Organisational Culture and Change
Professor Ming Sun
School of Energy, Geoscience, Infrastructure & Society
What is Culture?
Culture is a set of values, attitudes, beliefs,
and meanings that are shared by the members
of a group or organisation.
It is often the primary way in which one group
(organisation, team, etc.) differentiates itself
Organisational Culture Defined
Reflects the underlying assumption about the way work is
performed, what is acceptable and not acceptable, and what
behaviour and actions are encouraged and discouraged
The collection of traditions, values, beliefs, and attitudes
that constitute a pervasive context for everything we do and think
in an organisation.
McLean & Marshall
Henry Mintzberg on Culture
Culture is the soul of the organization the
beliefs and values, and how they are
manifested. I think of the structure as the
skeleton, and as the flesh and blood. And
culture is the soul that holds the thing together
and gives it life force.
Chapter 10, Nancy Langton
and Stephen P. Robbins,
Third Canadian Edition
Copyright 2007 Pearson
The pattern of shared values, beliefs, and
assumptions considered to be the appropriate
way to think and act within an organization.
Culture is shared.
Culture helps members solve problems.
Culture is taught to newcomers.
Culture strongly influences behaviour.
Culture and Behaviour
Williams & Dobson
Harrison & Handy
Culture Types according to Deal & Kennedy
Tough-guy, macho culture
police departments, construction, management consulting
Work-hard / play-hard culture
estate agents and computer companies, mass consumer
oil companies, investment banks
insurance companies, financial services, and the civil
Influencing Factors on Organisational
Size and age
New managers values
Strategy and structure
It is not the strongest species that survive, nor the most
but the ones who are most responsive to change - Charles
Internal Drivers of Organisational
The need for performance improvement
Adoption of new technology
Changes in staff
Changes to business processes
New ways of working and management
External Drivers of Organisational
Uncertain economic conditions
Globalisation and fierce competition
Demands of sustainable development
Mergers and acquisitions
Changes in customers demands
Benefits of Embracing Change An
Organisation Perspective Change provides opportunity for
It gives the opportunity to develop solid strategic planning and
It can create more efficient processes and systems.
It enables organisations to adapt and respond quicker than
It reduces the status quo mentality.
It promotes system thinking and long term vision.
It brings on innovation.
It encourages proactive approach to risk management.
It's a lot more interesting than something that is static and
stable all the time.
Benefits of Embracing Change An
Individual Perspective Change provides personal growth, through
learning new skills.
It makes people more adaptable to new situations, new
environments, and new people.
It provides opportunity for improvement in personal life.
Changes bring new beginnings and excitement to life.
Refreezing Moving Unfreezing
Lewins 3-Step Change Model
Step 1: Unfreezing
Launch change efforts to overcome the pressures of individual
resistance and group conformity Arouse dissatisfaction with the
Bring in disconfirming information
Help people unlearn conventional wisdom
Step 2: Moving
Get employees involved in the change process Establish goals
Activate and reinforce top management support
Recruit and empower change agents
Encourage participatory decision-making
Institute smaller, acceptable changes that reinforce and support
Reward and celebrate success
Maintain open, two-way communication
Step 3: Refreezing
Stabilize the change intervention by rebalancing driving and
Build success experiences.
Reward desired behaviour.
Develop structures to institutionalize the change.
Make change work.
Kotters Eight-Step Plan for
Implementing Change 1. Establish a sense of urgency
2. Build a guiding team
3. Create a new vision
4. Communicate the vision
5. Empower others to act
6. Develop short-term wins
7. Consolidate improvements
8. Reinforce changes
Source: Based on J. P. Kotter, Leading Change (Boston: Harvard
Business School Press, 1996).
