Management Scholarship and Organisational Change : Representing Burns and Stalker book cover
1st Edition

Management Scholarship and Organisational Change
Representing Burns and Stalker

ISBN 9781138698383
Published January 23, 2019 by Routledge
182 Pages

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Book Description

Change is a crucial and inescapable process for many organisations. It remains a constant challenge for managers and many change management initiatives fail. Burns and Stalker’s seminal text on managing change, The Management of Innovation, has often been used as a basis for research in mainstream management journals and has been represented as an important theory in popular and long-established management textbooks. The issues raised in that book are still being grappled with by academics and practitioners today.

Miriam Green provides a critical analysis of the mainstream construction of knowledge on change management through an examination of representations of that text. The main thesis of her book is that this literature, though valuable, does not provide a full picture. Its objectivist approach ignores the role of other factors raised in the original study. These factors include the effects of power, politics, resistance and employee influence on the outcomes of managerial change strategies and on other organisational processes, with important consequences for the understanding of change initiatives by both academics and practitioners. This is part of an ongoing debate in management studies and more widely in the social sciences about theoretical approaches and research methods.

The originality of this book lies in its in-depth comparison of an entire monograph on organisations facing technological and commercial change, with an equally in-depth analysis of the ways this work has been represented and used as a basis for teaching and research. It highlights the limitations of the exclusive use of one approach to explain the complications arising from organisational change. It challenges the scientific justification offered for that approach and supports arguments for more inclusive and sustainable scholarship, of greater relevance to academics, managers and other organisational stakeholders.

Table of Contents


Chapter 1: Introduction
1.1 Introduction, 1.2 Rationale, 1.3 Background to Contingency Theory, 1.3.1 Burns and Stalker’s Contingency Theory, 1.4 Management of change, 1.5 Critiques of mainstream scholarship, 1.6 Critiques of research methodologies, 1.7 Spur to this study, 1.8 Dialectical contradictions, 1.9 Analytical framework, 1.10 Contents of the book

Chapter 2: Meanings of texts
2.1 Introduction, 2.2 Interpretations of texts, 2.3 Interpretations of Burns and Stalker’s book, 2.4 Alternative interpretations of Burns and Stalker’s book, 2.5 Meanings of texts, 2.6 Poststructuralists on the meanings of texts, 2.7 Applications to Burns and Stalker’s text, 2.8 Conclusion

Chapter 3: Representations of texts
3.1 Introduction, 3.2 Representation, 3.3 Representations of texts, 3.4 Representations of The Management of Innovation, 3.5 Alternative approaches: management, 3.6 Critiques of contingency research, 3.7 Alternative approaches: management accounting, 3.8 Alternative approaches of The Management of Innovation, 3.9 Conclusion

Chapter 4: Textual analysis
4.1 Introduction, 4.2 Textual analysis, 4.3 Themes in The Management of Innovation, 4.4 Main thesis, 4.5 Support by other writers, 4.6 The selected textbooks, 4.7 Critical discourse analysis, 4.8 Conclusion

Chapter 5: Paradigm commensurabilities
5.1 Introduction, 5.2 Paradigms, 5.3 Paradigm similarities and differences, 5.4 Burrell and Morgan’s sociological paradigms, 5.5 The functionalist paradigm, 5.6 Burns and Stalker’s book, 5.7 The Interpretive paradigm, 5.8 Conclusion

Chapter 6: The academy
6.1 Introduction, 6.2 Explanations for mainstream representations of The Management of Innovation, 6.3 The academy, 6.4 Journals, 6.5 The Administrative Science Quarterly, 6.6 Journal rankings, 6.7 Academic networks, 6.8 Universities, 6.9 Technology and curricular developments, 6.10 Disciplinary influences, 6.11 Tropes, 6.12 Conclusion

Chapter 7: Science versus scientificity
7.1 Introduction, 7.2 Objectivist knowledge, 7.3 Subjectivist knowledge, 7.4 Scientific knowledge, 7.5 Positivism, 7.6 Implications, 7.7 Incommensurability: the natural sciences, 7.8 Incommensurability: the social sciences, 7.9 Commensurability: the social sciences, 7.10 Incommensurability: organisation/management studies, 7.11 Commensurability: organisation/management studies, 7.12 Conclusion

Chapter 8: Dialectical oppositions
8.1 Introduction, 8.2 Simons (1987), 8.3 Abernethy and Brownell (1999), 8.4 Simons’ research: implications, 8.5 Abernethy and Brownell’s research: implications, 8.6 Dissenting voices: organisation/management, 8.7 Dissenting voices: management accounting, 8.8 Chenhall and Euske (2007), 8.9 Chenhall and Euske’s research: implications, 8.10 Conclusion

Chapter 9: Conclusions
9.1 Purpose of this study, 9.2 Similarities and differences, 9.3 Findings, 9.4 Explanations, 9.5 Commensurability and incommensurability, 9.6 Contingency theory as a model and benchmark, 9.7 Significance for practice, 9.8 One interpretation, 9.9 Limitations of the book, 9.10 Scope for further research, 9.11 Conclusion


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Miriam Green was for many years a Senior Lecturer at London Metropolitan University and is currently teaching at Icon College of Technology and Management. She completed a PhD in Organisation Studies, on which this book is based, and has also written journal articles and book chapters in this field. Her current research interests include critiques of neo-liberalism and postmodernism.


"Miriam Green’s critical study of how a theory of change got changed in research on change is respectful scholarship par excellence. This book makes a humbling and compelling case for the philosophical primacy of returning to original texts." — Dr Wim Vandekerckhove, Reader in Business Ethics, University of Greenwich, Editor-in-Chief, Philosophy of Management

"This is a scrupulous, comprehensive and fair-minded account of how a complex, rich theory of change came to be misinterpreted by researchers, teachers and practitioners alike.  Numerous failed organisational  ‘change programmes’ and ‘transformation strategies’ testify to the human and material costs and the importance of the intellectual failures Miriam Green so compellingly deconstructs." — Nigel Laurie, Managing Partner, London Facilitators and former Visiting Professor of Philosophy of Management, Royal Holloway School of Management, UK

"With this book, Miriam Green has accomplished a vital as well as crucial contribution to both academic and practitioner literature in the field of the management of organisational change by representing a holistic approach and interpretation of the main work of Burns and Stalker’s The Management of Innovation. Green shows us how unilateral former representations of Burns and Stalker have been in terms of objectivist, structuralist and positivist interpretations in contrast to Burns and Stalker’s original concerns for pluralist, inclusive, and subjective approaches. In other words, Green highlights how the neglect of political, practical, individual and subjective factors facing managers has generally been neglected in scholarly readings of The Management of Innovation. With Green’s book, the human factor has been returned in representing Burns and Stalker’s vital work, changing its image to an inclusive, sustainable, and dialectical contribution to the business management literature for academia as well as for practitioners." — Dr Linne Marie Lauesen, Project Manager and Business Analyst, Vand og Affald, Denmark

"This book is a must-read for every management scholar who wants to get a profound insight in a critical and thoughtful approach to change management, innovation and construction of knowledge within management science. It is important to go deeper than objectivist and realist accounts of management science and scrutinize the origins of management in organizational processes. Indeed, this book demonstrates scholarship at the highest and finest level of research." — Jacob Dahl Rendtorff, Institut for Samfundsvidenskab og Erhverv, Department of Social Sciences and Business, Roskilde University, Roskilde, Denmark