Purpose – This paper seeks to explore the concept of adaptive change. It aims to examine the literature on the subject and draw out some of the key lessons to be considered when seeking to manage change within an evolving world of work and it seeks to shed light on the increasing practice for the use of emergent strategies in companies during change programmes. Design/methodology/approach – The paper examines the literature on the subject of adaptive change and draws out some of the key lessons to be considered when seeking to manage change within an evolving world of work. Findings – It would be convenient to think that change is planned, a deliberate process, a product of conscious reasoning and actions and as such a rational outcome of a clear cause and effect process. However, change often occurs in an apparently spontaneous and unplanned or emergent way. When managers make decisions that are apparently unrelated to the original intention they tend to be based on unspoken, and sometimes unconscious, assumptions about the organisations, its environment and the future and are, therefore, not as unrelated as they may seem at first. Such implicit assumptions dictate the direction of seemingly disparate and unrelated decisions, thereby shaping the change process by “drift” rather than “design”. Such changes may reflect the unconscious scanning of the managerial landscape associated with changes in political and socio‐economic environments, market conditions, competition, customer expectations and the impact of technology. Research limitations/implications – The body of literature on change is being added to constantly and therefore there are limitations as to the extent of the literature that it has been possible to include within this paper. Practical implications – The paper sheds light on the increasing practice for the use of emergent strategies in companies during change programmes. Originality/value – Little is new since the paper reviews existing literature on the subject.
Industrial and Commercial Training – Emerald Publishing
Published: Oct 3, 2008
Keywords: Change management; Adaptability; Complexity theory; Emergent strategy
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