Imagery of Regent people and campus

Dissertation Abstract

Understanding How to Change: An Inductive Determination of How Agents of State Government Plan, Lead, and Sustain Change

Tim Rahschulte
July 2007

This dissertation started with a simple question: Why is it so difficult to lead successful organizational change initiatives? The dynamics of organizational behavior support a plethora of complex answers to this simple question. Indeed, literature abounds regarding the need for organizational change, individual transformation, and living system adaptation. However, Jaworski, Gozdz, and Senge (1998) noted that although much has been written about organizational change, there is little offered in literature about how to achieve change. Beer and Nohria (2000) added that existing organizational change theory is not sufficient to address organizational transformation especially relative to the people side of change. Wall (2004) echoed in this void claiming there is still no practical organizational change process, technique, or formula available to plan, lead, and sustain change. This brief literature suggests that organizational change is difficult due in part because there is not a clearly practical explanation of how to change. Thus, the grand aim here is to provide an understanding of how to change, and offer what is commonly referred to as change implementation theory (Bennis, 1966). The research approach to accomplish this aim took a constructivist knowledge claim position in that theory generation is the goal. The strategy of inquiry followed a qualitative research method using grounded theory protocols. Theory building was data driven largely from expert interviews. However, existing literature and emerging approaches were also employed alongside constant comparative analysis throughout the study. The result is detailed herein as an organizational change implementation theory and utilitarian change leadership field guide regarding how best to plan, lead, and sustain organizational change.