The Phenomena of Change: A Qualitative Study of the Perspective of the
Maureen M. Nixon
Two-thirds of 765 CEO’s worldwide in IBM’s Global CEO Study 2006 anticipated an inundation of change during the next 2 years, yet success rates for change initiatives have been reported well below 50% in a number of studies. While change has been extensively examined from the view of the leader and numerous prescriptions developed for successful change, a review of the literature revealed that little focus had been placed upon the perspective of the non-managerial organizational citizen tasked with carrying out change. This phenomenological study fills this void by exploring the question of how organizational citizens perceive and experience the phenomena of change. Four focus groups were conducted with 21 organizational citizens from a variety of organizations, large and small. Through the interaction of the focus groups, 10 major themes emerged: (a) how change is presented, (b) communication, (c) planning, (d) participation in decision making, (e) technology, (f) leadership changes, (g) training, (h) positive aspects of change, (i) resistance, and (j) negative aspects of change. A written essence of change narrative was prepared and confirmed by over half the participants in the research. The study reveals that organizational citizens see change as an event, not a process. This research also demonstrates the value of exploring change holistically as organizational citizens do not separate change from the event and their reactions are complex. Focus group participants responded that resistance to change is not necessarily inherent, rather dependent upon the situation which led to continued optimism that a new change may bring improvement. Focus group participants expressed a desire for partnership with their organizations through participation in decision making.
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