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A Multiple Perspectives Approach
Third Edition
Ian Palmer
Richard Dunford
David A. Buchanan
Published by McGraw-Hill Education, 2 Penn Plaza, New York, NY 10121. Copyright © 2017 by McGraw-Hill Education. All rights reserved. Printed
in the United States of America. Previous editions © 2009 and 2006. No part of this publication may be reproduced or distributed in any form or by any
means, or stored in a database or retrieval system, without the prior written consent of McGraw-Hill Education, including, but not limited to, in any network
or other electronic storage or transmission, or broadcast for distance learning.
Some ancillaries, including electronic and print components, may not be available to customers outside the United States.
This book is printed on acid-free paper.
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ISBN 978-0-07-353053-6
MHID 0-07-353053-0
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Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Palmer, Ian, 1957Managing organizational change : a multiple perspectives approach / Ian Palmer, Richard Dunford,
David A. Buchanan. — Third Edition.
p. cm.
Revised edition of Managing organizational change, 2009.
Includes bibliographical references and index.
ISBN 978-0-07-353053-6 (alk. paper)
1. Organizational change. 2. Organizational change–Management. I. Dunford, Richard.
II. Buchanan, David A. III. Title.
HD58.8.P347 2016
The Internet addresses listed in the text were accurate at the time of publication. The inclusion of a website does not indicate an endorsement by the
authors or McGraw-Hill Education, and McGraw-Hill Education does not guarantee the accuracy of the information presented at these sites.
From Ian
To Dianne, Matthew, and Michelle
From Richard
To Jill, Nick, and Ally
From David
To Lesley with love—and thanks
This book is also dedicated to the memory of Gib Akin, our
co-author from 2005 to 2014.
A number of people have contributed to this edition, and we owe them all a debt of gratitude, including Jonathan Bamber, Lesley Buchanan, Daloni Carlile, Mimi Clarke, and
Alastair McLellan. In addition, we would like to thank our McGraw-Hill Education team,
including Michael Ablassmeir, Director, Laura Hurst Spell, Senior Product Developer; Jeni
McAtee, Evan Roberts, Karen Jozefowicz, Content Project Managers; Gunjan Chandola
(Lumina), Full-Service Content Project Manager; and DeAnna Dausener, Content Licensing Specialist. We would also like to thank the second edition reviewers for their helpful
feedback: Diane Bandow, Troy University; Cynthia Bean, University of South Florida–
St. Petersburg; Bradford R. Frazier, Pfeiffer University; Dominie Garcia, San Jose State
University; Selina Griswold, University of Toledo; Mark Hannan, George Washington
University; Christopher S. Howard, Pfeiffer University; Jim Kerner, Athens State University; Catherine Marsh, North Park University; Patricia A. Matuszek, Troy University;
Ranjna Patel, Bethune Cookman University; Mary Sass, Western Washington University;
Dennis Self, Troy University; Patricia Scescke, National Louis University.
