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Organisations are constantly in the process of change. Organisational effectiveness as the prime reason for change at almost all organisations. Whether it is to become more competitive or to get a higher value for money. All organisations are in form of change.

Change management is a discipline without rigid and clearly defined boundaries. The theory and practice of change management is built upon a number of social sciences. Three schools of change management are prevalent in change management. Although each school recognises the other schools, it sees their own as the leading school that pins all others.

The history and development or change management

The field of change management is not new. Organisational theory originates from the eighteenth century, driven by the Industrial Revolution. Driven by the desire to control workers' behaviour more effectively, managers went searching for a more consistent organisation-wide approach. A desire driven by the development of machines. These machines allowed for skilled labour to be replaced by unskilled and thus cheaper labour.

The Classical approach developed itself at the end of nineteenth century. An approach characterised by the work of Frederick Taylor, Henri Fayol, and Max Weber. Assuming that there is a single best way for organisations to be structured and operated. That believes that people are only financially motivated to work, and that their job should be fully designed and executed closely.

Contrary to the classical approach the Human Relations approach evolved. Based on initial work in the First World War, it was developed and extended in the 1920s by Mayo. This developed perspective emphasised organisations as cooperative and social systems. Where people are emotional hum beings instead of mechanical-rational beings. Similarly as the Classical approach, proponents of the Human Relations approach believed their way to be the best for all organisations.

Fighting the one-size-fits-all belief the Contingency Theory sprung alive around 1960. It embraces the belief that organisations are different. As such, an organisation requires its own way of structuring and operating. Key belief is that organisations are open systems. Organisations as interconnected sub-systems

Growing alongside the rise of neoliberalism in the West, organisation started to adopt the Culture-Excellence approach. A result from managers having increasingly more problems to achieve competitive success. This became apparent in the United States, where the rise of Japanese industrial and economic threatened the performance of US industries.

The 1980s displayed a new techno-economic rationale: - A shift towards information-intensive rather than energy- or materials-intensive products - A change from dedicated mass production systems towards more flexible systems that can accommodate a wider range of products, smaller batches, and more frequent design changes. - A move towards the greater integration of processes and systems within companies and between suppliers and customers. Which permits a more rapid response to market and customer requirements

Alternative paradigms

Historically change is seen as a linear, top-down approach. The change is designed, communicated and ultimately implemented & adopted. However, intended strategies can lead to unanticipated outcomes,


Burnes, B. (2017). Managing Change (7th ed.). Pearson Education.

Managing change