View of Organisations
This review concentrates on primary and secondary sources of information. A controlled focus on the research question posed shall be maintained. The research is not intended to be completely definitive. However, it will be both quantitative and qualitative. Some understanding will be given to the reader regarding the complexities of civilian and military organisations.
French, Bell and Zawacki (1989), in their writings discuss that organisations “can be viewed or seen as complex, open, social systems.”1 This approach began to emerge from the developmental literature over the last twenty years. Organisations, such as the Air Corps, are seen to be mechanisms which take inputs from the surrounding environment. The inputs are subjected to various processes which will result in an output. Katz and Kahn (1966), suggest that organisations can be better understood if they are considered as dynamic and open systems.
What is a system?
Organisations are composed of many interdependent elements. Alteration in one element of the system will ultimately result in change in some other part of the system. Organisations have the property of equilibrium, that is, the system will generate a force to move towards a state of balance. In an open system interaction takes place with the environment, it is more than just a set of interrelated elements. Organisations as open systems, require an input and output balanced with the environment to survive over time. This approach to systems theory can be related to the Congruence Model of Organisational Behaviour (Nadler & Tushman, 1977, 1980) and is based on the general systems model.
Congruence Model of Organisational Behaviour
French, Bell and Zawacki (1989), discuss the systems approach in organisations as composed of independent parts. Change in one element of the system will result in change in other parts of the system. The Congruence Model of organisational behaviour is based on how well organisational components are fitted together, that is, the level of congruence achieved among the components. Nadler and Tushman (1980), tell us “as open systems organisations need to maintain favourable transactions of input and output with the environment to survive over time.”2
The model is structured around input, transformation process, and outputs, as can be shown from Figure 1.1. The main type of input to the model can be described as:
- The environment presenting constraints, demands and opportunities.
- Available organisational resources.
- Organisational history, including key events, e.g. decisions, crises, norms etc., which influence current behaviour.
- Organisational strategy and key decisions which match the organisation’s resources to the available opportunities, constraints, and demands in the environment.
TO ADD FIGURE 1.1
The output of the system includes organisational performance, group performance and individual behaviour. Its effect contributes to general performance. The basic framework views the organisation as a mechanism which takes input (strategy and resources in organisational history and the environment) and transforms it into an output (patterns of individual, group, and organisational behaviour).
The main component parts of the model are: (Transformation process).
- Organisational tasks and its critical characteristics.
- Organisational tasks performed by individuals.
- Formal organisational planning, including structures, processes, systems, etc. which are designed to motivate and help individuals in the performance of organisational tasks.
- Informal organisational arrangements not planned or written, but become part of work processes over time, for example, communication, power, influence, values, and norms, etc. These characterise how an organisation actually functions.
Definitions of Organisational fit
Nadler and Tushman (1980), identify many areas of organisational fit which require analysis.
- Are distorted perceptions of organisational structure held by individuals? – Is there a convergence of individual and organisational goals?
- Individual/Task – Are individual needs matched by the tasks? – Have individuals developed the skills to meet task demands?
- Individual/Informal Organisation – How does the informal organisation meets individual requirements?
- How does the informal organisation make use of resources matched to informal goals?
- Task/Organisation – Can organisational arrangements meet the demands of the task Do organisational arrangements motivate current behaviour which is consistent with task demands?
- Task/Informal Organisation – Can the structures of the informal organisation simplify task performance? Does it hinder or help individuals meet the demands of the task?
- Organisation/Informal Organisation – Are the structures of the informal organisation for example, goals, rewards, consistent with those of the formal organisation?
The basic proposition of the model is that organisations will be most effective when their major components are congruent with each other. Organisations facing problems of effectiveness normally result from poor management. Organisational factors usually stem from nonalignment to noncongruence, among organisational components.
No one best organisational design, style of management, or method of working exists. Different patterns of organisation and management will be most appropriate in various situations. The model recognises that individuals, tasks, strategies, and environments may differ greatly from organisation to organisation. Organisational theory is best understood by understanding what is Organisational Development (OD)?
As this study develops the Congruence Model of Organisational Behaviour by Nadler and Tushman (1980), will be applied to management techniques in the Air Corps in Chapter 2.
What is O.D.?