Brief contents
Groundwork: Understanding and Diagnosing Change
Managing Change: Stories and Paradoxes 3

Images of Change Management 31
Why Change? Contemporary Pressures and Drivers 61
What to Change? A Diagnostic Approach 101
Implementation: The Substance and Process of Change
What Changes—and What Doesn’t? 139
Vision and the Direction of Change 171
Change Communication Strategies 205
Resistance to Change 249
Organization Development and Sense-Making Approaches 279
Change Management, Processual, and Contingency Approaches 315
Running Threads: Sustainability, and the
Effective Change Manager 353
Sustaining Change versus Initiative Decay 355
The Effective Change Manager: What Does It Take? 385
Name Index
Subject Index
Part 1
Groundwork: Understanding and
Diagnosing Change 1
1 Managing Change: Stories and
Paradoxes 3
Learning objectives 3
Stories About Change: What Can We
Learn? 4
The Story of Beth Israel Deaconess
Medical Center 5
The Story of Sears Holdings 8
The Story of J. C. Penney 10
Tension and Paradox: The State of the Art 14
Assessing Depth of Change 18
What’s Coming Up: A Road Map 19
Change Diagnostic: The Beth Israel Story 21
Change Diagnostic: The Sears Holdings
Story 23
Change Diagnostic: The J. C. Penney Story 24
Exercise 1.1: Writing Your Own Story of
Change 26
Additional Reading 27
Roundup 27
References 28
2 Images of Change Management 31
Learning objectives 31
What’s in a Name: Change Agents, Managers,
or Leaders? 32
Images, Mental Models, Frames,
Perspectives 33
The Six-Images Framework 34
Six Images of Change Management 37
Using the Six-Images Framework 46
Self-Assessment: What Is Your Image of
Managing Change? 49
Self-Assessment: Scoring 51
Exercise 2.1: Assessing Change Managers’
Images 52
Exercise 2.2: The Turnaround Story at
Leonard Cheshire 53
Additional Reading 55
Roundup 56
References 57
3 Why Change? Contemporary Pressures
and Drivers 61
Learning objectives 61
Environmental Pressures for Change 62
Why Do Organizations Not Change in
Response to Environmental Pressures? 79
Why Do Organizations Not Change after
Crises? 82
Internal Organizational Change Drivers 85
Exercise 3.1: Top Team Role Play 91
Exercise 3.2: Case Analysis: The Sunderland
City Story 91
Exercise 3.3: The Reputation Trap: Can You
Escape? 92
Additional Reading 93
Roundup 94
References 96
4 What to Change? A Diagnostic
Approach 101
Learning objectives 101
Organizational Models 102
Organization Strategy and Change 108
Diagnosing Readiness for Change 117
Built-to-Change 124
Exercise 4.1: The Capital One Financial
Story 125
Contents vii
Exercise 4.2: Scenario Planning 127
Exercise 4.3: Readiness for Change
Analysis 128
Additional Reading 130
Roundup 131
References 134
Exercise 6.3: The Role of Vision at Mentor
Graphics 197
Additional Reading 198
Roundup 199
References 201
Part 2
Implementation: The Substance and
Process of Change 137
5 What Changes—and What
Doesn’t? 139
Learning objectives 139
What Changes? 140
Innovation 146
Organizational Culture 150
Technology 155
Exercise 5.1: The Nampak Story 161
Exercise 5.2: Organizational Culture
Assessment 162
Exercise 5.3: How Will the Digital Revolution
Affect Your Organization? 163
Additional Reading 163
Roundup 164
References 166
6 Vision and the Direction
of Change 171
Learning objectives 171
Vision: Fundamental or Fad? 172
The Characteristics of Effective Visions
How Context Affects Vision 180
How Visions Are Developed 181
Why Visions Fail 187
Linking Vision to Change: Three
Debates 189
Exercise 6.1: Interviewing Change
Recipients 197
Exercise 6.2: Analyze Your Own
Organization’s Vision 197
7 Change Communication
Strategies 205
Learning objectives 205
The Change Communication Process 206
Gender, Power, and Emotion 211
Language Matters: The Power
of Conversation 215
Change Communication Strategies 222
Contingency Approaches to Change
Communication 228
Communication Channels and the Role
of Social Media 232
Exercise 7.1: Listen to Who’s Talking 238
Exercise 7.2: How Defensive Are You? 239
Exercise 7.3: Social Media at the
Museum 240
Additional Reading 241
Roundup 242
References 244
8 Resistance to Change 249
Learning objectives 249
WIIFM, WAMI, and the Dimensions
of Resistance 250
Benefits 251
Causes 253
Symptoms 260
Managers as Resisters 261
Managing Resistance 263
Exercise 8.1: Diagnosing and Acting 270
Exercise 8.2: Jack’s Dilemma 270
Exercise 8.3: Moneyball 271
Additional Reading 272
Roundup 272
References 274
viii Contents
9 Organization Development and
Sense-Making Approaches 279
Learning objectives 279
Alternative Approaches to Managing
Change 280
Organization Development (OD) 280
Appreciative Inquiry (AI) 291
Positive Organizational Scholarship (POS) 293
Dialogic Organizational Development 295
Sense-Making 298
Exercise 9.1: Reports from the Front Line 304
