An organization can be said to be a group of people pursuing a common goal. Organizations find themselves going through transformational processes, a phenomenon which can be referred to as Organizational Change. To achieve their common objectives, organizations have to monitor their performance against their expectations. This entails conducting interviews and assessments, a field of expertise usually referred to as Organizational Development. Most organizations, formal or informal are established to act as instruments to achieve their inherent objectives and add value to their stakeholders.
To achieve these, organizations are usually structured in that they incorporate division of labor to ensure effectiveness. Each member of the organizational hierarchy must perform their duties pertaining to the organization to ensure smooth running and good performance of the organization. Failure on any part of the organizational structure, usually results in failure in the whole system. Previous events in the history of organizations illustrate this phenomenon. For instance, several disasters that have happened in recent history could have been prevented had the management structures been operating differently.
Such disasters include The Challenger Disaster in 1986 and The Columbia Disaster in 2003. This study will dwell on these case studies to explore more on Organizational Change and Development and the issues pertaining to the two concepts. 1. 1 Problem Statement The performance of an organization largely depends on the management structure employed. This study addresses the problem of organizational malfunction owing to management limitations and the need to effect and sustain transformations within organizations for continued growth and development. 1. 2 Purpose of the Study
The aim of this study is to identify problem areas in organizational change and development and consequently chart the way forward in reverting these problems through effecting sustainable organizational change and development measures. The paper shall cite gaps in organizational theory, based on selected case studies, and suggest ways of mitigating the negative situation. 1. 3 Scope and Limitation The sphere of organizational theory is broad and includes numerous facets which ought to be investigated to come up with strong, generalized and conclusive remarks about the whole field.
However, owing to time constraints, this study will discuss organizational change and development, based on two relevant case studies to draw conclusions. While other case studies might prove significant, the two selected are taken to be representative of all. 2. 0 Discussion 2. 1 Case Studies Recent history is riddled with tales of disasters of differing magnitude, which happen in all spheres of life. Most of these disasters however fall into the technological category. The space scene has not been left behind in contributing its fair share in the menace.
The Challenger Disaster in 1986 and The Columbia Disaster in 2003 are examples of space world technological hazards. In the wake of The Challenger Disaster, The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the US government executive agency responsible for space program and research, was taken to task over the issues surrounding the catastrophe. The presidential commission given the mandate to investigate the incident concluded that other than the physical causes of the mishap, there were significant loopholes within NASA operations that could have led to the disaster.
NASA is a matrix organization with its management organs being dispersed over a large geographical area. These different organs acted as different centers of power, causing an obvious conflict of interest and confusion of communication within the whole system. These management hitches significantly contributed to the resulting accident. In the post-Challenger period, changes were effected within NASA management. However, these changes did not last long enough to prevent a similar disaster from happening, this time The Columbia Disaster in 2003.
After investigations, CAIB, the board investigating the case concluded that there was unofficial hierarchy within NASA programs and directorates hindering the flow of communication. Management decisions reflected missed opportunities, blocked or ineffective communication channels, flawed analysis and ineffective leadership. The aftermath of the Columbia Disaster clearly suggests that a lot of the changes implemented within NASA practice in the post-Challenger period were not sustained, thus the recurrence of a similar event years later. 2.
2 Theories and concepts of organizational change and development Organizational theory (OT) is the study of organizations, identifying their common themes for the purpose of solving problems, maximizing efficient performance and productivity, and meeting the needs of stakeholders (Barzilai, n. d). According to Barzilai, OT basically studies three major sub-topics, individual, group, and organizational processes. Individual processes include motivation, personality and role theories. Group processes pertain to working in groups, leadership, power and influence.
Organizational processes entail organizational structure, and culture. These are therefore the main tenets of OT, study of which acts as a diagnostic tool to diagnose need for organizational change. Organizational Development is basically concerned with transitions within organizations. Contemporary organizations are faced with new dynamics and contexts owing to the rapid expansions in the world of technology (Marshak, 2004). These emerging change dynamics have had profound implications in the theory and practice of organizational development.
For instance, advances in technology have made communication much easier and faster today. Therefore, in case of a problem within the operations of an organization, news is likely to pass quickly among employees, and other publics, predictably, in various distorted versions. Managers today are therefore faced with the daunting task of communicating and giving feedback to employees as constantly as possible to avoid miscommunication-related problems. The contemporary organization is faced with the need for continuous transformation. This change must be comprehensive and above all, sustainable.
In a way, organizations could be said to be in a continuous state of metamorphosis, a phenomenon necessitated by the need to keep up with developments in the new information age. Consequently, alternative theories are being adopted, which means organizations have to make conscious efforts to move away from their comfort zones. Since knowledge ages rapidly, there is a need to learn constantly, a process which can be described as continuous personal transformation. For an organization to have a competitive edge against its competitors, it must be able to improve existing skills knowledge and abilities, and acquire new ones.
Learning organizations manage to constantly transform the skills of their employees, and thus consist of teams whose learning styles are balanced in nature. It is also paramount that the personal ambitions of employees correspond with those of the organization. (Rampersad, 2004) However, change is usually met by a lot of resistance since most people despise it. This resistance can be accounted for by previous disappointing experiences, fear of the unknown, lack of trusting relationships, and parallel ambitions.
When employees do not buy into the corporate culture of the organization, they are likely to oppose propositions for change. The top management of any organization needs to be honest on the actual situation and state clearly the duration and consequences of change to be able to handle resistance. Several strategies can be employed to mitigate resistance. They include education, shared responsibility, facilitation, and recognition of the knowledge each party possesses. Cultivation of these enhances the likelihood of attaining organizational acceptance and psychometric integrity (Muchinsky, 2004).
In the field of organizational development, there is a strong tradition of advocating for employee participation in the change process. Change interventions directed at many organizational levels are more likely to succeed than those that focus on a single level (Rafferty & Griffin, 2001). Similarly, the number of change activities involved are also likely to influence the success of change effort. The implementation process should be divided into phases, each of which carrys particular activities to ensure efficiency and success.
The knowledge infrastructure within the organization should stimulate a good learning environment, teamwork, creativity and confidence (Rampersad, 2004). In essence, mutual-trust, respect and teamwork promotes a sense of belonging among employees making them more likely to support the change effort, enhancing its sustainability. 2. 3 Managing people at individual and organizational level Individual attitudes and behaviors of employees affect the performance of organizations (Kim, 2005). The human capital comprises the most expensive investment for any organization, and poses the greatest challenge in management (Schiemann, 2006).
Good employees exhibit such characteristics as high job satisfaction, commitment to the organization, motivation and devotion to serve the public and the organization. Individuals with these qualities contribute positively to the performance of the organization. Individual-level factors are therefore important in predicting the performance of an organization. It is thus important to note that people are the most important cause of the good performance of an organization. Organizations perform better when they value their employees and perceive them as assets rather than liabilities.
Essentially, people-centered management and people-oriented practices increase employee satisfaction and thus, improve organizational performance. An organization must cultivate high people equity to ensure maximum performance of its human capital. To achieve this, an organization must ensure strong leadership at senior levels, a well defined business strategy, effective supervision and organizational values that are compelling. The Human Resources department should therefore focus on implementing a reward system, and performance management strategies to motivate and increase the performance of the human capital (McNamara, no date)