Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to research a critical transition from individually‐experienced double binds to collaborative change. To this end an early phase of a change process in a central surgical unit is studied in detail. Design/methodology/approach – The study uses an interventionist and ethnographic methodology to research the shift from individual to collective during organizational change. Organizational change is studied as a resolution of evolving contradictions. In this early phase, contradictions can emerge as individually‐experienced double binds and crisis. Findings – The findings of the study describe a transition in which individually‐experienced double binds and crisis become a driving force for organizational change. The dissolution of contradictions as double binds and crisis is strongly connected to emotions. When emotions are unveiled and collectively worked out, they become shared and can be understood critically. A change process is usually conceptualized as proceeding through sequential phases. This study demonstrates, however, that some phases can emerge almost coincidently in organizational change. Researchers can accelerate change with interventionist and ethnographic methodology. Research limitations/implications – A challenge for change management is how to manage contradictions and emotions to enable change to happen. Emotions have an important role in change processes, which is also a challenge for further research. Originality/value – An alternative and complementary approach to studying the process of change as a transition from the individual experience of contradictions to collaboratively created change is introduced in the paper.
Journal of Organizational Change Management – Emerald Publishing
Published: May 24, 2011
Keywords: Organizational change; Change management; Individual conflict
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