Exercise 9.2: Designing a Large-Scale Change
Intervention 304
Exercise 9.3: Making Sense of
Sense-Making 304
Exercise 9.4: Interpreting the Interpreter:
Change at Target 305
Exercise 9.5: Change at DuPont 306
Additional Reading 308
Roundup 308
References 310
10 Change Management, Processual, and
Contingency Approaches 315
Learning objectives 315
Alternative Approaches to Managing
Change 316
Why Change Fails 317
Change by Checklist 319
Stage Models of Change Management 325
Process Perspectives on Change 331
Contingency Approaches to Change
Management 335
Exercise 10.1: Develop Your Own Change
Model 341
Exercise 10.2: The British Airways Swipe
Card Debacle 342
Exercise 10.3: The Italian Job 344
Additional Reading 346
Roundup 346
References 349
Part 3
Running Threads: Sustainability, and
the Effective Change Manager 353
11 Sustaining Change versus
Initiative Decay 355
Learning objectives 355
Initiative Decay and Improvement
Evaporation 356
Praiseworthy and Blameworthy Failures 359
Actions to Sustain Change 362
Words of Warning 369
Exercise 11.1: A Balanced Set of
Measures 373
Exercise 11.2: Treating Initiative Decay 373
Exercise 11.3: The Challenger and Columbia
Shuttle Disasters 374
Additional Reading 379
Roundup 380
References 382
12 The Effective Change Manager:
What Does It Take? 385
Learning objectives 385
Change Managers: Who Are They? 386
Change Managers: What Kind of Role
Is This? 394
Change Management Competencies 397
Political Skill and the Change Manager 403
Developing Change Management
Expertise 410
Exercise 12.1: Networking—How Good
Are You? 412
Exercise 12.2: How Resilient Are You? 413
Exercise 12.3: How Political Is Your
Organization? 415
Additional Reading 416
Roundup 417
References 419
Name Index 423
Subject Index 433
Since the previous edition of this book published in 2009, the organizational world has
changed dramatically—the global financial crisis, fresh geopolitical tensions, environmental concerns, greater focus on corporate social responsibility, economic uncertainties,
emerging new markets, dramatic technological developments, demographic shifts, changing consumer tastes and expectations. Add to that mix the growing significance of social
media, where positive and critical views of organizations and their products and services
can be shared instantly and globally with large numbers of people.
From a management perspective, it feels as though the drivers for organizational change
are now more numerous, and that the pace of change has also increased; more pressure,
more change, faster change. While the pace of change may only appear to have quickened,
failure to respond to those pressures, and in some cases failure to respond quickly enough,
can have significant individual and corporate consequences. The personal and organizational stakes appear to have increased.
The management of organizational change thus remains a topic of strategic importance for most sectors, public and private. Current conditions have, if anything, increased
the importance of this area of management responsibility. This new edition, therefore,
is timely with regard to updating previous content, while introducing new and emerging
trends, developments, themes, debates, and practices.
In the light of this assessment, we believe that the multiple perspectives approach is
particularly valuable, recognizing the variety of ways in which change can be progressed,
and reinforcing the need for a tailored and creative approach to fit different contexts. Our
images of how organizational change should be managed affect the approaches that we
take to understanding and managing change. Adopting different images and perspectives
helps to open up new and more innovative ways of approaching the change management
process. We hope that this approach will help to guide and to inspire others in pursuit of
their own responsibilities for managing organizational change.
This text is aimed at two main readers. The first is an experienced practicing manager
enrolled in an MBA or a similar master’s degree program, or taking part in a management
development course that includes a module on organizational change management. The
second is a senior undergraduate, who may have less practical experience, but who will
probably have encountered organizational change through temporary work assignments,
or indirectly through family and friends. Our senior undergraduate is also likely to be
planning a management career, or to be heading for a professional role that will inevitably involve management—and change management—responsibilities. Given the needs
and interests of both types of readers, we have sought to present an appropriate blend of
research and theory on the one hand, and practical management application on the other.
