9.5 The Management of Change
As has been identified in the earlier part of this chapter, a key part of OD is the management of change. The rest of the chapter will explore the location of OD within the main and alternative approaches to the management of change. All sport organisations experience day to day fluctuations, however the discussion in this chapter generally relates to the view of change expressed by Slack and Parent (2006) i.e. change that an organisation systematically develops. They identify that change can occur in four different areas of a sport organisation: The introduction or removal of products and services offered by the organisation. Technological change in terms of production processes and the skills and methods used to deliver its services. Structural and systemic change, for example staffing structures. People, with regard to how people think and behave.
(Slack and Parent 2006:239-240)
These changes are caused by external factors, such as economic and political conditions, and to some extent internal factors such as the ageing of material resources and human resources, in terms of people and their skills and abilities (Mullins 2007). A key task for sport managers is to identify the most appropriate changes and implement them. There are two main approaches to organisational change. This chapter will review them both in relation to sport.
9.51 Planned Change
Burnes (2009:600) distinguishes planned change from other approaches in terms of being “… consciously embarked on and planned by an organisation as opposed to types of change that might come by accident, impulse or forced on the organization”. Planned change is most closely aligned with OD. Accordingly, planned change focuses on change at a group level and factors such as group norms, roles, interactions and socialisation processes and how they create disequilibrium and change (Burnes 2009). As with OD, Lewin was a key architect in developing models of planned change of which his three step model of change lies at the core. Step 1: Unfreezing – as Figure 10.1. illustrates, the belief underpinning this model is that human behaviour is in a quasi stable equilibrium that is supported by a complexity of driving
and restraining forces.
Figure 10.1. Equilibrium of human behavior and the forces of change.
For change to occur this equilibrium needs to be destabilized by reducing the restraining or driving forces that maintain current behaviour so that current behavior becomes redundant and new behaviour is enable to be adopted (Burne 2004). This enabling process takes into account the threats people may feel so that psychological safety is created in the new state of equilibrium (Schein 1996). Step 2: Moving involves the implementation of the change through the development of new attitudes and behavior. However, due to the complexity of the forces at work it is difficult to control the direction of change. Therefore it is important to undertake a learning approach, inherent in action research, that takes an “iterative approach of research, action and more research that enables groups and individuals to move from a less acceptable to a more acceptable set of behaviours” (Burnes 2009:339). Step 3: Refreezing – aims to stabilize the new behaviours and lock in the changes so a new equilibrium is attained this may need to be supported through changes in organizational policies structures and norms (Mullins 2007:736). An example of how Lewin’s model could be applied to sport organisations is increasing diversity within the workforce. According to Sport England (2010) this is perceived to be a key issue for sport organisations. The freezing stage would require both individuals and groups to identifying possible diversity issues within the organization. This would need to be supplemented by a moral and business justification for ensuring the workforce is diverse. Positive movement forward would involve diversity training and education, including addressing any individual concerns people may have. Refreezing would ensure that policies and procedures, in addition to training, would support a change in organisational culture with regard to diversity. A key issue that Cameron and Green (2004:99) warn against is using the model purely as a tool for planning change, rather than an organisational development process.
“The unfreeze becomes a planning session. The move translates to implementation. The refreeze is a post-implementation review. This approach
ignores the fundamental assumption of the organism metaphor that groups of people will change only if there is a felt need to do so. The change process can then turn into an ill-thought-out plan that does not tackle resistance and fails to harness the energy of the key players.”
A criticism of Lewin’s model has been that the three steps are relatively broad. Consequently, a number of authors have built on his model by expanding the numbers of steps or phases (Arnold et al. 2005). These include Bullock and Batton’s (1985) four phase model and Cummings and Huse’s (1989) eight phase model. However, a major criticism is that planned change models are not appropriate for change situations where there is complex, dynamic and coercive change (Arnold et al. 2005). Moreover, the models tend to oversimplify the decisions and choices managers make during a period of change (Carnall 2007). An alternative to planned change is the emergent approach to change.
9.52 Emergent Approach to Change
The emergent change approach does not involve an agreed set of methods and techniques and does not form a coherent group of theories and models. Instead, “it tends to be distinguished by a common disbelief in the efficacy of planned change” (Burnes, 2009:366 ). However, Burnes (2009:368) does identify the key themes of the emergent change approaches which are outlined below:
Stresses the developing and unpredictable nature of change;
Change is a process that unfolds through the interplay of multiple variables (context, political process and consultation) within an organisation. Processional approach – views organisation’s members as shifting coalitions
Emergent change has been the main approach used in the study of sport organisations. However as already identified, the concept of emergent change utilises a range of models and theories which will now be further developed within the chapter.
