Dissertation Literature Review - Power, Change Management, and the Business Process Reengineering
Power, Change Management, and the Business
This review discusses theory and practice of Business Process Re-engineering (BPR), recognising the critical limitations associated with a lack of attention to change processes and, within this, the importance of organisational power and political processes. The author alludes in this review to the inherently 'political' nature of BPR, in so far as it privileges one set of processes over others.
There are three main themes that have been identified and which the author considers relevant to this dissertation: Theory and Practice of Business Process Engineering; Management of Change; and Power and Political processes in organisations. These are reviewed in more detail below.
Hammer and Champy’s "Reengineering the Corporation" is widely perceived as the key book in the business process re-engineering (BPR) field. It encourages organisations to take a fresh look at inefficient and outdated processes, and to focus on dramatic improvements in cost, quality, service, and speed. It is considered a powerful tool for change. BPR is not a process of trying to make marginal improvements; it is a revolutionary process that ignores how work is now done and starts over, from scratch. It challenges all the old organizational structures, work flows, job descriptions, management procedures, controls, and organizational values and culture. Moreover, it discards those that make businesses underperforms and replaces them with more effective and efficient processes. Simply put, BPR is a re-invention of business processes rather than an improvement or enhancement.
Hammer set seven principles of BPR: (1) Organize Around Processes and Outcomes, Not Tasks and Departments; (2) Have Output Users Perform the Process; (3) Have Those Who Produce Information Process It; (4) Centralize and Disperse Data; (5) Integrate Parallel Activities; (6) Empower Workers and Use Built-in Controls; and (7) Capture Data Once, At its Source (Romney, 1994).
According to Hammer and Champy, re-engineering must focus on the fundamental rethinking and radical redesign of key business processes. Dramatic improvements in cost, quality, service, and speed are the aim, and organisations must make key processes as lean and profitable as possible, discarding peripheral processes and people if necessary. Therefore, accordingly, re-engineering should go far beyond altering and refining processes: the aim is ‘to reverse the Industrial Revolution’. Organisations should start with a blank piece of paper and map out processes to identify how their business should operate. They should then attempt to translate the paper into concrete reality. Re-engineering puts a premium on the skills and potential of the people at the centre of the organisation, and should also address three key areas of management—managerial roles, styles and systems. What follow are five main areas of contribution and lessons learnt from this reference.
Focus on improving core processes. In the context of a fiercely competitive environment and the ability of IT to transform business processes, Hammer & Champy encourage organisations to take a fresh look at inefficient and outdated processes. Re-engineering, according to the authors, is the fundamental rethinking and radical redesign of business processes. Its aim is to achieve dramatic improvements in critical measures of performance such as cost, quality, service and speed.
Create a lean organisation. The authors argue that organisations need to identify their key processes and make them as lean and profitable as possible. In some cases, peripheral processes and people need to be discarded.
Achieve a complete corporate revolution. Simple business process re-engineering is not enough, say the authors. True re-engineering is a recipe for a corporate revolution, and should go far beyond altering and refining processes – “the past is history; the future is there to be coerced into the optimum shape”. The authors believe that re-engineering is concerned with rejecting conventional wisdom and received assumptions about the past. However, this can mean ignoring the experience of the past. Companies are discouraged from trying to understand why they have been successful and building on that.
Transform the future. The authors suggest that organisations should start with a blank piece of paper. They should map out their processes to identify how their business should operate, and then attempt to translate the paper into concrete reality. The authors believe that companies tend not to cast the re-engineering net widely; they find processes that can be re-engineered quickly and stop at that point. They lack a vision for the future and the revolutionary approach to take re-engineering forward.
Re-engineer management as well. Part of the problem they believe, is that managers fail to impose change on themselves—they concentrate on tearing down processes, but they leave their own jobs and management styles intact. However, the old ways of management could eventually undermine the very structure of their rebuilt enterprise. The re-engineering process should therefore address three key areas of management—managerial roles, styles, and systems.
