Understanding both leadership and change have been recurrent and popular themes within the business, management and organization studies literature. However, our understanding of leadership and organizational change in combination is far more limited. The Leadership of Organizational Change offers a critical review of the evolution of leadership and organizational change for the past thirty-five years, taking stock of what we know, identifying what we do not know, and establishing how the study of the leadership of change should advance.
In the late seventies and early eighties, as interest in managing and leading change was fuelled by the competitive threat of Asia in general and Japan in particular as perceived by western businesses and governments, Burns (1978) writing in his landmark book Leadership at this time, referred to an intellectual crisis:
"The crisis of leadership today is the mediocrity or irresponsibility of so many of the men and women in power, but leadership rarely rises to the full need for it. The fundamental crisis underlying mediocrity is intellectual. If we know all too much about our leaders, we know far too little about leadership."
While the study of managing change has benefitted from sustained critical scrutiny, particularly in the last decade, it is believed that this is to have been at the expense of critical scrutiny of leading change. The Leadership of Organizational Change critically reviews how the study of leading change has advanced since 1978 and the crisis of intellectual mediocrity.
List of Figures List of Appendices Acknowledgments 1. Introduction 2. Leadership and Organizational Change: A 35 Year Review 3. Understanding Organizational Change 4. Leadership Studies 5. A Critical Evaluation of Leadership and Organizational Change 6. Towards The Leadership of Organizational Change Index
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: