic change intervention (e.g. survival, growth). This is so
for the simple reason that episodic change is a generic description applicable
across diverse organizational forms and values. There is no direct parallel in
the case of episodic change for Dunphy’s (1996) assertion that the ideal model
of an effectively functioning sociotechnical system is “a representative demo-
cratic community composed of semi-autonomous work groups with the ability
to learn continuously through participative action research” (p. 543). If organ-
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izational change generally occurs in the context of failures to adapt, then the
ideal organization is one that continuously adapts. And this holds true whether
the focus is episodic or continuous change. The ideal in both cases would re-
semble the successful self-organizing firms that Brown & Eisenhardt (1997)
found in the computer industry. Successful firms did not rely on either a purely
mechanistic or purely organic process and structure. Instead, successful firms
had well-defined managerial responsibilities and clear project priorities while
also allowing the design processes to be highly flexible, improvisational, and
continuously changing. Successful firms also had richly connected communi-
cation systems, including informal and electronic grapevines, and a very high
value on cross-project communication. Two important features that encour-
aged both episodic and continuous change were (a) semistructures poised be-
tween order and disorder with only some features being prescribed and (b) in-
tentional links in time between present projects and future probes to reduce
discontinuity and preserve direction. The authors interpret this pattern as an
instance of bounded instability and argue that it may be more motivating, more
attuned to sense-making in a fast-changing environment, and more flexible (as
a result of capabilities for improvisation) than patterns that are pure instances
of either mechanistic or organic systems.
A more generic ideal, suited for both episodic and continuous-change inter-
ventions, is found in Burgelman’s (1991) attempt to show how organizations
adapt by a mixture of continuous strategic initiatives that are within the scope
of the current strategy (induced processes) and additional episodic initiatives
that are outside the current strategy (autonomous processes). An ideal model
framed more in terms of management practices is Pfeffer’s (1998) description
of seven “high performance management practices” that produce innovation
and productivity, are difficult to copy, and lead to sustained profitability.
These practices are employment security, selective hiring, self-managed teams
and decentralization, extensive training, reduction of status differences, shar-
ing of information, and high and contingent compensation.
Intervention Theory in Episodic Change
Episodic change tends to be dramatic change, as Lewin made clear: “To break
open the shell of complacency and self-righteousness it is sometimes neces-
sary to bring about deliberately an emotional stir-up” (Lewin 1951, quoted in
Marshak 1993:400). While strong emotions may provide “major sources of en-
ergy for revolutionary change” (Gersick 1991), they may also constrain cogni-
tion and performance in ways analogous to those of stress (Barr & Huff 1997,
Driskell & Salas 1996).
Because episodic change requires both equilibrium breaking and transition-
ing to a newly created equilibrium, it is most closely associated with planned,
intentional change. Intentional change occurs when “a change agent deliber-
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ately and consciously sets out to establish conditions and circumstances that
are different from what they are now and then accomplishes that through some
set or series of actions and interventions either singularly or in collaboration
with other people” (Ford & Ford 1995:543). And this is where Lewin comes
into his own.
Lewin’s ideas remain central to episodic change because they assume that
inertia in the form of a quasi-stationary equilibrium is the main impediment to
change (Schein 1996). Lewin’s insight was that an equilibrium would change
more easily if restraining forces such as personal defenses, group norms, or or-
ganizational culture were unfrozen. Schein’s (1996) work suggests that un-
freezing basically involves three processes: (a) disconfirmation of expecta-
tions, (b) induction of learning anxiety if the disconfirming data are accepted
as valid and relevant (we fear that “if we admit to ourselves and others that
something is wrong or imperfect, we will lose our effectiveness, our self-
esteem, and maybe even our identity,” p. 29), and (c) provision of psychologi-
cal safety that converts anxiety into motivation to change.
