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An exploratory study of management perceptions of the role of Kotter’s urgency in creating a future change agenda

Kerrigan, Thomas (2021) An exploratory study of management perceptions of the role of Kotter’s urgency in creating a future change agenda. Masters thesis, Dublin, National College of Ireland.

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At some stage, nearly all organisations will undergo some form of change to remain viable. Organisational change is the actions that a company takes to alter a major component of the organisation, such as technology, culture, infrastructure, or processes. Change management is the method of delivering change and may be broken down into three phases: preparation, implementation, and follow-through (Stobierski, 2020).

The three phases of delivering change were first introduced Kurt Lewin in 1947. Lewin believed to achieve change it was necessary to first destabilise the status quo, prepare, then execute the change and then refreeze, or embed the new norm (Cummings et al., 2015). In 1995, John P. Kotter published “Leading change: Why Transformational Effort Fail” based on a study of over 100 companies and their change management practices. Kotter (1995) stated the change process was not three steps, but instead was expanded to eight. In Kotter’s framework, the preparation phase was initiated by the organisation create a sense of urgency. The senior leadership must scan the external environment, identify the need for change and lead the change agenda in the organisation.

Senior management should be in the best position to lead change within an organisation. They have the helicopter view of the organisation and can see what needs to be done strategical to maintain competitive advantage (Koene, 2017).

Whether it is through small proactive incremental or reactive transformational changes, the senior leadership must ensure that they are outward focussed. In contrast, the role of the middle management has been to deliver the product or service. They inward focussed, metric driven and directed by short-term planning. However, are these middle managers not the perfect candidates to drive the change agenda? The senior team may have the strategy, but the middle managers may be better placed and better connect to the people that need to be changed.

The aim of this study is to explore managements perceptions of change management. Having initially looked at the concept of change management, the study will then focus in on the first step. How does the organisation prepare for change? Questions such as, how is the status quo moved? How is a sense of urgency created? Is it through strategy or through creating an emotional connection with those who change effects?
Finally, and possibly the most important question, who is best placed to create the urgency and achieve change?

This study has reviewed change management literature and conducted interviews with change leaders within a specific organisation. These leaders have experience in change agendas from major downsizing of infrastructure to changes is business model resulted in its highest revenues in the company’s history and destroyed the competition. The author hopes that by comparing key points from the literature to the themes gleaned for the interviews that a better understand of change management and whether Kotter’s sense of urgency is the key to successful change.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor > HD28 Management. Industrial Management > Management of Change
H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor > Organisational Change
Divisions: School of Business > Master of Business Administration
Depositing User: Clara Chan
Date Deposited: 28 Jan 2022 14:06
Last Modified: 28 Jan 2022 14:06

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