Cummings and Worley (1993), with French, Bell and Zawacki (1989), explain Organisational Development. Cummings and Worley describe the practice of OD as covering “a wide diversity of activities, with seemingly endless variations upon them….. the study of OD addresses a broad range of topics, including the effects of change, the methods of organisational change, and the factors influencing OD success”.3 Organisational Development is applied across many different situations. It has become a preferred strategy for simplifying change in organisations, e.g. British Armed Forces and American Military Forces. French, Bell and Zawacki (1989), use an individual focussed description of OD offering “a prescription for improving the fit between an individual and the organisation and between the organisation and its environment. The content includes a focus on the culture and processes of the organisation guidelines for designing and implementing action programs, conceptualising the organisation and its environment in system theory terms, and creating change processes that empower individuals through involvement, participation, and commitment”4. The focus of O.D. is very broad based. Many different academic works consulted during the research stage of this study offered definitions. These included Cummings and Worley (1993), Schien (1980), French and Bell (1979) and French, Bell and Zawacki (1989). I have selected the definition offered by Schien because of its relationship with my research question. Schien (1980), defines O.D. as “an organisation is the planned co-ordination of the activities of a number of people for the achievement of some common explicit purpose or goal, through division of labour and function, and through a hierarchy of authority and responsibility”.5
Research has shown that O.D. addresses the opportunities and problems involved in managing human dynamics in many different work circumstances. An examination will be conducted in chapter three of Organisational Development in the Air Corps. Schien (1980), described organisations as social systems possessing characteristics, and OD efforts are directed towards organisations or major sub-parts of them. Organisational development helps people to take charge of planned change, thus leading to a higher degree of success, a role responsibility of the O.D. consultant.
The functions of the O.D. Consultant
Cummings and Worley (1993), with French, Bell and Zawacki (1989), discuss the role of the OD Consultant. Organisation development consultant professionals usually have positions internal or external to the organisation. Internal consultants are members of the organisation, probably located in the Human Resources or Personnel Department. They perform the OD role exclusively, or combine it with other assigned tasks.
Internal consultants have certain advantages because they are insiders and can save time identifying and understanding organisational problems. They have the most up-to-date knowledge of the organisation, its role dynamics, and understand the organisation’s culture, informal practices, sources of power. Internal consultants have access to a variety of sources of information, including rumours, company reports, and direct observations. Internal consultants may be accepted more quickly by organisational members. They are more familiar, less threatening to organisational members than outsiders, can more readily establish rapport and trust with people.
Some major drawbacks of internal consultants include a possible loss of objectivity because of strong ties to the organisation. Direct linkage makes them too cautious, particularly when superiors can affect their careers. Internal consultants may also lack certain skills and experience in simplifying organisational change, and may not have the expressed commitment often associated with external experts.
External consultants are not members of the client organisation. They typically work for a consulting firm, a university, or are self-employed. Organisations generally hire external consultants to provide a particular specialisation that is unavailable internally. The consultants are likely to be more objective in perspective and add to the organisation development process. External Consultants also have the advantage of probing difficult issues and to question the status quo. They are also often afforded some power because of their perceived proficiency and objectivity thus influencing the process of change.
A major disadvantage of external consultants is the extra time it takes them to penetrate the organisation and to gain a proficient working knowledge of it. Organisational members may be suspicious of outsiders and probably not trust them enough, resulting in withholding relevant information. External consultants may also be viewed negatively because they may be seen as not having an interest in the organisation or the outcomes of change efforts. Organisational members could believe that if problems arise, external consultants can simply walk away with little negative consequence.
A promising approach to having the benefit of both internal and external consultants is to include them as members of a joint internal-external consulting team. It seems likely that the Air Corps will use this method to introduce planned change to the organisation.
French, Bell and Zawacki (1989), show how organisations learn from experience and the OD literature suggests that learning how to learn is a desired outcome of OD interventions.
There is a unique character to OD interventions, French, Bell, and Zawacki (1889), maintain that the client system becomes skilful in solving its own problems both present and future by itself and the following quote sums up the outcome of the learning process “give a man a fish, and you have given him a meal, teach a man to fish, and you have given him a livelihood”.6 The relationship between the role of the consultant and the time it takes to carry out a programme requires explanation.