Re-engineering should be built on trust, respect, and people. The authors believe that re-engineering actually puts a value on the people at the centre of the organisation. Once peripheral activities have been cut away, the new environment puts a value on skills of the people who are left. Re-engineering is seen by some as an old concept with a new label. Frederick W. Taylor’s "Scientific Management" advocated similar change, but at an individual rather than an organisational level. Gary Hamel pointed out that re-engineering followed a line from scientific management, industrial engineering, and business process improvement.
The mechanistic theme has been a key focal point for critics such as Keith Grint (Grint1995, Grint & Wilcocks 1995) who have made the point that re-engineering owes more to visions of the corporation as a machine, rather than a human system and has likened BPR to “Taylorism Revisited”. Christopher Lorenz of the ‘Financial Times’ believed that the authors failed to state whether organisations should undertake behavioural and cultural changes in parallel with re-engineering.
Other European academics have been especially critical, claiming that BPR is not a novel approach (Grint, 1994; Jones, 1994; 1995), that it grossly neglects the human dimensions of organizations (Jones, 1995; Wilmot, 1994; 1995; Wilmot and Wray-Bliss, 1996), and that the emancipatory rhetoric of BPR thinly masks a political agenda of managerial control (Grint et al., 1996; Jones 1995; Willcocks and Smith, 1995). Jones (1995) claims that BPR is beset by contradictions that lie at the heart of the concept itself” (p. 43).
A number of benefits have been attributed to BPR (Davenport and Beers 1995). These include cost reductions (Case, 1992); increases in productivity (Smith and McKeen, 1992); a higher quality of goods and services 'offered (Barton 1993); and a simplified organizational structure (Stanton, Hammer, and Power 1993). However, in order to gain these advantages, a specific set of conditions must be met: (1) the BPR project must have the visible commitment and full support of top management (Champy, 1995; Hammer and Champy, 1993; McKeen and Smith, 1992); (2) a multidisciplinary and multifunctional steering committee must be formed and assigned to the project (Bruss and Roos 1993; Schnitt 1993); (3) an explicit methodology must be rigorously followed (Kaplan and Murdock, 1991); and (4) enterprises must comply with the fundamental principles of BPR if they are to reap its potential benefits (Kettinger and Grover, 1995).
Hammer and Champy provide reasons that may result to BPR failures: trying to fix a process instead of changing it; not focusing on business processes; ignoring everything except process redesign; neglecting people's values and beliefs; be willing to settle for minor results; quitting too early; placing prior constraints on the definition of the problem and the scope for re-engineering effort; allowing existing corporate cultures and management attitudes to prevent Reengineering from getting started; trying to make Reengineering happen from the bottom up; and assigning someone who doesn't understand Reengineering to lead the effort.
Moreover, the authors believe that skimping on the resources to Reengineer and burying Reengineering in the middle of the corporate agenda contribute for BPR failures. They also note the dissipation of energy across a great many Reengineering projects, the attempt to Reengineer when the CEO is two years from retirement, and the failure to distinguish Reengineering from other business improvement programs.
The above literature shows general limitations in that there is a lack of attention here to change management processes and in particular the management of change within organisations. Also distinctly absent from this literature is any discussion from the BPR literature on the power and political processes prevalent within and around any change initiative. According to McCabe and Knights (2000), in their conclusion in their study of BPR in a medium-sized bank: “BPR’s form and content, its process of introduction will be constituted and reconstituted by organizational power relations that are both hierarchical and functional. The theory of BPR then, is 'such stuff as dreams are made on', not least because it is constructed as a technology that ignores the economic and political conditions of its own possible applications” (p. 84).
The important role of power and politics in BPR is discussed by Kelemen, Forrester and Hassard (2000). In a study of TQM and BPR, the authors use new empirical case study data to spotlight how a failure to engage internal stakeholders on the benefits of change resulted in a reconfiguration of change outcomes and a heightening of political game playing. What is interesting about this critical study is the importance given to power and political process as a determinant of change, as well as to the centrality of organizational narratives in shaping change outcomes. These narratives remain locked away by the power and politics of hierarchy and function.
