Systems thinking and managing organisational change
This thesis is about how systems thinking might contribute to the successful management of change (MOC). The motivation is the increasing importance of MOC in an environment where competition and internationalisation of markets are ever intensifying: organisations either "change or die", yet MOC suffers adversely with unacceptably high failure rates. A critique of MOC literature shows that current MOe methodology is characterised by reductionist approaches with a diversity of confusing and contradictory suggestions and recipes. This is seen to be impoverished where different types of organisational change are interacting. All these suggest that MOC methodology itself needs to be improved and a systemic approach is more appropriate. In search of methodological underpinnings for proposing a systemic approach to MOC, literature on systems thinking is reviewed, indicating that systems approaches, especially critical systems thinking, are potentially powerful to inform the development of MOC. Nevertheless, important questions are raised about applying systems ideas to MOC. Further research is needed. And this has been done by triangulating data, theory and method to develop a fuller understanding of systems perspectives and their relevance to MOC. By combining MOC and systems thinking together in a theoretically informed way, a systemic MOC framework is suggested and revised. This framework is seen to provide a characterisation of MOC by identifying the conceptual components, a coherent theoretical structure by specifying and ordering the relationships between these components, and a way of helping understand and manage the diversity in organisational change systemically. This framework is theoretically underpinned and applied to a case study where different types of organisational change and their interactions are surfaced. The outcomes firmly support the view that MOe is characterised by different types of organisational change and their interactions, for which systemic approaches are more appropriate; thus the systemic MOC framework developed is seen to be useful in helping understand and manage organisational change more effectively. The findings are critiqued within the study, and from this come out the conclusions, and recommendations for future research.