A practice-based perspective on strategic change

From time to time there are som really great dissertations on Change. I would like to start a new series here on my Blog that features some great dissertations on Change.

The first one I want to share with you, my fellow readers, is “A practice-based perspective on strategic change” by Florian Kappler.

This dissertation aims to contribute to strategic change research by adopting a practice-based perspective. While strategic change processes on the organizational level have received significant attention in previous research, a practice-based perspective on change has not been sufficiently considered. A practice perspective on strategy has been suggested and established as ‘strategy-as-practice’, which so far has mainly concentrated on processes of strategy formation rather than strategic change. This study intends to shed light on strategic change by taking a practice-based perspective and investigating organizational practices enacting and constructing change processes.

Based on an inductive, longitudinal, in-depth case study on a European manufacturing company that was undergoing a planned strategic change process, the study investigates two related research questions. Firstly, it explores which organizational practices change participants engaged in to construct and enact strategic change and, secondly, it examines how these change practices aided in the social construction of change. It does so by adopting a social constructionist perspective and the understanding that reality such as organizational change is socially constructed through situated discursive interaction. By emphasizing interrelational activities of individuals, this practice-based perspective penetrates into the internal life of processes and makes the reflective and performative activity of change participants the main unit of analysis.

As a result of this research I was able to identify and describe a repertoire of change practices that actors engaged in to enact strategic change. The repertoire included the practices of (1) change process design, (2) change process evaluation, and (3) coordination and experience sharing that focus on drafting and crafting the change process; (4) objective refining and clarification, (5) identity and community building, (6) establishing new language, and (7) training and learning that concentrate on interpreting and disseminating the content aspects of change; and (8) establishing connectedness and relatability and (9) (re-)integration that involves embedding and connecting the change process in its context.

This work is highly descriptive in that it provides a detailed account of these change practices, how they were enacted and how they contributed to the construction of strategic change. The present study is among the first to empirically identify and portray change practices and is able to locate them in the wider context of strategy-as-practice and strategizing. It therefore provides a valuable contribution to the ‘practice turn’ in management, change process theories, and offers guidance for practitioners engaging in change initiatives.

You can download the entire dissertation in English language, here: Kappler,_Florian_(2007)_-_A_practice-based_perspective_on_strategic_change

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