Schein’s (1996) work also suggests an updated understanding of what hap-
pens after unfreezing. Change occurs through cognitive restructuring in which
words are redefined to mean something other than had been assumed, concepts
are interpreted more broadly, or new standards of judgment and evaluation are
learned. Thus, when Lewin persuaded housewives during World War II to
serve kidneys and liver, he cognitively redefined their standards of what was
acceptable meat by means of a process that mixed together identification with
positive role models, insight, and trial-and-error learning. When unfreezing
occurs and people are motivated to learn something, they tend to be especially
attentive to ideas that are in circulation, a mechanism discussed later as “trans-
lation.” Refreezing that embeds the new behavior and forestalls relapse is most
likely to occur when the behavior fits both the personality of the target and the
relational expectations of the target’s social network.
Lewin also remains relevant to episodic change because his other five as-
sumptions about change are compatible with its analytical framework. These
five assumptions (Marshak 1993) are (a) linear assumption (movement is from
one state to another in a forward direction through time); (b) progressive as-
sumption (movement is from a lesser state to a better state); (c) goal assump-
tion (movement is toward a specific end state); (d) disequilibrium assumption
(movement requires disequilibrium); and (e) separateness assumption (move-
ment is planned and managed by people apart from the system). Summarized
in this form, Lewin’s change model resembles “Newtonian physics where
movement results from the application of a set of forces on an object” (Mar-
shak 1993:412). Complexity theory is the least “Newtonian” of the several for-
mulations associated with episodic change, and its continued development
may broaden our understanding of episodic interventions. For example, com-
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plexity theory implies that improved performance may at times be linked to the
surrender of control, which is a very different image from one of attacking in-
ertia through coercive means (e.g. Dunphy & Stace 1988).
Newer analyses relevant to episodic change suggest how difficult it is to
unfreeze patterns but also that attempts at unfreezing start earlier than was pre-
viously thought. Both conclusions are the result of microlevel research on
smoking cessation and weight loss by Prochaska and his colleagues (Grimley
et al 1994, Prochaska et al 1992). They propose that when people are exposed
to change interventions, they are at one of four stages: precontemplation, con-
templation, action, and maintenance. Precontemplators are unaware of any
need to change, whereas contemplators are aware that there is a problem and
they are thinking about change but have not yet made a commitment. People
can remain in the contemplation stage for long periods, up to two years in the
case of smokers. Action, the stage most change agents equate with change, is
the stage in which people actually alter their behaviors. In any change inter-
vention, few people are in the action stage. In smoking cessation programs, for
example, empirical findings suggest that only 15% of the smokers in any given
worksite are ready for action.
The important result, in the context of episodic change, is the finding that
most people who reach the action stage relapse and change back to previous
habits three or four times before they maintain the newer sequence. Beer et al
(1990:50) found several false starts in renewal efforts at General Products.
This suggests that change is not a linear movement through the four stages but
a spiral pattern of contemplation, action, and relapse and then successive re-
turns to contemplation, action, and relapse before entering the maintenance
and then termination stages. Relapse should be more common in discrete epi-
sodic change than in cumulative continuous change because larger changes are
involved. What is interesting is that 85% of the relapsers return to the stage of
contemplation, not to the stage of precontemplation. This means that they are
closer to taking action again following relapse than change agents suspected.
The fact that change passes through a contemplation stage also means that peo-
ple are changing before we can observe any alterations in their behavior. This
suggests that interventions may have value even when no action is observed.