9.53 Processual/Contextual Theory
These theoretical approaches to change have dominated since the 1990’s. They contrast with the more linear and planned approaches to change by, instead, suggesting that far from logical and predictable, change can be much more messy. Hyczynski and Buchanan (2007:606) use a cocktail analogy to describe how more emergent approaches to change are seen as:
“rational decisions, mixed with competing individual perceptions, stimulated by visionary leadership, spiced with ‘power plays’ and attempts to recruit support and build coalition behind particular ideas”.
Two key theorists are Andrew Pettigrew and Patrick Dawson. Dawson (2003) argues that, although it is useful to identify the tasks and decision making underpinning the change process, it is important not to treat those as sequential stages as exemplified by Lewin’s 3 Step Model. Dawson (2003:42) argues that those stages interlock and overlap in that “organisations continuously move in and out of different states, often concurrently”. In developing his framework for analysing change he has attempted to develop an approach that can cope with the complexity but is still uncluttered and practical. Consequently his three categories are:
the initial conception of a need to change caused either by forces internal or external to the organisation. the process of organisational change, which Dawson (2003:42) describes as a “complex non-linear and ‘black box’ process of organizational change” which will include a range of tasks, activities and decisions. operation of new work practices and procedures. It is during these early stages where conflict and uncertainty may emerge as employees’ adapt or redefine their positions in relation to new practices and new patterns of relationships. Moreover, relatively stable systems may begin to emerge and at this point the outcomes of the change can be reviewed against the former operating system. Although Dawson (2003) warns against seeing this as an endpoint as the change process is ongoing.
Dawson (2003) also advocates that the ‘black box’ of the process of change should be analysed as it happens in terms of three groups of determinants:
politics of change – an understanding of organisational politics is crucial in analysing change. context of change – an understanding of the historical context of past and present external and internal operating environments and organisational culture may explain why certain change options are promoted whilst others are devalued. substance of change – which takes into account:
the scale and scope of the change
defining characteristics of the change
perceived centrality – how central is the change to the survival of the organisation.
The notion of the historical content of change combined with an understanding of organisational politics is highlighted in Gilmore and Gilson’s (2007) research into change management at Bolton Wanderers Football Club. Bolton is one of the oldest football clubs in Britain but it had experienced decline, falling into what is now the 2nd division (formerly the fourth division) in the late 1980s. It then emerged from this “relative obscurity to become a premiership side capable of challenging the elite English clubs within the Premier League” (Gilmore and Gilson’s 2007:410); consequently it provided an opportunity to examine how that change occurred.
A key finding of the case study was the centrality of history in the management of change at Bolton. In 1999 the club appointed Sam Allardyce as manager to lead the club’s return to higher league football i.e. the Premiership. Allardyce was a former player and it was felt that he provided a link between the past, present and future. The importance of this with regard to change is explained by Gilmore and Gilson (2007:417):
“Crucially, however, the manager and club chairman were also adept at respecting the club’s historic way of working. This manifested itself in the important principle of autonomy and responsibility between administration and the football side of the business. In many football clubs, chairmen are notorious for their interference in all aspects of the game, from team selection and tactics to transfer decisions. The continued tradition of
autonomy of operation that exists at Bolton was and remains a critical factor in the club’s ability to thrive in an overtly hostile environment: Bolton’s always believed … that you don’t interfere in the football. You let the manager manage – give him a budget and you try and work within that budget, but you don’t interfere with the running of the football. And I’ve never seen any success come out of operating in another way (Vice Chairman, Brett Warburton)”. The Bolton case also illustrates Pettigrew (1985) and Dawson’s (2003) view that organisations’ experience change and continuity concurrently, as Gilmore and Gilson (2007:412) state: “even when major change events occur the ongoing nature of organizational life is still largely evident creating a simultaneous sense of connectedness through time”. This was manifested at Bolton by its short term reaction to inflated transfer markets by signing players in the twilight of their careers, plus their focus on ensuring that staff continue to promote innovation through their application of sport science. Alongside this Bolton employed a long term approach through the development of young players in the academy. This served the joint purpose of servicing the first team squad whilst generating additional revenue through the sale of players to other clubs.
Huczynski and Buchanan (2007) have identified that the strengths of the processual/contextual approach to change are its recognition of the complexity of change and that it is a process with a past, present and future. However, they also identify three limitations, the second of which obviously contrasts with the values of OD:
1. Change may be presented as over-complex and overwhelmingly confusing and therefore unmanageable. 2. The people involved within the change process are sometimes portrayed as minor characters in a broad sequence of events, relegated to the role of pawns controlled by social and organisational forces rather than proactive ‘movers and shakers’. 3. There is a lack of practical recommendations beyond generalised advice such as ‘recognise complexity’ and ‘think processually’. (Huczynski and Buchanan 2007:609)
9.54 Other Approaches to Change
Two other approaches to change that have been applied to sport organisations
are Institutional Theory and the Evolution and Revolution approach. Institutional theorists, such as Meyer and Scott (1983) suggest that organisations “change their formal structure to conform with expectations within their institutional environment about appropriate organisational design” (cited by Slack and Parent 2006:242). This approach has been used to examine the structural features and institutionalised pressures for change in Canadian National Sports Organisations (Smith et al. 2005).