Organisations are not easily or quickly modified. The key constituent of a change programme includes, a focussed long range planned sustained strategy. Miles and Schmuck, are referred to by French, Bell and Zawacki (1989) as suggesting “in large organisations two to three years of O.D. effort is typical before completion of serious and self-sustaining change”.7 OD development programmes unfold according to a predetermined strategy. Part of the planned nature of OD programmes usually involves a general strategy though the strategy may be only dimly obvious and articulable.
What organisations are suited for OD?
Schien and Greiner (1977), echo the sentiment mechanistic, bureaucratic organisations are not suitable for many current OD practices. They suggest behavioural problems, emerging from bureaucratic structures, vary from those originating from organic structures. Academics suggest that different techniques are required to deal with mechanistic structures, such as the Air Corps.
Many observers perceive the military to be an authoritarian, mechanistic organisation. If the values of the military are incompatible with those of OD, it would be logical to suggest OD efforts and military organisations are antagonistic. As my research develops this view, surprisingly, is not so. Many different models of intervention are available for use both in military organisations and the civil sector and have been used to varying degrees of success. Before change can be carried out in any organisation it is necessary to construct a framework to enable an understanding of how the process works.
A Framework for Understanding Change.
Hersey and Blanchard (1988), agree it is essential that managers are empowered to implement change. They should be able to select people, either internally or externally, to the organisation with skills, knowledge, and training in at least two areas:
1. Diagnosis – The foremost and probably the most important stage of the change process. Hersey and Blanchard (1988), broadly define the skills of diagnosis as “involving techniques for asking the right questions, sensing the environment of the organisation, establishing effective patterns of observation and data collection, and developing ways to process and interpret data”.8 Change agents from their diagnosis can find out the following.
a. The current situation
b. What is likely to happen to the current situation if no change is made.
C. The ambition of personnel in the current situation.
d. Analysis of any constraints, blockages or anything else preventing movement from the actual to the ideal situation.
2. Implementation – At this stage of the change process, the translation of diagnostic data into change goals, plans, strategies and procedures is achieved. Hersey and Blanchard (1988), pose the following questions “how can change be effected in a work group or organisation and how will it be received? What is adaptive and what is resistant to change within the environment”?9
The writings of Hersey and Blanchard (1988), show in the diagnosis mode, the following three steps are important.
- Point of view.
- Identification of problem(s).tors and motivators (Hertsberg):
Point of View
To get the complete picture of what is happening in an organisation many different points of view of a predicament are obtained from the people affected by impending change. It is important to have a clear focus about the frame of reference (the problem) from the outset.
Identification of Problem(s)
All change initiatives must commence with identification of the problem(s). In problematic organisations a situation could exist where there is an inconsistency between what is actually happening, (the real), and the change consultant, (point of view), to the future of the organisation, (the ideal).
Change programmes must attempt to reduce inconsistencies between the real, (actual), and the ideal, (suitable). Hersey and Blanchard (1988), point out “change efforts may not always involve attempting to move the real closer to the ideal. Sometimes after diagnosis you might realize that your ideal is unrealistic and should be brought more in line with what is actually happening”.10
The following diagnostic questions are about a change situation as identified by Hersey and Blanchard (1988):
- Within the organisation what leadership, decision-making, and problem solving skills are available? Are employees motivated, committed to objectives? Is esprit de corps (Likert), come conducive to good communication?
- Are organisational personnel ready for change? Are they willing and able to take significant responsibility for their own performance? (Hersey and Blanchard)
- What are the needs and wants of personnel right now? (Maslow)
- Examine the following hygiene factors and motivators (Hertsberg):
b. Working conditions
C. Job security
d. Interpersonal relations he transformation pro
e. Complaints about subordinates new
f. Recognition for accomplishments
g. Challenge to work
h. Opportunities for growth and development
i. Levels of responsibility
Having made a good diagnosis of the organisational problem(s) it will be necessary to select a change model.
As this study develops it will become obvious to the reader that diagnosis carried out in the Air Corps is lacking in certain areas.
Models of Change
Organisations using a planned change model can resolve difficult situations, learn from experience, adapt to the changing environment and learn to influence future changes.
Cummings and Worley (1993), with French Bell and Zawacki (1989), discuss various models of introducing change in organisations.