Role of Change Agent in Episodic Change
The role of the change agent in episodic change is that of prime mover who
creates change. Macy & Izumi (1993:245–50) list 60 work design changes
made by prime movers in North American interventions. The steps by which
people enact the role of prime mover (e.g. Kotter 1996, Nadler 1998) look
pretty much the same. What is different in newer work is the demonstration
that one can be a prime mover on a larger scale than in the past (Weisbord
1987). Many practitioners are focusing on larger gatherings (Axelrod 1992,
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Dannemiller & Jacobs 1992) with more issues on the table for immediate action
(e.g. Ashkenas & Jick 1992), concentrated in shorter periods of time (Torbert
1994). Large-scale change in very large groups is counterintuitive, since size
and participation tend to be negatively related (e.g. Pasmore & Fagans 1992,
Gilmore & Barnett 1992). Normally, large group settings induce stereotyping,
decreased ownership of ideas, increased abstraction, and less willingness to
express unique thoughts. The challenge for prime movers is to neutralize these
tendencies. To do so requires that they abandon several traditional organiza-
tional development (OD) assumptions. Large-scale interventions rely less on
action theory and discrepancy theory and more on systems theory; less on
closely held, internal data generation and more on gathering data from the en-
vironment and sharing it widely; less on slow downward cascades and more on
real-time analysis and decision making; less on individual unit learning and
more on learning about the whole organization; less on being senior manage-
ment driven and more on a mixed model of being driven by both senior man-
agement and the organization; less consultant centered and more participant
centered; less incremental and more fundamental in terms of the depth of
change (Bunker & Alban 1992).
There has also been an increasingly refined understanding of specific ways
in which change agents can be effective prime movers. As Rorty (1989) ob-
served, “a talent for speaking differently rather than for arguing well, is the
chief instrument of cultural change” (p. 7). Language interventions are becom-
ing a crucial means for agents to create change (e.g. Bate 1990, O’Connor
1995). Bartunek (1993) argues that to produce second-order change in a preex-
isting shared schema requires a strong alternative schema, presented clearly
and persistently. Barrett et al (1995) demonstrate that changes symbolizing a
successful revolution are basically interpretations that point to a new align-
ment of the triggers that initiated the revolutionary period.
Wilkof et al (1995) report on their attempt to intervene in the relationships
between two companies in a difficult partnership. Their initial attempts to im-
prove cooperation focused on feeding back problems from a traditional data
collection. This failed and led to the discovery that although there were techni-
cal or structural solutions available, the actors could not agree because of a
vast difference in cultural lenses and diametrically opposed interpretations of
meaning. The consultant, therefore, changed her strategy. She began meeting
independently with the actors from each organization. In the meetings she
would meet each condemnation not with data or argument but with an alterna-
tive interpretation from the cultural lens of the other company. She calls the
process “cultural consciousness raising.” The authors underscore the impor-
tance of working with actors to interpret the actions of others not as technical
incompetence but as behaviors that are consistent with a particular cultural
purpose, meaning, and history.
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CONTINUOUS CHANGE
The phrase “continuous change” is used to group together organizational
changes that tend to be ongoing, evolving, and cumulative. A common pre-
sumption is that change is emergent, meaning that it is “the realization of a new
pattern of organizing in the absence of explicit a priori intentions” (Orlikowski
1996:65). Change is described as situated and grounded in continuing updates
of work processes (Brown & Duguid 1991) and social practices (Tsoukas
1996). Researchers focus on “accommodations to and experiments with the
everyday contingencies, breakdowns, exceptions, opportunities, and unin-
tended consequences” (Orlikowski 1996:65). As these accommodations “are
repeated, shared, amplified, and sustained, they can, over time, produce per-
ceptible and striking organizational changes” (p. 89). The distinctive quality of
continuous change is the idea that small continuous adjustments, created si-
multaneously across units, can cumulate and create substantial change. That
scenario presumes tightly coupled interdependencies. When interdependen-
cies loosen, these same continuous adjustments, now confined to smaller units,
remain important as pockets of innovation that may prove appropriate in future
environments.
Basic Metaphors: Organizing for Continuous Change
The metaphor of organization that is implicit in conceptualizations of continu-
ous change is not the reciprocal of metaphors associated with episodic change.
The dynamics are different, as would be expected from a shift to a more micro
perspective and to the assumption that everything changes all the time (Ford &
Ford 1994). From closer in, the view of organization associated with continu-
ous change is built around recurrent interactions as the feedstock of organiz-
ing, authority tied to tasks rather than positions, shifts in authority as tasks
shift, continuing development of response repertoires, systems that are self-
organizing rather than fixed, ongoing redefinition of job descriptions, mindful
construction of responses in the moment rather than mindless application of
past responses embedded in routines (Wheatley 1992:90), and acceptance of
change as a constant. Although these properties may seem prescriptive rather
than descriptive and better suited to describe the “ideal organization” than the
“basic metaphor,” they are straightforward outcomes when people act as if
change is continuous, organizing constitutes organization, and stability is an
accomplishment.
