chapter  3
20 Pages

Approaches to the Management of Change

Our argument in the preceding chapter has been that organisational research has been haunted by the concerns of theory and this has obscured the problems of empirical description and data gathering. This concern with theory has been curiously unprofitable, and the falling into disuse of many theories may have as much to do with a failure of theory in general as with any particular version. It would seem that no candidate theoretical stance can make a contribution that gains general approval, and that there is little agreement even on what the purposes of theoretical work on organisations might be. As we have argued, even ‘new’ approaches (those largely predicated on the structure/agency problematic), do not offer a way out of this impasse. The great mystery, at least for those who believe in the value of theory, is how it is that at just such a time more prescriptive and less theoretical work on organisations-what is normally referred to as ‘change management’ —is, far from being ignored, more common than ever before. Change-management programmes are both seemingly universal and extraordinarily powerful, in the sense that the willingness of managers to employ consultants with the required knowledge and skills is obvious. One possible reason for this is quite simply that theorising about the organisation turns out to be significantly less interesting or valuable from a management point of view than the simple act of prescribing.