Evaluating Change over Time in Organizations
Organizations have changed aboutas much in the past few decades as in the preceding century
Change is a human nature characteristic and as people’s natural instincts determine them to modify their attitudes, their behaviors, their actions, and so on, the social processes implicitly suppose change. Therefore, as society changes and people tend to evolve, new needs appear. In business this might mean new market orientation, new strategies, and new approaches. In accordance, it becomes a necessity that the companies should re-think their business approaches, strategies, market orientation and other areas that require change, in order to remain the market.
Organizational Culture and Organizational Change
The culture established within a company can hinder the organizational change, standing in the way of adjusting to new working or business situations. As such, scholars state that “one key obstacle that hinders many companies is the strong presence of a product – based strategy and culture that has been reinforced over many years” (Banish & Nawaz, 2003, p. 7). Other researchers consider that within a company the culture may have to change in order to support the organizational change (Austen & Clasten, 2008).
An observation that Senior and Swailes catch from Furnham is very interesting in the context of analyzing how does culture influences the organizational change. The authors are concerned about the uncertainties related with the change and about the rhythm of change, which might not allow sufficient time for the organizations to adjust to them (2010).
Investigating how the culture of a company influences the organizational change, Rashid, Sambasivan and Rahman identify that there is a connection between the organizational culture and the way that the employees or employer perceive organizational change. Their attitudes, behaviors, tendency, or their cognitive and affective senses are influenced by the culture of the company and while the cultures of some companies embrace change, in other organizations change is not an option (2004).
Therefore, authors agree that the culture that companies adopt might stay in the way of the organizational change. But is this a wrong approach? Should companies change their business style and orientation? For answering this question the paper now looks at the 20th and 21st centuries, identifying major events, in order to analyze how they mark the changing of societies, in order to illustrate how these societal changes contribute to the organizational changes.
Events in 20th and 21st Centuries that Generate Society Transformation
Boleman and Deal sustain a claim that “Organizations have changed aboutas much in the past few decades as in the preceding century”. By a closer attention to the events that impact the 20th and 21st century, this paper evaluates if this affirmation is sustained.
The 20th century is marked by the War World I and War World II. Besides the atrocities that they leave behind, these events bring tremendous technological discoveries and innovations. The battlefield becomes a place where the combatant forces also expose their creative powers designing and developing in war machines. This is the century when Albert Einstein leaves and develops the theory of relativity and in the same time, through his innovations contributes to the creation of the atomic bomb. It is the century of the television and the rock & roll revolution. It is the century of the artistic development: impressionism, cubism and Dadaism in art, architecture and literature arise. While a nuclear war permanently gravitates around the world, the quest for oil expands throughout the world. Middle East, Africa and Asia are shuddered by conflicts and USA begins to indicate its hegemonic intentions, dividing with the Soviet Union the world in spheres of interests. Environmental concerns are arising and economic boom marks the development of the Asian “tigers” (Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand and Malaysia). Lastly, European Union is formed, installing a common economic space and the euro, the common currency, which brings the world into globalization (“A Timeline of the 20th century”).
Moving into the 21st century, the digital revolution describes this period, internet evolves more rapidly than ever, the global economy gains more significance and companies become more accustomed to the mechanisms of globalization. The beginning of the century is marked, however, by the 9/11 event, which puts United States on a direct war against the Arab terrorists. The buildings of the future are designed, environmental concerns are growing and new jobs are created to support the emerging environmental sustainability processes and the new business needs. Natural calamities such as Haiti, Japan or Turkey earth quick are related to the environmental changes. Economic and financial crisis creates new challenges and USA selects its first African American President, Barack Obama. The social media revolution is coordinated by Facebook and the technological giants either merger or fusion (Google buys Yahoo, Microsoft gets Skype), either enter in judicial processes (Apple vs. Samsung) (“A Timeline of the 20th century”).
Social Transformation and Organizational Change in 20th Century
Bolman and Deal observe how the business environment is affected by the social changes. They state that in the 19th century everybody mind their own affairs, without employing professional managers, but once the technology advances in the 20th century, new needs are felt in terms of doing business (2008). As is described above, in the short preview of the 20th century, this is the period of great technological advancements related to WWI and WWII. Drucker also investigates the social transformation that occurres in the 20th century and the scholar observes that before the World War I, societies (developed ones, which serve as model for the others) are dominated by farming, and there is even an unrecognized industry of the servants. In the same time, this is the period of the rising of the blue collars, as there are lots of people working in manufacturing industry (Druckert, 1994). During the World War I and World War II, civilians are engaged in manufacturing various pieces for the war industry (Edgerton, 2011). Towards the end of the 20th century, however, the workforce becomes more knowledge – based, as the working segment itself shifts from labor and raw materials to knowledge, changing the working style from configuration, to processes and to structures (Drucker, 1994).