Images of organization that are compatible with continuous change include
those built around the ideas of improvisation, translation, and learning. The
image of organization built around improvisation is one in which variable in-
puts to self-organizing groups of actors induce continuing modification of
work practices and ways of relating. This image is represented by the state-
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ment that change “is often realized through the ongoing variations which
emerge frequently, even imperceptibly, in the slippages and improvisations of
everyday activity” (Orlikowski 1996:88–89). Improvisation is said to occur
when “the time gap between these events [of planning and implementation]
narrows so that in the limit, composition converges with execution. The more
improvisational an act, the narrower the time gap between composing and per-
forming, designing and producing, or planning and implementing” (Moorman
& Miner 1998a). Empirically, Moorman & Miner (1998b) found that improvi-
sation often replaced the use of standard procedures in new product develop-
ment and, in the presence of developed organizational memory, had positive
effects on design effectiveness and on cost savings. Orlikowski (1996), in her
study of changes in an incident tracking system, found repeated improvisation
in work practices that then led to restructuring. Similar descriptions are found
in Crossan et al (1996), Brown & Eisenhardt (1997), and Weick (1993).
The image of organization built around the idea of translation is one of a set-
ting where there is continuous adoption and editing (Sahlin-Andersson 1996)
of ideas that bypass the apparatus of planned change and have their impact
through a combination of fit with purposes at hand, institutional salience, and
chance. The idea that change is a continuous process of translation derives
from an extended gloss (Czarniawska & Sevon 1996) of Latour’s observation
that “the spread in time and place of anything—claims, orders, artefacts,
goods—is in the hands of people; each of these people may act in many differ-
ent ways, letting the token drop, or modifying it, or deflecting it, or betraying it
or adding to it, or appropriating it” (Latour 1986:267). The controlling image
is the travel of ideas and what happens when ideas are turned into new actions
in new localities (Czarniawska & Joerges 1996). Translation is not a synonym
for diffusion. The differences are crucial. The impetus for the spread of ideas
does not lie with the persuasiveness of the originator of the idea. Instead, the
impetus comes from imitators and from their conception of the situation, their
self-identity and others’ identity, and their analogical reasoning (Sevon 1996).
The first actor in the chain is no more important than the last; ideas do not
move from more saturated to less saturated environments; it is impossible to
know when the process concludes, since all ideas are in the air all the time and
are implemented depending on the purpose at hand (Czarniawska & Joerges
1996). A match between a purpose and an idea does not depend on inherent
properties of the idea. Instead, it is assumed that “most ideas can be proven to
fit most problems, assuming good will, creativity, and a tendency to consen-
sus” (p. 25). Thus, the act of translation creates the match.
The image of organization built around the idea of learning is one of a set-
ting where work and activity are defined by repertoires of actions and knowl-
edge and where learning itself is defined as “a change in an organization’s re-
sponse repertoire” (Sitkin et al 1998). What this adds to the understanding of
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continuous change is the idea that it is a range of skills and knowledge that is
altered rather than a specific action, as well as the idea that a change is not just
substitution but could also include strengthening existing skills. A change in
repertoire is also a change in the potential for action, which means action may
not be manifest at the time of learning (Pye 1994). To specify learning in terms
of a response repertoire is also to specify a mechanism by which change is re-
tained (Moorman & Miner 1997). Other retention-learning mechanisms dis-
cussed in the literature include organizational routines (March 1994), know-
how embedded in communities of practice (Brown & Duguid 1991), distrib-
uted memory (Wegner 1987), distributed information processing systems
(Tsoukas 1996), structures of collective mind (Weick & Roberts 1993), and
organizational memory (Walsh & Ungson 1991). Summaries of recent work
on organizational learning can be found in Huber (1991), Miller (1996),
Easterby-Smith (1997), Mirvis (1996), and Lundberg (1989).
