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Organizational Change: Creating Change Through Strategic Communication by Laurie K. Lewis

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1

Defining Organizational Change

To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often

Winston Churchill

Life is change. Growth is optional. Choose wisely

Unknown

Wisdom lies neither in fixity nor in change, but in the dialectic between the two

Octavio Paz, Mexican poet and essayist

As these opening quotations hint, change is often considered a sign of progress and improvement. Partly owing to a cultural value, organizations are under extreme pressure to constantly change. Zorn, Christensen, and Cheney (1999) make the case that “change for change's sake” (p. 4) has been glorified to an extent that it has become managerial fashion for stakeholders to constantly change their organizations. If it isn't new, it cannot be good. If we aren't changing, we must be stagnant. If we don't have the latest, we must be falling behind. If we aren't improving, we must be inadequate. These scholars go on to argue that the cultural and market pressures that demand constant change in competitive organizations can lead to disastrous outcomes including adoption of changes that are not suited to the goals of the organization; illconsidered timing of change; dysfunctional human resource management practices; exhaustion from repetitive cycles of change; and loss of benefits of stability and consistency. It appears that this faddish behavior, like becoming slaves to any fashion, can lead to poor decision-making and poor use of resources.

Communication plays a critical role in fostering the fad of change ...

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