Organizational Changes and Subsequent Conflicts

Conflict is prominent in every activity of life and prevails from time immemorial. Implementation of any activity comes across a conflict approach. In an organization, there are many factors where most of the situations lead to a conflict. This arises when a particular decision or change is to be adopted. For the survival of business in the ever-changing world, change is a must. Change differs from the multicultural workforce to technological trends that make an impact on organizational functioning. Success can be attained by the organization when it overcomes challenges and develops a workforce adaptive to the competitive environment. For the attainment of a well-acquainted organization, managers are to be trained with new demands, problems and challenges.

Organizational change may arise from the organization’s external or internal environment or from the individuals themselves. There are four factors that lead to organizational change. They are:

  1. Nature of the workforce
  2. Technology
  3. Economic factors
  4. Competition
  • Nature of the workforce: Multicultural work has arisen due to globalization wherein policies and programs are to be laid down for the effective management of a diverse workforce.
  • Technology: In the competitive business world, sophisticated information technology is adopted. Thus, computer control is prominent which resulted in the wider span of control of managers and a flat organizational structure. Multiple task workforces emerged with the replacement of individuals doing narrow, routine and specialized jobs.
  • Economic Factors: Interest rate fluctuations and foreign currency fluctuations also bring about change.
  • Competition: Traditional competitors who develop new products and new entrants with innovative offerings pose a big threat to organizations and can cause organizational change.

Sources of Resistance to Change

This can be broadly classified into individual resistance and organizational resistance.

Individual resistances are as follows:

  • Structural and group inertia
  • The limited focus of change
  • Threat to expertise
  • Threat to established power relationships
  • Threat to established resource allocation

Organizational resistance includes:

  • Habit
  • Security
  • Economic factors
  • Fear of unknown
  • Selective information processing

According to Lewin’s Three-Step Model, the organization undergoes three stages.

  1. Unfreeze status quo: Change is made very obvious to the individual, group and organization so that they will accept it without reserve. This helps to move from equilibrium and overcome individual and group conformity.
  2. Move: New attitudes, values and behaviors are discovered and adopted in this stage. During this stage, a trained agent leads individuals, groups and the entire organization. The change agent cultivates new values, attitudes and behavior.
  3. Refreeze the new change: Lock the new behavior pattern by means of a supporting or reinforcing mechanism. For a successful change process, the new pattern has to completely replace the former.

All the above resistances are the conflicts that an organization deals with from its origin till its existence. They are very common as it is one of the laws of nature.

“Organization development (OD) is a long term effort, led and supported by top management, to improve an organization’s visioning, empowerment, learning, and problem-solving processes, through an ongoing, collaborative management of the organization culture – with special emphasis on the culture of intact work teams and other team configurations – utilizing the consultant-facilitator role and the theory and technology of applied behavioral science, including action research.” (French & Bell, 1995, p.28).

Organizational development is a process that consists of three steps. They are:

  1. Diagnosis
  2. Intervention
  3. Evaluation
  • Diagnosis: This process decides the strength and weaknesses of a definite organizational development. It is done by the change agents where they collect information through different sources.
  • Intervention: It is the next step after diagnosis, OD intervention. It includes the following:
    • Process consultation: A process to know more about the functioning of the organization whether any dysfunctions occurring in areas of decision-making, handling conflicts and communication patterns.
    • Team Building: It helps in improvising teamwork and group effectiveness.
    • Techno structural activities: Helps workers to understand themselves and make changes in the task design, work methods and organization structure.
    • “Skill development: help employees identify their shortcomings and overcome their deficiencies.” (Organizational development, 2009).
    • “Third-party intervention: OD consultants help parties to resolve their differences through a technique like problem-solving and conciliation.” (Organizational development, 2009).
  • Evaluation: Organization work has to be monitored in a long-term process on a regular basis. This helps the firm in finding its loopholes and try to find an alternative for recovering it.

The above factors help in resolving the conflicts and smooth functioning of the organization. There are some popular OD techniques or interventions:

  1. Sensitivity Training: Method of changing behavior through unstructured group interactions. Free and open environment discussions of individuals directed by the professional behavioral scientists. The group is process-oriented and creates an opportunity for participants to express their ideas, beliefs and attitudes.
  2. Survey Feedback: A questionnaire is given to the employees with choices of prime important problems of the firm where they are asked to mark their choices. Then, tabulate the choices and find the appropriate solution for a problem.
  3. Process Consultation: It acts as a consultant for the client in attaining the right people for the achievement of the organization.
  4. Team Building: Utilizes high interaction, group activities to increase trust and openness among team members.
  5. Intergroup Development: It helps to change the thought of being prejudice against a particular group. This may avoid lots of misconception in the firm that helps it function smoothly.

“The essence of a strategy, and its crucial importance in any process of change or innovation, is that it embodies the ‘deliberate and conscious articulation of a direction’ (Kanter 1983:294; emphasis added).” (Clark, 1995, p.2). Successful strategies require both an overall sense of direction and a continuous adaptation to change.

Keys to manage successful organizational change and development: The environment is a significant factor in bringing about organizational change. Given the additional environmental complexities multinational organizations face, it follows that organizational change may be even more critical to them than it is to purely domestic organizations. Change is a normal and accepted part of organizational life in some cultures. In other cultures, change causes many more problems.

Take a Holistic View

Managers must take a holistic view of the organization and change project. A limited view can endanger the change effort because the subsystems of the organization are interdependent. A holistic view encompasses the culture and dominant coalition as well as the people, tasks, structure and information sub-systems.

Start small

“Peter Senge claims that every truly successful system, wide change in large organizations starts small. He recommends that change starts with one team, usually an executive team. One team can evaluate the change, make appropriate adjustments along the way, and most importantly, show that the new system works and gets desired results. If the change makes sense, it begins to spread to other teams, groups and divisions throughout the system.” (Griffin & Moorhead, 2009, p.516).

Koontz and Weihrich defined manager development as “the progress a person makes in learning how to manage.” (Koontz & Weihrich, 2006, p.263). To facilitate the process of learning, managers are given training. This is referred to as managerial training. After analyzing the needs of an organization, the requirements of the job and the individual needs for the job, an organization can choose any of the two approaches to manager development, i.e. on-the-job training or internal and external training.

As many multinational companies are pouring into developing countries like India, there always arises a conflict in the case of culture. The HR should be very well acquainted with all the forms of cultures for developing a better organization.

Victor Guerra, an executive at Prudential, commented: “We need to continually recognize that there are bright, articulate people who do not live in the home country. U.S multinationals are especially guilty of this shortsightedness. Acknowledging that talent exists and using the talent appropriately are two different issues-one idealistic and other strategic”.

Reference List

Clark, J., & Clark, J. (1995). Managing innovation and change: People, technology and strategy. SAGE.

French, W L., & Bell, C H. (1995). Organization development: Behavioral science interventions for organization improvement (5th ed.). Prentice-Hall.

Griffin, R W., & Moorhead, G. (2009). Organizational behavior: Managing people and organizations (9th ed.). Cengage Learning.

Kooontz, H., & Weihrich, H. (2006). Essentials of management (7th ed.). Tata McGraw-Hill.

Organizational development. (2009). Web.

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