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Title: How learning, unlearning, and power contribute to sustained change : a case study of an EMS company in Trinidad and Tobago
Author: Anderson, Paul
Awarding Body: University of Liverpool
Current Institution: University of Liverpool
Date of Award: 2019
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This case study inquiry in a high-change environment examines the barriers to sustaining change. The company where the case study was conducted is an emergency medical service enterprise in a small island, autonomous Caribbean state situated in the West Indies. The company was formed in 2005 to manage the national emergency ambulance service component of the National Health Service (NHS); it is the only aspect of the NHS to be fully outsourced to the private sector. The stated rationale for outsourcing the service was broad dissatisfaction of outcomes and the need for accelerated improvement to this essential service. Since its inception, the company was charged to enact dramatic improvement to the performance and reliability of the emergency ambulance service; consequently, episodic and continuous change is germane to the company strategy. Although the company generally enacts and sustains change with durability, the company leadership detected an occasional and unpredictable phenomenon where the company failed to sustain change. This problem is typified by actors reverting to original displayed paradigms of organizational function, portraying a mediocre state that is less than the organization's true performance potential. As the problem's emergence is unpredictable, company leaders experimented with various strategies to reenact change once the reversion to displaced paradigms was detected. Because the company was formed to enact change as its very essence, the company requires a durable change methodology to sustain continuous and episodic change. AIM – The aim of the research is to determine what causes the company to occasionally fail to sustain change and what causes actors to abandon enacted change and revert to the pre-change state of organizational function. The research seeks to inform company to sustain change. LITERATURE – The research draws from relevant works on learning and unlearning, complacency and mediocrity, and power; works from these topics that are produced in the context of change factor prominently to frame the inquiry. METHOD – The study was conducted as a single case, case study, employing insider action research from semi-structured interviews and focus groups. THEORY – The most prevalent management theories integrated into the study pertain to learning, unlearning and power. The study especially considers the theoretical framework of unlearning that follows destabilization and interruption of established routines from both an intentional and unintentional context, and how informal power influences the formation and perpetuation of beliefs and routines. OUTCOMES – The research produces actionable knowledge to holistically enact change that is durably sustained and resistant to the intention of actors to revert their company to the pre-change state. FINDING – The study found that reverting from change is most commonly pursued to preserve sources of informal power; actors do so with both noble and deviant intention, exploiting perceived complacency in others to revert to the pre-change state of the company. UNIQUENESS – The research proposes simplicity to enact sustained change from a complex paradigm of intentional and unintentional learning and unlearning at the individual, group and organizational layers of company, through the attachment and detachment of beliefs, routines, and artefact.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (D.B.A.) Qualification Level: Doctoral