Explaining strategic change in international organisations
This thesis explains the processes and varying outputs of international organisational change. Specifically, it examines how and why strategic change in international organisations varies across one global thematic area: forests. Three types of change - punctuated, incremental and regressive - resulted in a number of international organisations from May 1994-May 2005. Change processes in the forest arena are particularly complex and political, and provide for highly variable planning approaches. Yet, little is known about the way in which strategic change processes occurred in these organisations and why particular types of change ensued. This research expands theories of organisational change and closes gaps in empirical research about strategic processes in international organisations. Specifically, it challenges Baumgartner and Jones' (2002) use of the punctuated equilibrium view of politics and expands Sastry's (1997) theory of punctuated organisational change. The empirical work centres around two research questions: How and why do strategic change processes occur in international organisations. What affects each output of the process. A qualitative, comparative case study methodology was used to capture the dynamic and complex strategic change processes in four organisations, the: UN Forum on Forests; International Tropical Timber Organization; World Bank; and Food and Agriculture Organization. The empirical data is explained using insights from system dynamics, especially causal loop diagrams, to show the dominant effects of negative and positive feedback on strategic change outputs. The comparative research explains why different strategic change processes can, but rarely do, produce radical shifts in change outputs. The research concludes that radical strategic change occurred in organisations where clear qualitative and quantitative assessments of performance and process innovation were strongest. It reveals the need for 'loose' governance structures early in strategic processes, the importance of clear organisational performance criteria and the key role of powerful institutions in supporting change initiatives. It proposes a model of strategic change in international organisations and suggests future areas of research.