In each of these three images, organizations produce continuous change by
means of repeated acts of improvisation involving simultaneous composition
and execution, repeated acts of translation that convert ideas into useful arti-
facts that fit purposes at hand, or repeated acts of learning that enlarge,
strengthen, or shrink the repertoire of responses.
Analytic Framework: The Continuous Change Process
The following description summarizes the analytic framework of continuous
change:
Each variation of a given form is not an abrupt or discrete event, neither is it,
by itself discontinuous. Rather, through a series of ongoing and situated ac-
commodations, adaptations, and alterations (that draw on previous varia-
tions and mediate future ones), sufficient modifications may be enacted over
time that fundamental changes are achieved. There is no deliberate orches-
tration of change here, no technological inevitability, no dramatic disconti-
nuity, just recurrent and reciprocal variations in practice over time. Each
shift in practice creates the conditions for further breakdowns, unanticipated
outcomes, and innovations, which in turn are met with more variations. Such
variations are ongoing; there is no beginning or end point in this change
process. (Orlikowski 1996:66)
Implicit in that description are several important processes, including
change through ongoing variations in practice, cumulation of variations, conti-
nuity in place of dramatic discontinuity, continuous disequilibrium as varia-
tions beget variations, and no beginning or end point. What is less prominent in
this description are key properties of episodic change, such as inertia, triggers,
and replacement. Continuous change could be viewed as a series of fast mini-
episodes of change, in which case inertia might take the form of tendencies to
normalization (Vaughan 1996) or competency traps (Levinthal & March
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1993). Triggers to change might take the form of temporal milestones (Gersick
1989, 1994) or dissonance between beliefs and actions (Inkpen & Crossan
1995). Replacements might take the form of substituting expert practices for
practices of novices (Klein 1998). But the more central issues in the case of
continuous change are those of continuity and scale.
Issues of continuity are associated with the concept of organizational cul-
ture (Trice & Beyer 1993). Culture is important in continuous change because it
holds the multiple changes together, gives legitimacy to nonconforming ac-
tions that improve adaptation and adaptability (Kotter & Heskett 1992), and
embeds the know-how of adaptation into norms and values (O’Reilly & Chat-
man 1996). Culture as the vehicle that preserves the know-how of adaptation is
implied in this description: “If we understand culture to be a stock of knowl-
edge that has been codified into a pattern of recipes for handling situations,
then very often with time and routine they become tacit and taken for granted
and form the schemas which drive action” (Colville et al 1993:559). Culture,
viewed as a stock of knowledge, serves as a scheme of expression that con-
strains what people do and a scheme of interpretation that constrains how the
doing is evaluated. To change culture is to change climate (e.g. Schneider et al
1996), uncover the tacit stock of knowledge by means of experiments that
surface the particulars (Colville et al 1993), or deconstruct organizational
language paradigms (Bate 1990). Although culture has been a useful vocabu-
lary to understand stability and change, there are growing suggestions that as
one moves away from treating it as a social control system, the concept may
become less meaningful (Jordan 1995).
The separate issue of scale arises because continuous changes in the form of
“situated micro-level changes that actors enact over time as they make sense of
and act in the world” (Orlikowski 1996:91) are often judged to be too small, too
much a follower strategy (Huber & Glick 1993:385), and even too “unAmer-
ican” (Hammond & Morrison 1996:Ch. 3) to be of much importance when hy-
perturbulence and quantum change confront organizations (Meyer et al 1993).