The Canadian studies also used the Evolution and Revolution approach to examine sport organisations. Theorists using this approach assume that organisations resist change and will continue as they are, even when there is a possibility of failure (Slack and Parent 2006). Slack and Parent (2006) explain that a consequence is that the prevailing organisational condition is momentum, which is the organisation’s propensity to continue with its existing structure. Where organisations make incremental changes to their structures, strategy or processes this is termed evolutionary change. Where a major upheaval or crisis is experienced then revolutionary change occurs, in that an organisation will change from one structure to another.
In their investigation of competing change management theories in relation to sport organisations in Australia, Smith et al. (2005:116) found that evolutionary models provided a significant explanation of incremental change at an industry level but did not acknowledge “internal management initiatives as catalysts for change”. Moreover they found that Revolution theories “clarify the consequences of quantum, industry-wide change, but do so at the expense of elucidating the role of individual organisations”.
The previous discussion of key change management approaches and theories serves to illustrate a variety of views on the area. Both Smith et al. (2005) and Slack and Parent (2006:253) view this as a positive, with Slack and Parent (2006:253) suggesting that the diversity of change theories provides “considerable potential for the study of sport organisations”, whilst Smith et al. (2005:117) reject the notion of “uni-dimensional or one-model explanations as comprehensive change theories”.
9.55 Resistance to change
It is important to recognise that change is viewed by people both positively and negatively. For some it provides an opportunity to be challenged, develop themselves and create new systems, processes and services. For others change means a loss of familiarity and a movement into the unknown. The latter creates resistance to change, where individuals or groups may engage in behaviours that are aimed at disrupting or even blocking the change.
Concept Check: Resistance to Change
Resistance to change: an inability, or an unwillingness to accept changes that are perceived to be damaging or threatening to an individual (Hyczynski and Buchanan 2007:598)
Daniels (2010:2) identifies two broad types of resistance:
Resistance to the content of the change – for example the introduction of a new technology, such as FIFA’s resistance to goal line technology. Resistance to the process of change, which relates to concerns about how change is being introduced, for example an organisational restructure which has not involved consultation with employees. Again FIFA provide a useful example of this with their attitude towards the bidding and decision making process of allocating the World Cup tournament to host countries.
Bedeian (1980) has proposed four common causes of resistance to change:
Parochial Self Interest: Change may threaten an individual or groups’ interests in terms of power, status, security or may simple be inconvenient. In this situation people think of their own self interest rather than that of the organisation. An example is horse racing in the UK, where race courses are considering selling the television rights to the sport’s biggest events as a single, maximum-value package from 2013 (Wood 2010). The notion of self interest is reflected in Wood’s (2010:9) comment below and the piece also reflects the multiple stakeholders in sport organisations and their impact on change.
“What everyone will ask, of course, if this plan ever reaches the stage of a yes-or-no decision, is: what’s my slice? Owners, for instance, will want guarantees about the amount of the television money to be returned to them in prize money. Tracks outside the elite will want to know how – or whether – their revenues will be protected. Jockeys who will be the public face of a “premier league” sport may decide that they deserve ‘premier league’ wages.”
Misunderstanding and lack of trust: if there has not been a clear explanation of the reason for the change, how it is to be carried out and its consequences, then this will create uncertainty. Additionally, if there is a lack of trust between managers and employees then managers may withhold/distort information and/or employees may not believe managers.
Contradictory Assessments: people’s personal values will impact on whether they perceive change positively or negatively. Hence it may be seen as a challenge or as a threat. However, having different views on change may actually create constructive criticism which may lead to the change and its implementation being more effective (Hyczynski and Buchanan 2007)
Low tolerance for change: Individuals have different levels of tolerance for uncertainty and ambiguity. Hyczynski and Buchanan (2007) suggest that a response to change may be self doubt, in terms of an individual’s belief in whether they can develop a new skill or the behaviour that may be required with the change.
Change at the Amateur Athletics Association of England
In 1880, the Amateur Athletic Association (AAA) came into being as the controlling power of track and field in England. At this time, there was significant resistance to change with regard to the fight to keep athletics as the sole preserve of the so-called ‘gentleman amateur’. Ultimately, however, the rule precluding ‘mechanics, artisans and labourers’ from open competition was rescinded. In 2006, a century and a quarter later, the AAA
of England have relinquished their jurisdiction in the face of opposition from a group of clubs fighting against a perceived lack of ‘democracy and accountability’ in the proposed new English association, under the umbrella of UK Athletics, the overall governing body of athletics in Britain. The creation of England Athletics has resulted from the review into the modernisation of the sport in the UK (The Foster Report). The project to implement the recommendations has been led by Jack Buckner, former European 5,000m champion and double AAA champion. Adoption of the modernising proposals was a condition for the release of £41 million of government funding.