One can say that BPR is inherently political in nature, in so far that it privileges one set of processes (business processes) over another (functional), and which therefore has distinct social implications in practice. These themes are discussed in more detail below.
As far as change processes and the management of change goes, there are many thinkers, models and approaches in this particular area. The author has identified what he considers are the two main models of change management relevant to this particular case – those of Kurt Lewin and of John Kotter who is a relatively more recent proponent of a more structured step-by-step approach. Other proponents of change management approaches are included with a brief review. This is not to be interpreted as regarding these as less important, but merely that the author wishes two show two opposite ends of the change management ‘spectrum’ and considers the best way to do this is to discuss Lewin’s work and Kotter’s work in slightly more detail. These two frameworks are used in the analysis of the project’s data.
Literature, which emphasises achieving organisational efficiency, bases its assumptions on the work of social psychologist Kurt Lewin (1951). Lewin developed a three‑stage model of planned change, which explained how to initiate, manage, and stabilise the change process. The three stages are unfreezing, changing, and refreezing. In this model, it is assumed that the change process involves learning something new, as well as discontinuing current attitudes, behaviours, or organisational practices; change will not occur unless there is motivation to change. This is often the most difficult part of the change process; and people are the hub of all organisational changes. Any change, whether in terms of structure, group process, reward systems, or job design, requires individuals to change. Moreover, Lewin’s model assumes that resistance to change is found even when the goals of change are highly desirable, and effective change requires reinforcing new behaviours, attitudes, and practices.
The focus of the Unfreezing stage is to create the motivation to change. In so doing, individuals are encouraged to replace old behaviours and attitudes with those desired by management. Managers can begin the unfreezing process by disconfirming the usefulness or appropriateness of employees' present behaviours or attitudes. Because change involves learning, the Changing or Moving stage entails providing employees with new information, new behavioural models, or new ways of looking at things. The purpose is to help employees learn new concepts or points of view. Role models, mentors, experts, benchmarking the company against world‑class organisations, and training are useful mechanisms to facilitate change
Change is stabilised during Refreezing by helping employees integrate the changed behaviour or attitude into their normal way of doing things. This is accomplished by first giving employees the chance to exhibit the new behaviours or attitudes. Once exhibited, positive reinforcement is used to reinforce the desired. Additional coaching and modelling also are used at this point to reinforce the stability of the change. This model is encapsulated in the Lewin’s diagnostic technique entitled Force field analysis. This has been applied to ways of looking at the variables involved in determining whether organisational change will occur. It is based on the concept of ‘forces’, which refers to the perceptions of people in the organisation about a particular factor and its influence.
Driving forces are those forces affecting a situation and which are attempting to push it in a particular direction. These forces tend to initiate change or keep it going. Restraining forces are forces acting to restrain or decrease the driving forces. A state of equilibrium is reached when the sum of the driving forces equals the sum of the restraining forces
Lewin formulated three fundamental assertions about force field change: (1) increasing the driving forces results in an increase in the resisting forces (the current equilibrium does not change but is maintained under increased tension); (2) reducing resisting forces is preferable because it allows movement towards the desired state, without increasing tension; and (3) group norms are an important force in resisting and shaping organisational change. Once change priorities have been agreed, a force field analysis can be used to identify actions that would enhance their successful implementation. Followed to a logical conclusion, Lewin’s model predicts that an intervention that strengthens the driving forces or weakens the restraining forces will result in the desired change.
Lewin’s work is widely cited throughout change management literature. Empirical research supports Lewin’s assertions that working to reduce the resisting forces is more effective than efforts to increase the driving ones (Zand, 1995).
A major criticism of Lewin’s work is on the assumption of the model, which is based on an organisation’s operations under stable conditions and that it can move from one stable state to another in a pre-planned manner. This contrasts with the turbulent and chaotic world in which we live in giving rise to unstable conditions. Hence, this model of change is not considered applicable to situations that require rapid and radical transformational change (Dunphy and Stace, 1993).