The analytical framework associated with continuous change interprets
scale in a different way. The fact that the changes are micro does not mean that
they are trivial (Staw & Sutton 1993, Staw 1991). Representative of this view
is Ford & Ford’s (1995) observation, “The macrocomplexity of organizations
is generated, and changes emerge through the diversity and interconnected-
ness of many microconversations, each of which follows relatively simple
rules” (p. 560). Small changes do not stay small, as complexity theory and the
second cybernetics (Maruyama 1963) make clear. Small changes can be deci-
sive if they occur at the edge of chaos. Furthermore, in interconnected systems,
there is no such thing as a marginal change, as Colville et al (1993) demon-
strated in their study of small experiments with culture change at British Cus-
toms. Microlevel changes also provide the platform for transformational
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change and the means to institutionalize it. Depictions of successful revolu-
tions, however, tend to downplay the degree to which earlier sequences of in-
cremental changes made them possible. This oversight is serious because peo-
ple tend to attribute the success of revolution to its break with the past and its
vision of the future, whereas that success may actually lie in its connection with
the past and its retrospective rewriting of what earlier micro-changes meant.
In conclusion, the basic analytical framework for continuous change as-
sumes that revolutions are not necessary to shatter what basically does not ex-
ist. Episodic change is driven by inertia and the inability of organizations to
keep up, while continuous change is driven by alertness and the inability of or-
ganizations to remain stable. The analytic framework for continuous change
specifies that contingencies, breakdowns, opportunities, and contexts make a
difference. Change is an ongoing mixture of reactive and proactive modifica-
tions, guided by purposes at hand, rather than an intermittent interruption of
periods of convergence.
Ideal Continuous Organizations
The “ideal organizations” described above in the context of episodic change
serve just as well as ideals for continuous change, since those ideals incorpo-
rate capabilities for both forms of change. Thus, that discussion is compatible
with the metaphors and analytical framework for continuous change.
Intervention Theory in Continuous Change
Lewin’s change model, with its assumptions of inertia, linearity, progressive
development, goal seeking, disequilibrium as motivator, and outsider inter-
vention, is relevant when it is necessary to create change. However, when
change is continuous, the problem is not one of unfreezing. The problem is one
of redirecting what is already under way. A different mindset is necessary, and
Marshak (1993) has suggested that one possibility derives from Confucian
thought. The relevant assumptions are (a) cyclical assumption (patterns of ebb
and flow repeat themselves), (b) processional assumption (movement involves
an orderly sequence through a cycle and departures cause disequilibrium), (c)
journey assumption (there is no end state), (d) equilibrium assumption (inter-
ventions are to restore equilibrium and balance), (e) appropriateness assump-
tion (correct action maintains harmony), and (f) change assumption (nothing
remains the same forever).
In the face of inertia, it makes sense to view a change intervention as a se-
quence of unfreeze, transition, refreeze. But in the face of continuous change, a
more plausible change sequence would be freeze, rebalance, unfreeze. To
freeze continuous change is to make a sequence visible and to show patterns in
what is happening (e.g. Argyris 1990). To freeze is to capture sequences by
means of cognitive maps (Fiol & Huff 1992, Eden et al 1992, Cossette &
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Audet 1992), schemas (Bartunek 1993, Tenkasi & Boland 1993), or war sto-
ries (Boje 1991, O’Connor 1996). To rebalance is to reinterpret, relabel, and
resequence the patterns so that they unfold with fewer blockages. To rebalance
is to reframe issues as opportunities (Dutton 1993), reinterpret history using
appreciative inquiry (e.g. Cooperrider & Srivasta 1987, Hammond 1996), to
differentiate more boldly among “the external world, the social world, and the
world of inner subjectivity” (Thachankary 1992:198), or to be responsive to
concerns about justice (Novelli et al 1995). Thus, a story of intense but unpro-
ductive meetings is rewritten as a story affirming the value of “corporateness”
in an international nonprofit organization (Thachankary 1992:221). Finally, to
unfreeze after rebalancing is to resume improvisation, translation, and learn-
ing in ways that are now more mindful of sequences, more resilient to anoma-
lies, and more flexible in their execution.
