Bamford, David and Forrester, Paul L. (2003) Managing planned and emergent change within an operations management environment. International Journal of Operations & Production Management, 23 (5). pp. 546-564. ISSN 0144-3577

Organisational change, as a general topic, has been extensively researched since the 1950s, as evidenced by the proliferation of papers in the last five decades. As a research topic within operations management, it offers fascinating insights into the way manufacturing organisations function and adapt in reality. This paper evaluates what has worked, and what has not been effective, within a UK-based manufacturing company, tracking multiple change initiatives over several years across two company sites. The core research focused on the implementation of change initiatives based on common constructs, such as planned change, as defined by management writers and consultants. From the research it emerged that a realistic interpretation of the change process had to take into account multiple and varied forces, such as: customers and suppliers; the economic environment; national and international legislation; the history of the organisation; etc. The research underpinning this paper enabled an identification of the specific influences on changes in the organisation and the way these interacted over time. A model of organisational change, developed from the research, is presented. The contribution of this paper lies mainly in deepening operations managers’ understanding of organisational change. It also uncovers the underlying rationales that steer change initiatives (planned or emergent) and identifies the key influences on organisational change. It provides and renews the necessary vocabulary, allowing managers to understand better and act on the multiple dimensions of organisational change. Furthermore, the provision of key learning points through a number of management “guidelines”, provides specific advice on how to effect sustainable change within organisations.

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