Perspectives on Change: What Academics, Consultants and Managers Really Think About Change, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Perspectives on Change

What Academics, Consultants and Managers Really Think About Change, 1st Edition

Edited by Bernard Burnes, Julian Randall


286 pages | 27 B/W Illus.

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Paperback: 9781138339965
pub: 2018-08-06
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Despite the plethora of books on change, there appears is a notable gap in the field; rarely is the authentic and candid voice of change practitioners heard. Seldom are those most closely involved in the management of change given (or seek) the opportunity to write about their personal experiences and reflexiveness. Nor is this just a case of practicing managers not being given a voice, or feeling that they cannot be frank and open about what they do. How often do academics candidly state what they actually do when they are faced with managing change in their own institutions or when they are called on in a consultancy capacity? Similarly, it is rare for full-time consultants to be candid about what it is they actually do: instead they tend to have a well-honed sales pitch which lays out a logical change process directed at helping the client to achieve success. Yet, when academics, consultants and practicing managers are prepared to speak candidly about what they really do, a richer, messier but more illuminating picture of change emerges.

The aim of Perspectives on Change is to move beyond the ‘do as I say’ approach of most change books and to encourage academics, consultants and managers to say candidly what it is they really do and what they really think about change and how it should be managed. The Editors of this book, Burnes and Randall, have over 60 years of experience between them of studying and teaching change management, acting as consultants and actually managing change projects. They are, therefore, well aware of the differences and contradictions between what academics, consultants and managers say about change in public and what they say in private and do in practice.

Perspectives on Change will offer students and practitioners of change a unique opportunity to understand change in practice. In addition, it will also contribute to the Rigour-Relevance debate by giving a different and perhaps more realistic perspective on the nature of the gap between theory and practice.


"This book demonstrates that organizational change is not as difficult as some academics make it sound; not as easy as some consultants suggest, and more painful than most practitioners expect."Stewart Clegg, University of Technology Sydney

"This is the most insightful book on organizational change I have read. The concept is brilliant – getting leading academics, consultants and practitioners to "tell it like it is." Informative, thoughtful and challenging, it is simply a great read."John Hassard, Manchester Business School

Table of Contents

Part 1: An Academic Debate and Practice 1. I Couldn’t Disagree More: Eight Things About Organizational Change That We Know For Sure, But Which Are Probably Wrong Dave Buchanan 2. Fostering Awareness of Fractal Patterns in Organizations David Boje and Tonya Henderson 3. Reflections on Change Robert MacIntosh and Nic Beech 4. Change Bites: Stories from the Field Patrick Dawson 5. Change in Practice: Surprise and Sense Making Stephen Procter and Julian Randall 6. The Elegant Observer: Engaged Ethnography in a Factory that Time Forgot Richard J. Badham Part 2: Consultancy Cares 7. From Consultancy Technique to Methodology to Scholarly Practice Jean Neumann 8. Change Into Practice: Communicating Change Phil Jackson 9. Dilemmas, Doubts and Decisions: Change Management – A Personal Journey Elaine Mottram 10. Embedding a Talent Management Strategy in the Middle East: Cultural and Consultant Obstacles and Levers Norrie Silvestro 11. Change Practice: What Works? Tricia Boyle Part 3: Managers as Consultants 12. The Inevitability of Change Dave Ennis 13. Making Change Work in a Large Public Sector Organisation Stephen Banyard 14. Developing a Culture: The Balance Between Change and Consistency Sarah Smith 15. "Is OD Just a Big Bag of Interventions?" Dave Sherrit

About the Editors

Bernard Burnes is Professor of Organisational Change at the Stirling Management School.

Julian Randall is Senior Lecturer at the University of Aberdeen Business School.

About the Series

Routledge Studies in Organizational Change & Development

It is often stated that some 70% of all change projects fail. Though this figure can be disputed, it is nevertheless clear that managing change is one of the most difficult tasks facing organizations today. In response to this, writers offer a wide range of theories and advice designed to aid managers and scholars in understanding and managing change, but which seem merely to overwhelm them with a profusion of competing and conflicting advice and approaches. In many respects, change is a field which epitomises the ‘rigor-relevance’ debate. We have many approaches to change which are built on sound research and robust theories, but which appear to lack relevance for managers. We also have a vast array of nostrums, practices and tools which managers use, but which appear to lack methodological or theoretical foundations.

The aim of this series is to cut through the confusion surrounding the study and practice of change by providing comprehensive and in-depth studies of existing and emerging approaches to change. The rationale for the series is that we cannot understand organizational change sufficiently nor implement it effectively unless we can evaluate the various approaches in terms of the evidence which underpins them, what they seek to achieve and how and where they can be applied. In particular, the series seeks to address, but is not limited to, the following questions:

  • What are the emerging themes in the field of organizational change?
  • Which theories and approaches to change have stood the test of time?
  • What are the key debates within the field?
  • How has the field been influenced by and incorporated newer approaches to organizational life, such as postmodernism, social constructionism, critical realism, and complexity theories?
  • What is the current status of OD (organization development)?
  • To what extent have countries in Asia, Africa, the Middle East and South America developed their own distinct approaches to change?
  • How are developments such as social media and virtual organizations affecting the way organizations perceive and carry out change?
  • Do successful organizations adopt different approaches to change than unsuccessful ones, or do they use the same approaches but more effectively?

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