HRM 09703: [The] Traditional Psychological Contract is Alive and Well: Organisational Change Management Essay, ENU, Singapore

University Edinburgh Napier University (ENU)
Subject HRM 09703: Organisational Change Management

1. “[The] traditional psychological contract is alive and well.” (Guest and Conway, 2002)

Do you agree or disagree with this statement? Give reasons for your answer, making reference to theory to support your arguments.

2. What are the main differences between management and leadership, and how can a leader influence the outcome of a proposed change?

3. “The degree of ease and success with which an organisation change is introduced is… directly proportional to the amount of choice that people feel they have in determining and implementing the change.” (Burke, 2002)

Explain how employee participation can be used to effectively manage change.

4. “The assumption that organisations can achieve planned cultural change is both intellectually flawed and practically impossible” (Ogbonna and Wilkinson, 2003).

5. Critically analyse Kirkpatrick’s seven-stage change model, in relation to theories of emergent and planned change.

6. What is a “Learning Organisation”, and how can the concept affect the management of change?

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Outline Answers to Specimen Examination Questions

Please note that these models are intended as a basic outline of what students should discuss in their answers. Students would be expected to provide a fuller discussion using appropriate references.

Model answers:

  1. Students should define the traditional psychological contract, and discuss its changing nature from relational to transactional. They should discuss the quote in the context of Davis’s research, and use writers such as Atkinson to present the alternative viewpoint. Better students will identify the data collection issues highlighted by Atkinson as a reason for the disparity in findings.
  2. Students will discuss the differences between management and leadership, in terms of deciding what needs to be done, developing the capacity to do it, and ensuring that it is done. They may refer to the Oticon video seen in class, where management is described as functioning as a ‘machine’ and leadership like a ‘brain’. Students should then discuss leadership attributes and may refer to the trait, style, and contingency theories. They can use Kotter’s model as a basis for their answer. Better students will refer to the need to create a vision for people to follow.
  3. Students will discuss participation theories such as Kirkpatrick, O’Brien, and Deetz. They will discuss top-down and bottom-up approaches and explain the advantages and disadvantages of each. They will explain how these models can be applied in order to effectively manage change (consultation with employees, gathering feedback, predicting reactions to change, etc). They may refer to Kim and Mauborgne’s ‘tipping point’ model of change to further support their arguments. Better students will be aware that full participation is not always practical and/or desirable, and will provide examples of when this may be the case (e.g. lack of skills, lack of time, simple and/or positive change).
  4. Students will provide some definitions of organisational culture (e.g. Schein, Pfeffer, Davis, Handy). They will identify the difficulties involved in changing culture, such as its embedded, taken-for-granted nature, and discuss the extent to which it is possible to change the culture at its deepest level. Schein’s model would provide a good basis for discussion here, but students may refer to other theorists. Better students may discuss the reference to planned change, by examining how culture may change organically over time. Students may also discuss the issues raised by the existence of sub-cultures within the organisation.
  5. Students should be able to discuss theories of planned and emergent change (Coram and Burnes), and refer to the critical academic debate currently occurring. They should discuss Kirkpatrick’s model in light of these theories. They will probably identify that Kirkpatrick’s model involves planning, but that there is built-in flexibility to adapt to unplanned events. However, their conclusions are less important than the way they have constructed their arguments in order to reach that point. Better students will emphasise the point that the two approaches are not mutually exclusive but instead form a continuum.
  6. Students should begin by defining the Learning Organisation. They should then discuss theories of single-, double- and triple-loop learning, and demonstrate their understanding of learning organisation theory. They should be able to link the learning organisation to the idea of being ‘change-ready’, i.e. ready to react to and even welcome change, whether planned or emergent. Better students may discuss planned versus emergent change, and may also discuss deterministic / voluntaristic approaches to managing change, and how this can be influenced by learning organisation theory.
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