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“Together we stand, divided we fall”: Constructivist Approach to Support Organizational Change in the Knowledge Work Context

Research output: Book/ReportDoctoral thesis

Details

Original languageEnglish
PublisherTampere University of Technology
Number of pages111
ISBN (Electronic)978-952-15-4026-4
ISBN (Print)978-952-15-4005-9
StatePublished - 6 Oct 2017
Publication typeG5 Doctoral dissertation (article)

Publication series

NameTampere University of Technology. Publication
Volume1494
ISSN (Print)1459-2045

Abstract

Contemporary organizations have a relation to information systems and information technologies (IS/IT). IS/IT sometimes forms the backbone of the operation or it may have a support function. Simultaneously this means that at some point the systems must be updated and renewed. The renewal brings along changes. Always. The disturbance and disruption caused by the change manifests itself in different ways in different parts of the organization. It is an individual trait, how an employee responds to change, and yet changes need to be managed on organizational levels too. The management of the change is important to secure the implementation of the change and to enable the swift recovery from the change so that the prospective benefits may start to realize.

Literature distinguishes levels to be noted in managing organizations operation: organizational, team, and individual levels. Similarly, the literature on change offers multiple types of change to be considered. The features distinguishing the different types of change comprise e.g. whether there is a clear, decided future solution to be (teleological change) or whether there is merely an unrefined state of the future to be (life cycle type of change). The meaning of the types of change for managing the change are elaborated in order to recognize the characteristic effects each change entails.

IS/IT literature covers various topics in this vast field. Managing IS/IT related change seems a bit neglected, especially when it comes to managing the operation with individual human aspect considered. This thesis is about managing IS/IT-related change in team-based organization by using a constructivist approach. Constructivism is a theory related to learning. Constructivist approach entails the coach-like approach of presenting subordinates with a cognitive incongruity, a challenge that makes them wanting to solve the issue building on their existing knowledge. The challenge is tackled by applying new knowledge together with the existing with feedback from more knowledgeable peers. An important feature is that the employee in midst of the change is able to reflect on her/his actions and thus acknowledging the learning. There are few examples of it being applied to professional context. This thesis studies ultimately the intersection of the three mentioned areas; IS/IT, change and constructivism. It deepens the understanding of the relationship these themes have and illuminates the suitability of the constructivist approach to managing IS/IT-related change in various contexts.

Seems that the IS/IT has its features of not being entirely about technologies nor the management being entirely about humans. An understanding of these features is required to address the issues in an orderly fashion. The organizational structure sometimes dictates the operation and culture, i. e. management. The daily routines of each member of the organization leaves little opportunities for individuals to be aware of the whole operation, save but the top management. Normally there is little need for this. This means that the ‘big picture’ that people have, varies. It is plausible to assume that each division, team, and individual observes the proceedings from their own perspective. However, the motivation of change usually stems from origins not familiar to all thus presenting the change with challenges. The thesis contributes to the increasing understanding of the phenomena related to IS/ITrelated change by studying multiple cases, changes.

The research behind this thesis consists of seven major changes from six different organizations. People involved in the changes were interviewed to form the empirical material for the research. Semi-structured interviews were used to gain depth as well as quality. The objective was to understand the dynamics that are affecting and included in the process when the working practices in an organization change. The objective entails the will to illuminate the change and to gain understanding on how a change may be addressed with better expectations for the outcome. Further, to meet the objective it means that various aspects are to be recognized and acknowledged as being significant for the change to happen.

Constructivist approach emerged as way to offer a solution on how to address such a change. The studied cases were contemplated through the ‘constructivist lens’ to study the phenomena and even though not intended to offer some nigh on normative suggestions on how to approach future issues of this kind.

Keywords

  • Organizational change, IS/IT-related environment, Team-based Organization, Constructivism, Constructivist Approach

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