Cummings and Worley (1993), describe one early model of planned change provided by Kurt Lewin, which became known as Lewin’s Change Model. The model provides a general framework for understanding organisational change. Lewin envisaged change as a “modification of those forces keeping a system’s behaviour stable”.11 At any given instant two sets of forces are used in organisations. The forces can be described as those striving to maintain the status quo and those questing for change. Cummings and Worley (1993), articulate “when both sets of forces are about equal, current levels of behaviour are maintained” in what Lewin termed a state of “quasi stationery equilibrium”.12 To alter the state, increase the force pushing for change, or decrease the force maintaining the current state or apply a combination of positive and negative forces.
Figure 1.2 shows Lewin’s three Step Change Model consisting of:
- Unfreezing – This procedure usually involves identifying and reducing those forces requiring realignment.
- Moving – This phase begins the transformation process and the organisational behaviour is moved to a new level, developing new approaches to values, behaviours and attitudes through movement caused by changes in structures and current work processes.
- Refreezing – This stage offers stability to the organisation and a new state of equilibrium is realised. The process is supported by strengthening the new organisational state through redefining organisational culture, norms, policies and structures.
TO ADD FIGURE 1.2
Cummings and Worley (1993), associate Lippitt, Watson and Westley (1958), as having developed different phases of the planning model. This model was later refined by Kolb and Frohman (1970). Figure 1.3, shows the planning model and planned change is viewed from the position of the OD consultant working with members of the organisation. The two principles underpinning the model are:
- All information should be freely and openly shared between the organisation and the change agent.
- Information is useful only if it can be directly translated into action.
TO ADD FIGURE 1.3
Planned change is a dynamic seven-step process involving:
- Scouting – Change agent and organisation jointly exploring.
- Entry – Development of a bilateral contract and shared expectations.
- Diagnosis -Identification of specific improvement goals.
- Planning – Identification of action steps and possible resistance to change.
- Action Implementation of action steps.
- Stabilization and Evaluation – Evaluation to decide the success of change and requirement for further action or cessation of action.
- Termination – Departing from the procedure or stopping one project and beginning another.
Action Research Model
TO ADD FIGURE 1.4
The action research model discussed by Cummings and Worley (1993), describes “planned change as a cyclical process in which initial research about the organisation provides information to guide subsequent action”.13 The result of the action process is valued as the means of providing further information to guide extra action. A high degree of co-operation between organisational members and O.D. practitioners is assumed. A successful outcome of the procedure is based on good data gathering, a high degree of diagnosis before action planning and implementation. It is assumed all outcomes are carefully evaluated after implementation.
Conventionally, action research is directed at helping specific organisations to carry out planned change and broaden knowledge to be used at a later stage. Figure 1.4, shows the cyclical phases of planned change, as described by the action research model. The model consists of eight main processes:
- Problem verification – Senior management recognise problems exists and agree to internal/external consultation.
- Consultation with a behavioural science expert – During the introductory stages the consultant and the client work very closely with each other.
- Data gathering and preliminary diagnosis – The consultant usually gathers views, opinions etc from organisational participants and may use any combination of the following methods: a. interviews b. process observation c. questionnaires d. organisational performance data
- Feedback to key client or group – Action research intervention is a joint activity and data is fed back to the client in team meeting briefing groups. This process helps the group to understand the strengths and weaknesses of the organisation or department under analysis. The consultant using the feedback step discusses all relevant information obtained from the previous process. The consultant will protect all sources of information, hold back data if the group is not yet ready or if such information would make the client too sensitive.
- Joint diagnosis of a problem – The group discusses responses and decide whether to take action. A close relationship exists between data gathering, feedback, and diagnosis, as the consultant presents the data for validation and further analysis.
- Joint action planning – The consultant and the management team jointly agree on further action to be taken. It is interesting to observe that this is the beginning of the moving process as described in Lewin’s Change Model. The organisation begins to move towards a quasi-stationery state of equilibrium. The specific intervention depends on culture, technology and environment of the organisation.
- Action – This phase involves the transformational process or movement from one organisational state to another. Part of the reorganisation may involve new work procedures, updated policies, job redesign, and strengthening new performance or culture. A phasing in time or a conversion period is required, as the organisation or subunit moves from its present state to the future preferred state.
- Data gathering after action – Action research is a cyclical process, consequently data gathered after intervention must be feedback to the organisation leading to further diagnosis and new action.