Therefore, the 20th century implies several changes in the structure, the processes and the configuration of work. Moreover, until the last decades of the 20th century, it is difficult to discuss about organizations, as a system of organizing work and employment. However, the changes that intervene in the way people work in the 20th century are determined by the events that transformed the society and the necessities in terms of workforce.
Social Transformation and Organizational Change in 21th Century
As Drucker forecasts, last century, the year 2000 and what follows it, does not stop the social transformation, but on the contrary, after this year, the social transformation reaches its peak (1994).
Adjusting to the rapid developments in technology is no longer an option, is mandatory in the current competitive business world. Hardware and software, information system and social media, viral advertising and online marketing, everything needs to be properly integrated, as businesses activate on the principle of now and here. Actually, considering the global economy and interactions, this principle is more likely adjusted to now and everywhere. Therefore, companies must be prepared to act and to do businesses everywhere, with various types of partners. This is why, technology is so important in reaching potential clients or partners all over the world.
The innovations and permanent updates of the products and services represent adaptability challenges and this requires improved and more diversified skills and knowledge. This is the essence of the 21st century’s way of doing business (OECD, 2000). Nowadays, as Drucker previewes, social or professional inequalities are set by the ability to adjust the knowledge and skills to the growing requirements of the various advancement that occur within the business world.
In this context, organizations need qualified, knowledge based workforce, which must be able to trigger competitive advantage, as they are activating in a global market. Therefore, the ability of changing the structures, the configuration, the requirements and the vision of the organizations is what could enhance competitive advantage. However, as Bolman and Deal observe, what might represent the solutions for the organization yesterday’s problem, might represent an obstacle for its future (2008).
Bryan and Joyce evaluate the nowadays total representativeness of Drucker’s knowledge workers to about 25% or more from the total workforce, and the percentage is continuously increasing. These workers are employed in industries such as “financial services, health care, high tech, pharmaceuticals, and media and entertainment” (2011, p. 4).
Shift in expectations for leadership and successful teams
The 21st century is the age of permanent changes in business, as organizations are permanently exposed to change. This aspect is related to the societal needs and social transformation and the humans’ quest for evolving and for facilitating their lifestyle. At an organizational level, shifts also occur, in the definition of successful teams as well as in the way leadership acts for meeting the organizational goals.
In this permanently changing environment, organizations’ teams and leadership are permanently challenged. Successful teams, as organizations that succeed in meeting their goals, have efficient coordination, and this is based on a leadership that has the ability to forecast, to anticipate, to be intuitive and to quickly adjust to new situations (Boleman & Deal, 2008).
The organizations of the 21st century are based on bureaucracy, political and technical orientation and this influences the relationship between leaders and teams, on one side, and between team members, on another side (Boleman & Deal, 2008). In accordance with the knowledge based worker, the leadership in the 21st century also changes its expectancy in terms of meeting the organizational goals.
Nowadays leaders are expected to establish a sense of urgency, form a powerful guiding coalition, create and communicate a vision, empower and inspire others to act on the vision, plan for and create short – terms objectives and wins, consolidate improvements and generate change, institutionalize new approaches (Kotter, 2007, p. 1)
Thoughts on shared sacrifice related to organizational change
However, it is in human’s nature to resist change, as researchers identify. Nobody plans a change unless is needed. Therefore, individuals are unlikely to support organizational change. Discussing about shared sacrifice in the context of organizational change is solely to observe that this is an imposed action. Shared sacrifice for the wellbeing of the organization, usually means bad news for individuals: reorganization, restructuring, and everything in between (from changing the structures of departments, to layoffs or salary cuts) (Johnson, Manyika & Yee, 2005).
Conclusion - Analyzing Boleman and Deal’s Claim
Matching these findings against the claim of Bolman and Deal, there can be stated that this perspective is far from being true. As this paper identifies, first of all, the concept of organization does not exist in the beginning of the past century. Secondly, the changes in the society are not as often in the 20th century as they occur nowadays and this is mainly because their impact or their spreading is not as vast as it is today. The fact the world is now under the sign of globalization, generates chain changes in the society and this has direct influence upon organizations. Therefore, this research does not support Bolman and Deal’s claim, sustaining the contrary, that opposite the previous century, when isolated events generate global impact (industrialization, World War I and World War II), the 21st century is under a permanent sign of change and continuous social transformation, as a result of the advancement in technology, mass communication and international relationships, which facilitate the global spreading of change, and implicitly the organizational change, at a global level.
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