Other criticisms exist of the Lewinian or incrementalist theory of organisational change. Firstly, the refreezing stage has been suggested to be unhelpful because it solidifies what should be a dynamic process (Weisbord, 1988) – this has led to modified linear models of change which substitute a final stage of “operation of new work practices and procedures” instead of “refreezing” (Dawson, 1994). Secondly, the idea of sequential development runs counter to the more dominant contingency-based paradigm in management theory (Dawson, 1994) which argues that there is no overall plot which guides change, but that change is more a matter of fit between internal structural and external environmental pressures. Lastly, it has been argued that change must be revolutionary to be effective and long lasting (Peters, 1987; Waterman, 1988).
Lewin’s forcefield model and the subsequent work which has built on its foundations has much to teach practicing managers. However, it does little to consider several issues central to the process of managing change. By contrast, the field of organizational development tends to focus on process issues and provides prescriptions for action. Pettigrew (1985) proposes that change should not be considered only in terms of the processes, but should also consider the historical, cultural, and political features of the organization. Pettigrew and Whipp (1991) took this proposal and developed a model of strategic change that involves: “...continuous interplay between the ideas about the context of change, the process of change, and the content of change, together with skill in regulating the relations between the three. Formulating the content of strategic change crucially entails managing its context and process.”
The authors define context as the “why and when” of change, differentiating the inner and outer context. Outer context refers to facts such as prevailing economic circumstances, and social and political environments whereas inner context is concerned with internal influences such as resources, capabilities, structure, culture, and politics. Content is referred to as the “what” of change and is concerned with the areas of transformation. Finally, process is described as the “how” of change and refers to actions and interactions of the various stakeholders as they negotiate proposals for change. The model was initially developed in the context of managing strategic change in organizations. However, it is also useful for the implementation of smaller scale or more mundane change initiatives. It reminds those who seek to affect change that it is critically important to consider the complexities of organizational life, and to have regard for characteristics of the internal and external environment.
A later model takes Lewin’s theory of change. This model by Lippet et al (1958) focuses slightly more on relationships. It includes essential stages such as developing a need for change, establishing change relationships, work around change (equivalent to Lewin’s Moving stage), stabilising change (freezing), and achievement of terminal relationships. Following the Lippet et al. (1958) model, Tichy’s and Devanna’s (1990) model focuses on the revitalisation of an organisation with the following major steps: recognising the need for revitalisation, creating a new Vision, mobilising commitment, transitions, and institutionalising change.
Another typical example of those models that follow a specific step-by-step process for launching and following through on change initiatives is John Kotter’s Model of Change Management is a. It involves the following eight steps explained below:
Establish a sense of urgency to beat back complacency: Examine the existing situation, and identify and discuss the crises, potential crises or major opportunities. Kotter warns that people may initially state their support of the change, but many do not feel the urgency, so do nothing. In summary, having established a need for change, failure to communicate a sense of urgency is the biggest mistake made by leaders. In short, complacency is the kiss of death in the change process.
Creating the Guiding Coalition: Put together a team with enough power to lead the change and get the group to work together. Because change is so difficult to accomplish, a powerful force is required to sustain the process - no one individual, whatever his or her power, can do it alone. Four key characteristics are needed on the team: position power; expertise so that all relevant points of view are represented; credibility within the organization; and leadership skills. Kotter found that in successful transformations, the leader pulls together five, fifteen or fifty people with a commitment to improved performance. This group won't include all senior personnel, because some will resist any change in the status quo. Kotter warns that change efforts lacking a guiding coalition can make progress for a while, but they won't last.
Developing a Vision and Strategy: Create a vision to direct the change effort and strategies for achieving that vision. The vision clarifies the general direction for change; motivates people to take action in the right direction; and helps to co-ordinate the actions of hundreds or thousands of different people in a remarkably fast and efficient way. The vision must be imaginable to everyone, desirable, feasible, focused, flexible so it can be adjusted as conditions change, and communicable - something that can be explained, in a clear and compelling way. Kotter notes that plans and programs are often substituted for the genuine vision needed to inspire widespread change.
