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An evaluation of the strengths and limitations of a rational and strategic approach to organizational change

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  1. Introduction
  2. Model-Ideal conceptualization of organizational goal-directed-activity
  3. Approaches to strategy and organizational change
    1. Classical strategy and planned organizational change
    2. A Critical Theoretical (CT) perspective on strategy and organizational change
    3. Postmodernism and strategy/organizational change
  4. The strengths and limitations of classical, emergent, social-rational, and postmodern rational/strategic modes in organizational change
    1. The classical mode
    2. The emergent mode
    3. The socio-rational mode
    4. The postmodern (rhetorical) mode
  5. Some (additional) conclusions
  6. Bibliography

Following the brief introduction of a model-ideal conceptualization of Organizational Goal-Directed-Activity, and the definition within the perspective defined by this model of such terms like ?rational (organizational) action system', ?strategy', and ?organizational change', the first part of this essay presents a non-evaluative summary of a selection of distinct approaches to organizational change. Various approaches to strategy are similarly addressed in an attempt to register and explore some of the links that have been identified by a number of authors between positions on strategy reviewed and corresponding approaches to organizational change.

The second part, bypassing the rather common practice of partitioning the set of organizational change approaches into largely non-overlapping rational and non rational, strategic and non strategic, subsets, identifies a number of distinct Rational and/or Strategic Modes, associates them with the approaches to organizational change reviewed in the first part, and attempts an integrated appraisal of the distinctive strengths and limitations such diverse Modes confer to the approaches to change that invoke and utilize them.

[...] Hartley (eds) Readings in Social Psychology. New York:Holt, Rinehart & Winston. Lupia, A., McCubbins, M.D., & Popkin, S.L. (2000). Elements of Reason: Cognition, Choice, and the Bounds of Rationality. Cambridge University Press. Mellers, B.A. (1998). Judgement and decision making. Annual Review of Psychology (found in Mintzberg, H., Ahlstrand, B., & Lampel, J. (1998). Strategy safari: The complete quide through the wilds of strategic management. FT Prentice Hall. Pettigrew, A.M. (1987). Context and action in the transformation of a firm. Journal [...]

[...] & Badham, R. (1999). Power, Politics, and Organizational Change: Winning the Turf Game. SAGE. Burnes, B. (2000). Managing Change: A strategic Approach to Organizational Dynamics. FT Prentice Hall. Chandler, A.D. (1962). Strategy and Structure: Chapters in the History of American Industrial Enterprise. MIT: Cambridge, USA. Darwin, J., Johnson, P. & McAuley, J. (2002). Developing Strategies for Change. FT Prentice Hall. Elster, J. (1999). Alchemies of the mind: Rationality and the emotions. Cambridge University Press. Finstad, N. (1998). The rhetoric of organizational change. [...]

[...] This does not, of course, completely remove the need to establish the extent to which the courses of action taken in organizational change settings are efficient and effective in the way our model-theoretic definition of rational action systems requires. It would follow from the above that it is only rational to exploit the rationality of the Classical Mode in predictable and relatively simple environments where it manifests its greatest strengths and in settings that do not tax the boundedness of its rationality. [...]

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