An important new means of rebalancing continuous change is the use of a
logic of attraction, which is the counterpart of the logic of replacement in epi-
sodic change. As the name implies, people change to a new position because
they are attracted to it, drawn to it, inspired by it. There is a focus on moral
power, the attractiveness or being state of the change agent, the freedom of the
change target, and the role of choice in the transformational process. Kotter
(1996) asks the question, is change something one manages or something one
leads? To manage change is to tell people what to do (a logic of replacement),
but to lead change is to show people how to be (a logic of attraction). RE Quinn
(1996) argues that most top managers assume that change is something that
someone with authority does to someone who does not have authority (e.g.
Boss & Golembiewski 1995). They overlook the logic of attraction and its
power to pull change.
To engage this logic of attraction, leaders must first make deep changes in
themselves, including self-empowerment (Spreitzer & Quinn 1996). When
deep personal change occurs, leaders then behave differently toward their di-
rect reports, and the new behaviors in the leader attract new behaviors from
followers. When leaders model personal change, organizational change is
more likely to take place. A similar logic is implicit in Cohen & Tichy’s (1997)
recent emphasis on top managers developing a teachable point of view. Lead-
ers who first consolidate their stories and ideas about what matters undergo
personal change before organizational change is attempted. Subsequent organ-
izational change is often more effective because it is led by more attractive
leaders. Beer et al (1990:194–95) raise the interesting subtlety, based on their
data, that inconsistency between word and action at the corporate level does
not affect change effectiveness, but it does have a negative effect for leaders at
the unit level. Their explanation is that inconsistency at the top is seen as nec-
essary to cope with diverse pressures from stockholders and the board but is
seen as insincerity and hypocrisy at other levels.
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Role of Change Agent in Continuous Change
If continuous change is altered by freezing and rebalancing, then the role of the
change agent becomes one of managing language, dialogue, and identity, as
we saw above. Change agents become important for their ability to make sense
(Weick 1995) of change dynamics already under way. They recognize adap-
tive emergent changes, make them more salient, and reframe them (Bate
1990). They explain current upheavals, where they are heading, what they will
have produced by way of a redesign, and how further intentional changes can
be made at the margins.
To redirect continuous change is to be sensitive to discourse. Schein (1993)
argues that dialogue, which he defines as interaction focused on thinking pro-
cesses and how they are preformed by past experience, enables groups to cre-
ate a shared set of meanings and a common thinking process. “The most basic
mechanism of acquiring new information that leads to cognitive restructuring
is to discover in a conversational process that the interpretation that someone
else puts on a concept is different from one’s own” (Schein 1996:31). Barrett et
al (1995) and Dixon (1997) also argue that the most powerful change interven-
tions occur at the level of everyday conversation. J Quinn (1996) demonstrates
in the context of strategic change that good conversation is vocal, reciprocat-
ing, issues-oriented, rational, imaginative, and honest. And Ford & Ford
(1995) argue that change agents produce change through various combinations
of five kinds of speech acts: assertives or claims, directives or requests, com-
missives or promises, expressives that convey affective state, and declarations
that announce a new operational reality. These speech acts occur in different
combinations to constitute four different conversations: conversations of
change, understanding, performance, and closure.
CONCLUSION
Our review suggests both that change starts with failures to adapt and that
change never starts because it never stops. Reconciliation of these disparate
themes is a source of ongoing tension and energy in recent change research.
Classic machine bureaucracies, with their reporting structures too rigid to
adapt to faster-paced change, have to be unfrozen to be improved. Yet with dif-
ferentiation of bureaucratic tasks comes more internal variation, more diverse
views of distinctive competence, and more diverse initiatives. Thus, while
some things may appear not to change, other things do. Most organizations
have pockets of people somewhere who are already adjusting to the new envi-
ronment. The challenge is to gain acceptance of continuous change throughout
the organization so that these isolated innovations will travel and be seen as
relevant to a wider range of purposes at hand.