The 1,400 athletics clubs in Britain had until 25 October 2005 to respond to a poll about the proposals and an automatic transference of power was on the agenda of an extraordinary meeting of the AAA of England that was scheduled for 29th October.
The Association of Great Britain Athletic Clubs (ABAC) attempted to affect a turning of the tide. Formed in April 2005, specifically to oppose the changes, its 120 plus members were unhappy about the direction of UK Athletics, the planned displacement of the AAA of England and about several aspects of the proposals, chiefly the introduction of regional councils in which elected club officials would have ‘a majority’ but also include paid officers of England Athletics who are answerable to a national council and, in turn, to UK Athletics. ‘We do accept the need to change,’ one ABAC committee member said, ‘but that doesn’t have to involve so much sacrifice of democratic control and such a leap into the financial unknown. We don’t feel the new body is sufficiently accountable to the clubs, who at the current time are the guardians of the sport, the custodians. We’re not resistant to change. We’re resistant to this change being imposed on us by a body that’s got so little credibility in what it has achieved in the time it’s been at the helm. Under UK Athletics, the sport has deteriorated alarmingly in standard of performance and in numbers.’ Buckner spent 12 months travelling the country consulting with those involved in grass roots athletics and has found ‘a huge level of frustration’ among clubs about the ‘managerial-driven’ approach of UK Athletics. He states that ‘What we’ve
tried to do is strike a balance and we’ve ended up with proposals similar to those made by the AAA two or three years ago. It’s nothing revolutionary’.
Summarised from Turnball, S. (2005)
Using both Daniel’s (2010) two broad types of resistance and Bedeian’s (1980) framework, what were the possible causes of resistance to change within English athletics at that time?
9.6 Managing Resistance
One of the most cited approaches for managing resistance to change in sport organisations is Kotter and Schlesinger’s (2008) framework (Slack and Parent 2006). They identify six techniques that can be used. 1. Education and commitment: where resistance to change is based on misunderstanding then this can be addressed by providing more information through the use of training, group meetings, and written communication. However this approach is only effective if there is trust between those involved. 2. Participation and involvement: if those who potentially could resist change are involved in aspects of the planning and implementation of change then their resistance could not only avoid conflict but has the potential to foster future commitment. Participation could be a benefit where the change initiator does not feel that they have complete information in order to make appropriate changes. However it is a time consuming approach. 3. Facilitation and support: this could include training, allowing time off after a period of hard work due to the change or just providing emotional support. This is particularly effective where the resistance to change is due to fear and anxiety. However this can be time consuming and expensive. 4. Negotiation and agreement: is where incentives are offered, particularly where it is clear that some people are going to lose out due to the change and that they have the power to derail the change. Obviously this may be an expensive option. 5. Manipulation and co-option: involves “the very selective use of information and the conscious structuring of events (Kotter and Schlesinger 2008:136). An example of manipulation is co-option where one of the key leaders of resistance is given a key role in the change process.
This differs from participation as it is about endorsement from that individual rather than advice. Although it is a quick solution it can lead to problems further down the line if that person realizes that they have been manipulated. 6. Explicit and implicit coercion: change is forced through explicitly or implicitly threatening people, e.g. through potential job losses. This is a risky approach as people will resent being coerced. However it is sometimes the only option where speed is required and it is likely that the change will not be popular however it is presented. In deciding which is the best strategy to use, change initiators must take into account the speed of change needed and key situational variables such as: Amount and kind of resistance anticipated
The position of the initiator vis–à-vis the resisters, especially with regard to power The person who has the relevant data for designing the change and the energy for implementing it; The stakes involved
(Kotter and Schleslinger 2008:138-139).
9.6 Summary & Conclusion
This chapter has provided an overview of OD and how it may be relevant to sport organisations. It has also examined organisational change and the key theories that have been used to manage change within sport organisations; including selected approaches to managing resistance to change. Within this section it noted that OD has traditionally been associated with planned approaches to change, although it is important to acknowledge that OD has developed over the last half century to recognise the complexity of organisations. As Garrow and Varney (2009:30) state, OD practitioners are now, “talking about working with emergent (some call it “improvisational”) change; this means establishing a direction for change and working in a way that is responsive and adapts to fluctuations in the real world”.
However, a key feature of OD continues to be its underpinning humanistic values. This is important to sport organisations who should respond to the impetus to change by thinking through the consequences with respect to the both internal staff and external stakeholders.