According to Buchanan and Badham (1999) ‘Change Management’ is a political turf game. Critically discuss this claim and illustrate the key features of your discussion using examples of organizational change from recent New Zealand corporate and public sector history (use publicly available sources). Introduction Organizations are neither the rational, harmonious entities celebrated in managerial theory nor the arenas of apocalyptic class conflict projected by Marxists (Bacharach&Lawler, 1980). Hardy and Clegg (1996) believe that modern organizations passed by the guild structures and as organizations grew larger, skills become increasingly fragmented and specialized and positions become more functionally differentiated.
Organizational change is part of and a result of struggles between contradictory forces, also change management practice is related with endeavoring to manage their competing demands (Prichard, 2002). To understand why and how to change organizations, it is first necessary to understand their structures, management and behaviour. As Mintzberg and Quinn (1991,xii.cited in Burnes, 1996) has observed: Whether we realize it or not, our behaviour is guided by the systems of ideas that we have internalized over the years. Much can be learned by bringing these out into the open, examining them more carefully, and comparing them with alternative ways to view the world- including ones based on systematic study.
These ‘systems of ideas’, or organizational theories are crucial to change management in two respects. First, they provide models of how organization should be structured and managed. Second, they provide guidelines for judging and prescribing the behaviour and effectiveness of individuals and groups in an organization. It is clear that in many organizations there is no clear understanding if the theories. Change cannot hope to be fully successful under circumstances (Burnes, 1996). An understanding of organizational politics requires an analysis of power, politics and organizational change.
Power, politics and organizational change Power has been defined by Weber (1978) as the ability to get others to do what you want them to do, even if this is against their will, or to get them to do something they otherwise would not (Dahl, 1957). Power is embedded in everyday life, it is much more than negation and repression of the actions of others. ‘Rather than A getting B to do something B would not otherwise do, social relations of power typically involve both A and B doing what they ordinary do’ (Isaac, 1987). Power is the capacity to influence decisions while politics is the actual process of exerting this influence.
Organizational politics is the management if influence to obtain ends not sanctioned by the organization or to obtain ends through non-sanctioned influence means (Bacharach, 1981). Power and politics both relate to pursuit of self-interest and overcoming the resistance of others. Organizational politics is power in action in organizations, it is emerging in activities to get one’s way in an organizational setting. Power, politics and change are inextricable linked. Uncertainty and ambiguity are created by change. The more uncertainty and ambiguity are setting, the more scope of creative input (Buchanan;Badham1999)
Many writers refer to organizational politics as games. Pfeffer (1981), in his major work on power in organizations, took a view that decisions in organizations are the result of games among Players with different perceptions and interests. Mintaberg (1983) listed 13 political games that are common on organizations, the key ones being: games to resist authority, games to counter resistance, games to build power bases, games to defeat rivals and games to change the organization. Buchanan;Badham (1999) viewed organizational politics as a game in which the players complete for different kinds of territory-for turf.
Turf usually combines not only areas of influence and power, but also status and reputation in society. Turf is often related with use power to control territory or resources, such as company, people and money. Where there are scarce resources in organizations, the psychology of scarcity and comparison take over. In such situations, possession of resources becomes the focus for comparisons, the basis for self-esteem and, ultimately, the source of power (Zaleznik, 1970).
Turf game can be viewed individuals and groups using political strategies and tactics to defend and extend their turf. Individuals struggle to enlarge their personal turf; groups struggle to protect their collective turf. It might be comforting to believe that individuals and groups within organizations are supportive for each other. Both individuals and groups pursue courses of action to promote their interests, regardless of the organization’s formal goals and objectives (Morgan, 1986).
Winning the turf game
In order to look at how to win the turf game, firstly, we should focus on political behaviour. Buchanan&Badham (1999) viewed political behaviour is based on personal ambition, organizational structures that create roles and departments which compete with each other, and in primary decisions which cannot be resolved by reason and logic alone but which rely on the values and preferences of the key actors involved. Conflict is viewed as a critical condition leading to power and political behavior. The sources of conflict are competition for scarce territory-for turf and conflict over incompatible goals. In the same way that conflict can be either constructive or damaging. Secondly, looking at change agent. Change agent can be defined someone who want to use ‘will and skill’ to engage in the political organizational change.
Change agent is a skilled political activist, who could support information sharing, joint problem solving and collaborative action planning among a political organizational change. Both internal and external change agent play a lot of distinct characters in enjoying the political change or winning the turf game. In additional, using the appropriate strategies and tactics is meaningful in organizational changes. Minzberg (1987, cited in hall et al.1999) has maintained that there cannot be a single definition of strategy. He argued that strategy is a concept pning at least five dimensions: plan, ploy, pattern, position and perspective.
Buchanan&Badham (1999) made a table of ordinary tactics in organizational change, which are image building, selective information, scapegoating, compromise and rule manipulation. ‘Winning the organization games is about overcoming the barriers, human and organizational, to gaining power in the organization with the minimum of effort and the maximum rewards.'(Von Zugbach, 1995, pp.1-2)
Case analysis: Shuguang Chemical Factory( Background Shuguang Chemical Factory, a sulfate chemical company, was founded in 1979. In recent years, it becomes the professional manufacturer of sulfate, food, and medicine series chemical products. By the 1980s and early 1990s, it was a state-owned enterprise. Usually state-owned enterprises (SOEs)( in China offered a generous package of wages and social protection, pensions, heavily subsidized housing, medical coverage, childcare, food, and recreational facilities (Richard, 1996). In 1992, a boom year, output grew 13 percent, and yet two-thirds of Chinese SOEs were loss-makers.
Managers had little incentive to resist wage demands because their future promotion to larger SOEs is determined in part by increases in worker welfare during their tenure. Employees were not eager to work efficiently and did not try to develop new ways to produce more products, because of the recession of SOEs (Jeffrey& Woo, 1999) In November 1993, for the first time, the party identified ambiguous property rights as an important cause of the inefficiency of the state enterprise sector, and decided that large and medium-size state-owned enterprises should experiment with the corporate system, and that some small state-owned enterprises could be contracted out or leased; other SOEs shifted to the partnership system in the form of stock sharing, or were sold to collectives and individuals. In 1994, my father Zhou Mingxiong bought that factory.
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