Communicating the Change Vision: Use every vehicle possible to constantly communicate the new vision and strategies, and have the guiding coalition be the role models for the behaviour expected of employees. Kotter highlights seven key elements in an effective communication of vision: simplicity; metaphor, analogy and example; multiple forums; repetition; leadership by example; explanation of seeming inconsistencies; and give-and-take.
Empowering Employees for Broad-based Action: Remove obstacles, identify and eliminate systems and structures that undermine the change vision. Encourage risk-taking and non-traditional ideas, activities, and actions. The main barriers are procedures that make it difficult to act; bosses who discourage action aimed at implementing the new vision; a lack of needed skills; and outdated finance and other information systems that make it difficult to act. Thus, effective leaders enable changes in policies or systems that don't align with the change vision and Kotter notes that inflexible administrators are among the greatest obstacles to change.
Generating Short-Term Wins: Plan for visible improvement in performance, or wins; create those wins; and then visibly recognise and reward people who made those wins possible. Because real change takes many years, the process is likely to lose momentum without short-term goals to meet and celebrate.
Consolidating Gains and Producing More Change: Increased credibility from those wins has to be used to change all systems, structures and policies that don't fit together and don't fit the transformation vision. People who can implement the change vision must be hired, promoted and developed, and the process of change must be re-invigorated with new projects, themes and change agents. In other words, there's a danger in declaring victory too soon.
Anchor New Approaches in the Culture: Create better performance through client- and productivity-oriented behaviour, more and better leadership, and more effective management; articulate the connections between new behaviours and organisational success; and put in place the means to ensure leadership development and succession. Kotter explains that "Until new behaviours are rooted in social norms and shared values, they're always subject to degradation as soon as the pressures associated with change are removed."
The above models and theories are used in this project. The author attempts to use Kotter’s model to establish a sense of urgency and to form a powerful guiding coalition, and in creating and communicating a vision. The author believes that this model is also helpful in knowing how the Planning manager and other employees are empowered to act on the vision. Moreover, the project aims to plan for and create short term wins and to institutionalise new approaches. Similarly, Lewin’s theory is utilised because this project aims to examine how BPR use the Unfreezing – Change – Refreezing model. It tries to examine how BPR creates change in an organisation by increasing the drivers for change and reducing the restraining forces for change.
Tichy’s and Devana’s (1990) model is attempted to apply in this project for the author to recognise the need of revitalisation and creation of a new vision, as well as mobilising commitment. This work also attempted to find if this model is applicable in institutionalising change. Likewise the model by Lippet et al (1958) is used in establishing change relationships.
The discussion on the nature of BPR and the applicability of various models and theories in relation to managing change leads the author to take a critical look on power and politics in organisations. It is important to consider power and politics because it is crucial to the success as well as the failure of an organisation. This project finds it necessary to link power with change in order to understand how BPR, which is political in nature, address such change.
Power is considered to be a very complex concept to grasp, surrounded by controversy around its definition (Lukes 1974). The reason for this is possibly because of the attempts to limit what is an inherently general concept (Allison 1974). Power is also viewed as a primitive term and is very vague in its nature. (Bacharach and Lawler1980). Power is often perceived as being entwined with resistance, whether overt or covert, such as Pfeffer (1981) who defines power as where overt resistance has to be overcome (Pfeffer 1981). Politics is defined as use of power (Hickson1986).
The discussion of dimensions of power enables this project to understand the actions of BPR in managing change. Lukes’ work (1974) focuses on societal and class mechanisms that perpetuate the status quo and defines power as having four dimensions. This work has been extended by Hardy (1994). It is from this reference that the author discusses the concept of power and it’s applicability to this case. The following briefly describe the four dimensions of power.