Comparisons of change models
All three models characterised, Lewin’s Change Model, Planning Model, and Action Research Model show the phases by which planned change is made in organisations. Figure 1.5, shows similarity between the models or where change is preceded by a first stage. For example, unfreezing, diagnosis, or action planning, followed by a concluding stage, e.g. refreezing, or evaluation. Cummings and Worley (1993), demonstration of how Lewin’s change model differs from the Planning Model and Action Research Model “in that it focuses on the general process of planned change, rather than on specific OD functions”.14
The Planning and Action Research Models characterise OD approaches to presenting change.
The Action Research Model is more precise on developing on-site interventions in collaboration with management after the completion of a thorough diagnosis than using the Planning Model. Action Research goes beyond resolving organisational problems and helps managers to move towards personnel development. It imparts knowledge to solve future problems. This is the preferred model used by the US Military and I intend to use the model on the Air Corps as the study develops.
The relationship between the models of change to intervention theory requires explanation.
TO ADD FIGURE 1.5
Initiating major change in any large complex organisation, such as the Air Corps can be difficult and a demanding task. The experience in the Irish Civil Service indicates “initiating change does not guarantee that the change will be introduced”.15 Machiavelli, in The Prince (1983), informs his audience “it should be bourn in mind that there is nothing more difficult to handle, more doubtful of success, and more dangerous to carry through than initiating changes”.16 Bennis, Berlew, Schien and Steel (1947), feature the importance of identifying the surface disquiet with the present organisational state. If people are content with the current state, they will not be motivated to change. People need to be frozen out of their position to be interested in change. Change interferes with the normal course of events in an organisation. Such disruptions can frustrate existing systems of management control particularly those developed as part of the formal organisational arrangements. Change may make those systems irrelevant and/or inappropriate. As a result, during change the organisation may lose the ability to effectively co-ordinate the work output. As goals, structures, and people change, it becomes difficult to supervise performance and make corrections as in normal control processes. Most formal organisational control arrangements are primarily devised for stable states, not transition states. Organisational members must be highly motivated to perform in the face of major turbulence. French, Bell, and Zawacki (1989), examine Nadler and maintain “people must be told that the old ways which include familial tasks, jobs, procedures, and structures are no longer applicable. Political behaviour frequently becomes more active and more intense during this period”.17 For many years researchers and managers have contemplated the most effective way to carry out organisational change.
French, Bell and Zawacki (1989), in reviewing Miles and Smuck, show the typical interventions employed in OD training. Figure 1.6, describes the OD cube and at the left problems are diagnosed by the internal/external change team.
TO ADD FIGURE 1.6
Along the diagonal edge of the cube attention is centred on forthcoming interventions. The intended intervention may be focussed on change personnel, the relationship between groups or indeed, the organisation as a whole. Generally, OD training focuses on key appointments, teams, relationships between groups, and the total organisation.
The methods of intervention which can be used are as follows:
- Training or education – Direct teaching or experience based learning.
- Process consultation – Assisting with ongoing processes and providing instruction if required.
- Confrontation – Bringing together of groups which have been out of alignment eg. persons, roles, groups.
- Data feedback – The collection of information distributed to the appropriate organisational unit(s). This can be used as the basis for accurate diagnosis, increased problem solving, and pragmatic planning.
- Problem solving – Hosting meetings and focussing on problem identification, diagnosis, and
providing solutions for intervention and implementation.
- Plan making – Redesigning the organisation’s future.
- OD task force establishment – Setting up teams of internal specialists to ensure the – organisation solves problems and carries out plans regularly.
- Technostructural activity – The adjustment of the organisation’s structure, work processes and the method of accomplishing tasks.
A typical strong O.D. action programme will involve all eight components at one time or another. To carry out intervention processes an understanding of what releases the trigger for change is required
This chapter creates a framework for further discussion as the study develops. A view of civilian organisations and their military counterparts is discussed by comparing and contrasting appropriate theories. The relevance of the OD consultant during organisational change is expounded upon. Various OD programmes and likely problems during diagnosis and the implementing stage have been discussed. The Action Research Model is selected for application to the Air Corps impending organisational restructuring process.
The rationality for military bureaucracy and associated problems with the process is critically examined.
The complexity of civilianising military management will be discussed in Chapter Two of this
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