An action research approach to enhance personal and organizational capability by developing expertise in cultural change management

Moore, Andrew (2015) An action research approach to enhance personal and organizational capability by developing expertise in cultural change management. Doctorate (other than PhD) thesis, University of Southern Queensland. (Unpublished)


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The culture of an organisation can have a significant impact on its leaders’ abilities to generate desired organisational or market outcomes. On this basis an improved ability to manage changes in these cultures would benefit to organisational leaders and change agents.

In this doctoral project, three cultural change management subprojects were undertaken in separate organisations with the objective of generating positive cultural change in each. This change was to be generated by focussing each organisation on a set of espoused corporate values, and using this focus to influence the underlying assumptions held by people in each organisation.

The project was undertaken utilising the action research methodology in the planning and execution of the project, and in the structural writing of this thesis. Action research cycles of planning, action and reflection were used as the process for guiding the project toward its
objectives. The project objectives were designed to generate three contributions from the project: one to the client organisations, one to the professional development of the researcher, and one for professional practice itself. These three contributions form the output of the
doctoral project.

The research concluded that an organisation’s culture is already adaptive in nature, and as such its underlying reason for being should be understood before an attempt is made to change it. The research also concluded that a focus on espoused corporate values alone was not sufficient to generate culture change, and that a variety of other factors were more influential on the culture. It found, that in order to manage culture change, a change agent
needs to influence these underlying factors that form culture, rather than rely on rhetorical tools such as espoused corporate values.

Specifically, this thesis recommends minimising managed culture change, changing existing cultural elements rather than introducing new ones, a focus on managing generators of
cultural elements rather than their consequent behaviours, and reducing the mental effort required for individuals to change so as to increase their capacity for it. Lastly, the research recommends change agents choose their approach to an intervention differently depending on the level of predictability they personally have about the outcomes of the intervention. Three approaches are recommended: pure observation, trial interventions, and pre-planned

These findings are significant in their debunking of the corporate assumption that culture can be managed through espoused corporate values alone. The findings contribute to knowledge through the recommended approach and actions for practitioners. Following these recommendations, this thesis suggests that practitioners will significantly increase both their chances of achieving change in an organisations culture, and of that change in the end being beneficial to the organisation.

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Item Type: Thesis (Non-Research) (Doctorate (other than PhD))
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: Doctor of Professional Studies (DPST) (coursework) thesis.
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Historic - Faculty of Business, Education, Law and Arts - School of Management and Enterprise (1 Jul 2013 - 17 Jan 2021)
Supervisors: Millett, Bruce
Date Deposited: 24 Aug 2015 06:18
Last Modified: 25 Sep 2019 04:37
Uncontrolled Keywords: cultural change management; organizational change; managing change
Fields of Research (2008): 15 Commerce, Management, Tourism and Services > 1503 Business and Management > 150312 Organisational Planning and Management
15 Commerce, Management, Tourism and Services > 1503 Business and Management > 150305 Human Resources Management
Fields of Research (2020): 35 COMMERCE, MANAGEMENT, TOURISM AND SERVICES > 3507 Strategy, management and organisational behaviour > 350711 Organisational planning and management
35 COMMERCE, MANAGEMENT, TOURISM AND SERVICES > 3505 Human resources and industrial relations > 350503 Human resources management

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