Decision-Making Power. The first dimension of power assumes that: power is only exercised in key decisions where conflict is observable, and individual grievances are acted upon by participation to influence key decisions. Here, the decision-making arena is considered to be open and therefore any absence of participation is perceived as a sign of consensus (Bacharach & Baratz 1963, Lukes 1974, Parry and Morriss 1975).
Non-Decision Making Power. This dimension concerns itself with how full and equal participation is constrained. Non-participation is assumed to be due to suppression of options and alternatives that reflect the needs of the non-participants (Schattscneider 1960). This process, whereby issues are excluded from decision-making, is thought to happen by confining the agenda to safe questions (Bacharach and Baratz 1962, 1963, 1970). These mechanisms are termed non-decision making because they allow powerful actors to determine outcomes from behind the scenes. This highlights that power is not exercised solely in the taking of key decisions and that the visible decision makers are not necessary the most powerful.
Symbolic Power. Bacharach and Baratz assumed above that some form of conflict was necessary to stimulate non-decision making power. They focused on “issues” about which decisions have to be made. Power in this view stands close to action, using power to ensure compliance (Ranson et al 1980). However, they ignored the possibility that power might be used to ensure conflict does not arise or opposition does not arise (Parry and Morriss 1975). Power is employed to shape peoples perceptions, cognitions and preferences so that they accept their role, either because there is no alternative to it or they view it as unchangeable (Lukes 1974). Also consider political quiescence: why grievances do not exist, why demands are not made, why conflict does not arise – inaction may also be the result of power (Lukes 1974).
This third dimension, then, concerns the use of power to pre-empt conflict, whereas the first two dimensions concern power exercised in the face of competition, conflict or opposition. Power is considered most effective when issues do not arise at all, when it is unnecessary (Ranson et al 1980). The ability to shape values, preferences, cognitions, and perceptions means that grievances and issues do not arise or are never transformed into demands and challenges. The powerful don’t need to make their power visible because their position is rarely challenged (Fox 1975). Here, opposition depends on the ability to resist (objective power) and subjective power is the awareness of workers that they’re in a disadvantaged position which concerns the will to resist (Hyman and Fryer 1975).
In this dimension there is a visible strategy for specific groups and individuals to legitimate or challenge political outcomes (e.g. Clegg 1975. Gaventa 1980, Hardy 1985). There are also attempts by interest groups to legitimise their demands and de-legitimise the demands of others by managing meaning (Pettigrew 1979), by creating perceptions of outcomes as beneficial, acceptable or inevitable. Subordinate actors use this third dimension of power to question status quo and raise political consciousness.
The mechanisms that help create legitimacy revolve around symbols, language, rituals and myths. The meaning of symbols is in society and not the symbol (Edelman 1964), Symbols have a multiplicity of meanings (Abner Cohen 1975 and language is an important device in both restricting opposition and rallying resistance. Myths are considered to be a narrative of events that explore the issues of origin and transformation (Abner Cohen 1975, Pettigrew 1977/79). Myths can be used to legitimise existing power positions by emphasising importance of the past and tradition (Abner Cohen 1975, Anthony Cohen 1975, Pettigrew 1977, Gaventa 1980).
Culture embodies potential unobtrusive or low profile/discreet control mechanisms. Behaviour is guided by shared norms and values, instead of traditional formalised bureaucratic controls, such as the Japanese type “Z” culture (Ouichi 1982). Indirect cultural mechanisms are a direct alternative to bureaucratic structure (Jaeger 1983). There is an assumption here that culture is a power mechanism. For example, entrepreneurs create culture to generate order, purpose and commitment among organisation members, which in turn facilitate achievement of their goals (Pettigrew 1977/79).
