Reflections: In praise of silent transformation: Allowing change through ‘letting happen’

Chia, R. (2014) Reflections: In praise of silent transformation: Allowing change through ‘letting happen’. Journal of Change Management, 14(1), pp. 8-27. (doi:10.1080/14697017.2013.841006)

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Change is a ubiquitous notion that fascinates and frustrates. The starting point for most attempts at theorizing change begins with the philosophical assumption that stability and equilibrium are fundamental features of reality. Organizational change, therefore, is construed as something exceptional requiring active intervention on the part of actors. Change has to be carefully ‘managed’ because it is something made to happen to or within an ‘organization’. This, however, is not the only way of understanding organizational change. From an alternative process-philosophical outlook, all of reality is change so that it is the phenomenon of organization itself that is a remarkable achievement. From this process outlook, ‘organizations’ are nothing more than stabilized patterns of relations forged out of an underlying sea of ceaseless change. In this paper, I make a distinction between ‘owned’ and ‘unowned’ processes of change. I show that acknowledging the pervasive presence of ‘unowned’ change processes leads to the adoption of a more benign approach to managing change; one in which ‘letting happen’ take precedence over active intervention. Managing change then is more about small, timely and quiet insertions made to release the immanent forces of change always already present in every organizational situation. Change then appears unexceptionally as a naturally occurring phenomenon; it does not attract undue attention and does not generate unnecessary anxieties. Obliqueness of engagement is key to managing sustainable change in a world that is itself ever-changing.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Chia, Professor Robert
Authors: Chia, R.
College/School:College of Social Sciences > Adam Smith Business School > Management
Journal Name:Journal of Change Management
Publisher:Taylor & Francis (Routledge)
ISSN (Online):1479-1811

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