Instructors who have used our previous edition will find many familiar features in this
update. The chapter structure and sequence of the book remain much the same, with some
minor adjustments to accommodate new material. The overall argument is again underpinned
by the observation that the management of organizational change is in part a rational or technical task, and is also a creative activity, with the need to design novel strategies and processes
x Preface
that are consistent with the needs of unique local conditions. We hope that readers will find
the writing style and presentation clear and engaging. We have also maintained the breadth of
coverage of the different traditions and perspectives that contribute to the theory and practice
of managing organizational change, with international examples where appropriate.
The development of this new edition has introduced new content and new pedagogical
features. The new content for this edition includes the following:
Depth of change: Change can be categorized and understood with regard to how deeply
it penetrates an organization. A “depth of change” model is explained, using a “shallow to transformational” scale, forming the basis for discussion and analysis at various
points in the text (chapters 1, 4, and 12).
New tensions and debates: A new section explores contemporary dilemmas in organizational change management. One of these concerns striking the balance between
large-scale transformational change (which can be disruptive) and “sweating the small
stuff” (which can create a platform for further changes). A second concerns pace, with
some commentators advising how to speed up change, while others warn of the dangers
of “the acceleration trap” (chapter 1).
Change managers or change leaders: Some commentators claim this is an important
distinction, while others argue that this is a words game. Can we resolve this debate
(chapter 2)?
Post-crisis change: Recommendations for change from investigations into accidents,
misconduct, and catastrophes are often not implemented. We explore why this should
be the case—in conditions where it might be presumed that change would be welcome
and straightforward (chapter 3). We also consider briefly the problems and practice of
communication during and after crises (chapter 7).
Change in a recession: Is change more challenging when economic conditions are difficult? A new section argues that change may be more straightforward during a recession (chapter 3).
Innovation: We explore how change is driven by the proactive development, adoption, and diffusion of product and operational innovations, along with the distinction
between sustaining and disruptive innovations, and the nature and development of
innovative organization cultures (chapter 4).
Built to change: We explore the organizational capabilities that contribute to change,
adaptation, responsiveness, and agility, considering mechanistic and organic management systems, segmentalist and integrative cultures, and the concept of the “built-tochange” organization (chapter 4).
Change communication strategies: This chapter has been thoroughly updated, with the
emphasis on change communication, exploring the characteristics of effective change
communication strategies, the potential impact and applications of social media as corporate communications tools, and the “communication escalator” (chapter 7).
Middle management blockers: The traditional stereotype has middle managers subverting top team initiatives. Recent research suggests that this image is wrong, and
that middle management are often the source of creative strategic ideas as well as the
“engine room” for delivery (chapters 8 and 12).
Preface xi
Organization development and sense-making approaches: As in the previous edition,
recent developments in organization development, appreciative inquiry, positive organizational scholarship, and dialogic organization development are explored (chapter 9).
Contingency and processual approaches: Covered in the last edition, recent developments have been incorporated to update these sections, reflecting their influence on
theory and practice (chapter 10).
Praiseworthy and blameworthy failures: The section on “recognizing productive failures” has been updated with recent commentary suggesting that some failures should
be rewarded (chapter 11).
The effective change manager: What does it take? This new chapter explores the capabilities of change managers, considering competency frameworks, interpersonal communication processes and skills, issue-selling tactics, and the need for the change
manager to be politically skilled (chapter 12).
The pedagogical features in the text include:
• learning outcomes identified at the beginning of each chapter;
• fewer, and shorter, “high-impact” case studies of organizational change and other diagnostic and self-assessment exercises for classroom use;
• movie recommendations, identifying clips that illustrate theoretical and practical
dimensions of organizational change management;
• a short “roundup …
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