Changing in Large Firms Aligning Change and Agility
One of the conventional wisdoms of management practice and theory is that today's business environment is especially challenging for large companies because of the rapid pace at which technologies, business processes and markets are evolving. This thesis concerns with how large firms might increase their ability to keep up with the rapid pace of change, rapidly adapting to their external environment, responding to changes and taking advantage of changing circumstances.
A review of organisational change studies reveals that the dominant underlying assumption regarding change models originates in the functionalist paradigm, basically reflecting a static environment. This thesis argues that organisations are being exhorted to implement static change models, while the rapidly changing and turbulent business environment suggests a dynamic process of constant renewal. It is thus proposed to analyse changes, not just from a rationalistic means-ends perspective, but also from the point of view of what is to be changed, why it is to be changed and who is to benefit from this change. A consequence of this revisioning would be that routines and processes are designed with change as the guiding rule, resulting in change as a part of business as usual.
The main argument in this thesis is that creating and managing knowledge is the route to creating value and competitiveness, thus change management models should be compatible with the aims and processes of knowledge management. It is argued that one of the most important consequences of focusing on knowledge is that companies will have to move from an approach based on intermittent responses to environmental changes to a processual understanding of change. This approach to change is labelled agility, and is concerned with the ability to manage and apply knowledge effectively in order to cope with changes with a view to creating opportunities. The purpose of this thesis is to create an understanding of dynamic change capabilities in large firms by exploring the implications of knowledge management for organisational change processes. This purpose has been studied via an explorative investigation of the phenomena of change management at a large company in the car industry. The studies in the thesis have been performed using a literature review and a multi-layered case study.