The process of organisational change

The roles of people in the organisation cannot be overlooked especially when the organisation is considering a total re-design of it structures. Discuss to what extent individuals are regarded as passive or active participants in the process of organisational change. Organisational design refers to the way managers structure their organisation to reach the organisation’s goal (Joseph E. Champoux, Organisational Behaviour). An organisation’s design has two basic goals. It must get information to the right place for effective decision making, and it must help coordinate the interdependent parts of the organisation

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Restructuring involves reducing the size of the firm in terms of number of employees, number of divisions or units, and number of hierarchical levels in the firm’s organisational structure. This reduction in size is intended to improve both efficiency and effectiveness. Restructuring is concerned primarily with shareholder well-being than employee well-being. In contrast, re-engineering is concerned more with employee and customer well-being than shareholder well-being. Re-engineering involves reconfiguring or redesigning work, jobs, and processes for the purpose of improving cost, quality, service, and speed.

Factors to Redesign: CHANGING STRUCTURE An organisation’s structure is defined in terms of its degree of complexity, formalisation and centralisation. Change agents can alter one or more of these structural components. For instance, departmental responsibilities can be combined, vertical layers removed and spans of control widened to make the organisation flatter and less bureaucratic. More rules and procedures can be implemented to increase standardisation. Decentralisation can be initiated to speed up the decision-making process.

Change agents can also introduce major modifications in the actual structural design. This might include a shift from a simple structure to a divisional structure or the creation of a matrix design. Change agents might consider redesigning jobs or schedules. Job descriptions can be redefined, jobs enriched or flexible work hours introduced. Still another option is to modify the organisation’s compensation system. Motivation could be increased, for example, by introducing performance bonuses. CHANGING TECHNOLOGY

Most of the early studies in management and organisational behaviour dealt with efforts aimed at technological change. At the turn of the 20th century, for example, scientific management sought to implement changes based on time-and-motion studies that would increase production efficiency. Major technological changes usually involve automation, computerisation, or the introduction of new equipment, tools or methods. Automation is a technological change that replaces people with machines. It began in the Industrial Revolution and continues as a change option today.

Examples of automation are the introduction of automatic mail sorters by Australia Post and robots on car assembly lines. Probably the most visible technological chance has been expanding computerisation. Many organisations now have sophisticated management information system. Large supermarkets have converted their cash registers into input terminals and linked them to computers to provide instant inventory data. The workplace of today is dramatically different from its counterpart of 20 years ago because of computerisation.

This is typified by desktop microcomputers, which can run hundreds of business software packages, and network systems that allow these computers to communicate with one another. The Internet is also beginning to rapidly change the operations of many businesses. Competitive factors or innovations within an industry often require change agents to introduce new equipment, tools or operating methods. For example, many aluminium businesses have significantly modernised their plant in recent years to compete more effectively.

More efficient handling equipments have been installed to reduce the cost of manufacturing a tonne of aluminium. As mentioned in Organizational longevity and technological change (by Terence C. Krell), technological change transforms the nature of marketplace. The rapid technological change creates a less labour intensive work environment through automation. As such, it resulted in a change in the organizational structure. TECHNICAL PROCESS The technical process converts an organization’s inputs (material, human, monetary) into its outputs.

The process may be mechanical as in manufacturing organizations, or it can be a service to clients as in banks, hospitals, or insurance companies. The process also can be largely mental as in organizations that solve problems or create new ideas, products, and services. Research and development organizations, advertising agencies, and software development companies are examples of the latter. The design of the technical process can predetermine much of the behaviour of the people who work in the process.

Technical processes vary in work pace, worker control, complexity, degree of routine, predictability, and degree of interdependence within the process, or it can involve thinking and analytical activities. The technical process decides both what is done and the pace, which it is done. Organisational Structure can be seen to influence: Organisation capability to cope with uncertainty Fear for the unknown often arises from changes. Changes will replace ambiguity and uncertainty for the known. Employees in organisation dislike for uncertainty.

In addition, groups of people with such fears often find comfort in sharing their fears with each other, thus making the change process more difficult as now it has become a “group” fear”. Employees who participate in implementing change are more likely to be supportive and reduce fear for the unknown and lead to commitment. Employees are much more likely to support a new set of ideas which they have had a key role in shaping. When a senior manager approaches the group or organization from the members’ perspective, he or she will be able to design interventions that don’t immediately trigger defence mechanisms.