Cultural transitions : organisational change and its impact in culture
This thesis explores, from a cultural perspective, the organisational change process resulting from a string of take-overs within Blazehard, a tyre manufacturing company in Spain. It looks at the effects of these changes in the way people reconstruct the organisation and their role as its employees through the stories they share. The first part of the thesis elaborates on the uses of culture as a conceptual tool for observing organisations and, especially, on the need to account for the complementary processes of continuity and change in social experience. The thesis proposes historical recollections, as cultural manifestations, as a vehicle that reproduces and challenges a cultural order through their reproduction and generation within that order. They articulate a space where the new and the uncertain can be made safe through their integration into the traditional and the known, thereby providing possibilities for permanence and security as well as for innovation. The research combines different methods of data gathering - interviews, documents and group discussions - and of analysis - narratives and discourses to facilitate the exploration of both the commonalties and the diverse interests and perspectives existing among Blazehard employees. The exploration of the stories shows how they compose a collectively reproduced narrative that guides -and therefore constrains- employees' historical recollections. This referential narrative is the vehicle through which people reproduce but also challenge their cultural order in the organisation. As such, storytelling is presented as the constant process of reformulation that opens possibilities for individual development within the cultural constraints that the organisation imposes on its members. The results suggest when people try to make sense of a change situation both turn to their own experiential resources and use the symbols that their cultural environment provides. It is in the tension between the two, that the conditions of fluidity and ambiguity required for a cultural transition can be created.