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Recent work suggests, ironically, that to understand organizational change
one must first understand organizational inertia, its content, its tenacity, its in-
terdependencies. Recent work also suggests that change is not an on-off phe-
nomenon nor is its effectiveness contingent on the degree to which it is
planned. Furthermore, the trajectory of change is more often spiral or open-
ended than linear. All of these insights are more likely to be kept in play if re-
searchers focus on “changing” rather than “change.” A shift in vocabulary
from “change” to “changing” directs attention to actions of substituting one
thing for another, of making one thing into another thing, or of attracting one
thing to become other than it was. A concern with “changing” means greater
appreciation that change is never off, that its chains of causality are longer and
less determinate than we anticipated, and that whether one’s viewpoint is
global or local makes a difference in the rate of change that will be observed,
the inertias that will be discovered, and the size of accomplishments that will
have been celebrated.
A
CKNOWLEDGMENTS
We acknowledge with appreciation fruitful discussions of key points with
Dave Schwandt, Lance Sandelands, Jane Dutton, Wayne Baker, Anjali Sastry,
and Matt Brown, with special thanks to Kathleen Sutcliffe for thoughtful com-
mentary on various drafts of the complete argument.
Visit the Annual Reviews home page at
http://www.AnnualReviews.org.
382 WEICK & QUINN
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Annual Review of Psychology
Volume 50, 1999
CONTENTS
On Knowing a Word, George A. Miller 1
Cognitive Development: Children's Knowledge About the Mind, John H.
F
lavell
21
Conflict in Marriage: Implications for Working with Couples, Frank D.
F
incham, Steven R. H. Beach
47
Psychopathology: Description and Classification, P. E. Nathan, J. W.
L
an
g
enbucher
79
Deductive Reasoning, P. N. Johnson-Laird
109
Health Psychology: Mapping Biobehaviorial Contributions to Health and
Illness,
A
ndrew Baum, Donna M. Posluszn
y
137
Interventions for Couples,
. Christensen, C. L. Heavey
165
Emotion,
J
ohn T. Cacioppo, Wendi L. Gardner
191
Quantifying the Information Value of Clinical Assessments with Signal
Detection Theor
y
,
J
ohn T. Cacio
pp
o, Wendi L. Gardner
215
High-Level Scene Perception, John M. Henderson, Andrew Hollingworth 243
Interpersonal Processes: The Interplay of Cognitive, Motivational, and
Behavioral Activities in Social Interaction, Mark Snyder, Arthur A.
Stukas Jr.
273
Somesthesis,
J
ames C. Craig, Gary B. Rollman
305
Peer Relationships and Social Competence During Early and Middle
Childhood, Gar
y
W. Ladd
333
Organizational Change and Development, Karl E. Weick, Robert E.
Q
uinn
361
Social, Community, and Preventive Interventions, N. D. Reppucci, J. L.
Woolard, C. S. Fried
387
The Suggestibility of Children's Memory, Maggie Bruck, Stephen J. Ceci 419
Individual Psychotherapy Outcome and Process Research: Challenges to
Greater Turmoil or a Positive Transition?, S. Mark Kopta, Robert J.
L
ue
g
er, Ste
p
hen M. Saunders, Kenneth I. Howard
441
Lifespan Psychology: Theory and Application to Intellectual Functioning,
Paul B. Baltes, Ursula M. Staudinger, Ulman Lindenberger
471
Influences on Infant Speech Processing: Toward a New Synthesis, Janet
F
. Werker, Richard C. Tees
509
Survey Research,
J
on A. Krosnick
537
Trust and Distrust in Organizations: Emerging Perspectives, Enduring
Questions,
R
oderick M. Kramer
569
Single-Gene Influences of Brain and Behavior, D. Wahlsten
599
The Psychological Underpinnings of Democracy: A Selective Review of
Research on Political Tolerance, Interpersonal Trust, J. L. Sullivan, J. E.
Transue
625
Neuroethology of Spatial Learning: The Birds and the Bees, E. A.
Ca
p
aldi, G. E. Robinson, S. E. Fahrbach
651
Current Issues and Emerging Theories in Animal Cognition, S. T. Boysen,
G. T. Himes 683
Annu. Rev. Psychol. 1999.50:361-386. Downloaded from www.annualreviews.org
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