Structure is perceived as a mechanism of unobtrusive control (Perrow 1970) and is determined by environmental constraints according to (burns and Stalker 1961, Emery and Trist 1965, Lawrence and Lorsch 1967). Alternatively, structure is considered to be determined by technology (Woodward 1965), or by size (Pugh et al 1969). The nature of structure though is to some extent a matter of choice (Child 1972), as dominant members may choose a structure that protects and furthers their power positions (Child 1972). Structures embody assumptions, values, practices to ensure behaviours and actions carried out without question (Ranson et al 1980). Structure and culture are used by senior members to acquire legitimacy in the eyes of individuals outside the organisation (Dowling and Pfeffer 1975, Pfeffer and Salancik 1978) and by reflecting demands of the institutional environment (Mayor and Rowan 1977-8). Conflict can be averted also through co-option of potential opponents (Selznick 1949) or through manipulating norms and managing commitment (Kanter 1972). Credibility is utilised to create legitimacy where the right to influence others is automatically accepted by them (French and Raven 1968).
In summary, symbolic power concerns the ability to secure preferred outcomes by preventing conflict and represents an unobtrusive use of power (Clegg 1975) as well as the creation of legitimacy and justification for actions and outcomes, so that they are never questioned (Pfeffer 1981).
The Power of the System. Another aspect of power works to produce certain advantages and disadvantages without being consciously mobilised. In the previous three dimensions, power is consciously mobilised by actors in the form of political strategies to achieve certain ends. In this fourth dimension, groups are subject to power even though it is not actively used against them and therefore there are limits to their power.
The power of the system refers to the unconscious acceptance of values, traditions, cultures and structures. This type of power serves to protect interests of particular groups (Salaman 1979). The nature of the organisation embodies a source of power, which works to their advantage (Perrow 1970) and is therefore to the benefit of dominant groups, not necessarily responsible for establishing systems from which they benefit (Parry and Morriss 1975). This dimension acknowledges that some groups are disadvantaged as a result of systems, which penalise them, without attributing cause to conscious use of power by specific groups of individuals.
Power is also considered to have many unintentional affects and is not as predictable or deterministic as others have suggested (Foucault). Power, complexity, invisibility and pervasiveness mean that the actual outcome may be far from the actor’s original intentions (Foucault), for example, as in the case of the relaxation of management control and use of bonus pay schemes used to increase productivity led to a game of ‘making out’ (Burawoy 1979). Foucault emphasises the inseparability of power and knowledge (Knights and Morgan 1991).
In terms of the Managing Director’s desire for forceful change, this project worked on power as defined by Foucault (1980). He suggests that the concept of political action relevant under a disciplinary understanding of power and domination is resistance. Foucault insists that despite the pervasive, normalizing nature of contemporary power, there already exists a possibility for resistance wherever power is exercised. The effect of normalization is never quite complete, and thus, there are no relations of power without resistances; the latter are all the more real and effective because they are formed right at the point where relations of power are exercised; resistance to power does not have to come from elsewhere to be real, nor is it inexorably frustrated through being the compatriot of power. It exists all the more by being in the same place as power.
One difficulty in applying Foucault to organisations involves the level of analysis at which power operates. This complicates discussions of various forms of power, especially what Foucault terms sovereign power (power vested in a person or an identifiable group, which is based on sanctions and is negative) and disciplinary power (diffuse power, which constitutes identities and is positive). Top managers clearly hold sovereign power. Disciplinary power, especially its constitutive aspect, is taken advantage of by managers.
The starting point for the literature review above has been the theory and practice or Business Process Re-engineering (BPR), but with a recognition of the critical limitations associated with a lack of attention to change processes and, within this, the importance of organisational power and political processes. The author has also alluded to the inherently 'political' nature of BPR, in so far as it privileges one set of processes (i.e. business) over others (e.g. functional).
The review of the Management of Change literature focuses on the traditional and latter-day protagonists as well as other models that lie in between this spectrum. These models, particularly that of Lewin and Kotter, were tested for their relevance and applicability to the change management using BPR. This is then followed by issues of power and politics, where the review of relevant ideas on power then address numerous areas, but highlights such areas as power-dependency relations (Pfeffer), structural effects (Lukes) and even surveillance issues (Foucault).
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