Helsingin yliopisto


Helsingin yliopiston verkkojulkaisut

Helsingin yliopisto, Helsinki 2006

Toiminta, valta ja kokemus organisaation muutoksessa

Tutkimus kolmesta suuryrityksestä

Pekka Mattila

Väitöskirja, lokakuu 2006.
Helsingin yliopisto, valtiotieteellinen tiedekunta, sosiologian laitos.

Action, Power and Experience in Organizational Change - A Study of Three Major Corporations

This study explores change management and resistance to change as social activities and power displays through worker experiences in three major Finnish corporations. Two important sensitizing concepts were applied. Firstly, Richard Sennett's perspective on work in the new form of capitalism, and its shortcomings - the lack of commitment and freedom accompanied by the disruption to lifelong career planning and the feeling of job insecurity - offered a fruitful starting point for a critical study. Secondly, Michel Foucault's classical concept of power, treated as anecdotal, interactive and nonmeasurable, provided tools for analyzing change-enabling and resisting acts. The study bridges the gap between management and social sciences. The former have usually concentrated on leadership issues, best practices and goal attainment, while the latter have covered worker experiences, power relations and political conflicts.

The study was motivated by three research questions. Firstly, why people resist or support changes in their work, work environment or organization, and the kind of analyses these behavioural choices are based on. Secondly, the kind of practical forms which support for, and resistance to change take, and how people choose the different ways of acting. Thirdly, how the people involved experience and describe their own subject position and actions in changing environments. The examination focuses on practical interpretations and action descriptions given by the members of three major Finnish business organizations.

The empirical data was collected during a two-year period in the Finnish Post Corporation, the Finnish branch of Vattenfal Group, one of the leading European energy companies, and the Mehiläinen Group, the leading private medical service provider in Finland. It includes 154 non-structured thematic interviews and 309 biographies concentrating on personal experiences of change. All positions and organizational levels were represented. The analysis was conducted using the grounded theory method introduced by Straus and Corbin in three sequential phases, including open, axial and selective coding processes.

As a result, there is a hierarchical structure of categories, which is summarized in the process model of change behaviour patterns. Key ingredients are past experiences and future expectations which lead to different change relations and behavioural roles. Ultimately, they contribute to strategic and tactical choices realized as both public and hidden forms of action. The same forms of action can be used in both supporting and resisting change, and there are no specific dividing lines either between employer and employee roles or between different hierarchical positions. In general, however, it is possible to conclude that strategic choices lead more often to public forms of action, whereas tactical choices result in hidden forms.

The primary goal of the study was to provide knowledge which has practical applications in everyday business life, HR and change management. The results, therefore, are highly applicable to other organizations as well as to less change-dominated situations, whenever power relations and conflicting interests are present. A sociological thesis on classical business management issues can be of considerable value in revealing the crucial social processes behind behavioural patterns.

Keywords: change management, organizational development, organizational resistance, resistance to change, change management, labor relations, organization, leadership

The title page of the publication

Julkaisu on tekijänoikeussäännösten alainen. Teosta voi lukea ja tulostaa henkilökohtaista käyttöä varten. Käyttö kaupallisiin tarkoituksiin on kielletty.

© Helsingin yliopisto 2006

Viimeksi päivitetty 20.09.2006

Yhteystiedot, Contact information E-thesis Helsingin yliopisto, University of Helsinki