1. Establish a Sense of Urgency
Examining the market and
Identifying and discussing crises,
potential crises, or major
2. Build a Guiding Team
Putting together a group with enough
power to lead the change
Getting the group to work together
like a team
3. Create a New Vision
Creating a vision to help direct the
Developing strategies for achieving
4. Communicate the Vision
Using every vehicle possible to constantly
communicate the new vision & strategies
Having the guiding coalition role model
the behavior expected of employees
5. Empower Others to Act
Getting rid of obstacles
Changing systems or structures that
undermine the change vision
Encouraging risk taking and
nontraditional ideas, activities, and
6. Develop Short-term Wins
Planning for visible improvement in
performance or wins
Creating those wins
Visibly recognizing and rewarding
people who made the wins possible
7. Consolidate Improvements
Using increased credibility to change all systems, structures,
and policies that dont fit together and dont fit the transformation
Hiring, promoting, and developing people who can implement the
Reinvigorating the process with new projects, themes, and change
8. Anchoring New Approaches in
the Culture Creating better performance through
customer and productivity oriented
behavior, more and better leadership,
and more effective management
8. Reinforce changes
Articulating the connections between new
behaviors and organizational success
Developing means to ensure leadership
development and succession
Sources of Individual Resistance
to Change Selective perception: Staffs tend to be sceptical
Established habits. Changes may require them to change their
habits. This is not easy.
Loss of freedom: People may perceive that the introduced changes
cause inconvenience or loss of freedom for themselves.
Economic loss: People are likely to resist change that is
reducing their pay and other rewards.
Loss of security: Existing ways of working give people comfort
of security. Changes will bring in new ideas and new methods.
people would rather stick to the old ways.
People may resist change simply for the fear of the unknown.
Sources of Organisational
Resistance to Change Organisation culture tends to be developed
over a long period of time;
change of culture is not easy.
Organisations, especially large ones, need formal rules and
procedures to maintain stability and standard of performance. Such
a need for maintaining stability often creates resistances to
Implementing change usually requires investment of resources in
money and staff time. These are not always made available.
At any time, an organisation would have many commitments to
external stakeholders in the form of contracts and agreements.
These may impose constraints on the speed and scale of changes the
organisation can undertake.
Changes, especially structural changes, can reduce the power and
influence of certain groups inside the organisation. If that is the
case, the affected groups will resist the changes.
Overcoming Resistance to
Change Kotter and Schlesinger proposed a six Approach
Model to deal with change resistance:
1. Education and communication
2. Participation and involvement
3. Facilitation and support
4. Negotiation and agreement
5. Co-optation and manipulation
6. Explicit and implicit coercion
Education and Communication
Assumes source of resistance lies in misinformation or poor
One of the best ways to overcome resistance to change is to
educate people about the change effort beforehand. Up-front
communication and education helps employees see the logic in the
change effort. This reduces unfounded and incorrect rumours
concerning the effects of change in the organization.
Best used: When information is lacking or is inaccurate.
Participation and Involvement
Prior to making a change, bring opponents into the process.
When employees are involved in the change effort they are more
likely to buy into change rather than resist it. This approach is
likely to lower resistance more so than merely hoping people will
acquiesce to change.
Best used: Where initiators lack information, and others have
power to resist.
Facilitation and Support The provision of various efforts to
Managers can head-off potential resistance by being
supportive of employees during difficult times.
Managerial support helps employees deal with fear and
anxiety during a transition period. This approach is
concerned with provision of special training,
counselling, time off work.
Best used: Where people resist because of adjustment
Negotiation and Agreement Exchange something of value in
exchange for lessening of
Managers can combat resistance by offering incentives to
employees not to resist change. This can be done by allowing
change resistors to veto elements of change that are
or change resistors can be offered incentives to go elsewhere
the company in order to avoid having to experience the
effort. This approach will be appropriate where those
change are in a position of power.
Best used: Where one group will lose, and has considerable
power to resist.
Co-optation and manipulation Twisting and distorting facts to
make them appear more
Co-optation involves the patronizing gesture of bringing a
person into a change management planning group for the sake of
appearances rather than their substantive contribution. This often
involves selecting leaders of the resisters to participate in the
change effort. These leaders can be given a symbolic role in
decision making without threatening the change effort.
Best used: Where other tactics wont work or are too
Explicit or Implicit Coercion
Use or threat of force or punishment on
Managers can explicitly or implicitly force
employees into accepting change by making
clear that resisting change can lead to losing
jobs, firing, or not promoting employees.
Best used: When speed is essential, and
initiators have power.
Expected Learning Outcomes
Students should know about organisational culture and the
common types of culture;
Students should know the main factors that influence
Students should understand the benefits and main drivers of
Students should know the main barriers to organisation
change at both individual and organisation levels
Students should know the steps of successful organisational
change, as suggested by Kotter and Cohen.