Fundamentals and Trivia in Complex Organizational Change: a Longitudinal Inquiry into Hydro-Quebec's Management
Co-operation is the essence of an organization's existence and a key condition for its long term survival. Change efforts put co-operation to a dire test. The reason is not the change itself, but rather managers' tendency to stick to oversimplified ideas or tools, and to single-mindedly pursue their implementation. Any idea's or management tool's usefulness is time-bound, and in the course of a change, the need to maintain relevance and insure co-operation succumbs to the past usefulness of the tools at hand. Even more importantly, managers are rarely aware of the need to maintain co-operation and, lacking a stable beacon, are led adrift by the change momentum. In this paper, we use a 20 year long longitudinal study of Hydro-Quebec, one of the largest power utility in North America, to show how the process of change leads away from the need to maintain co-operation and thus emphasizes trivia. We argue that, in a major change effort, the need to maintain co-operation, rather than any other objective, should be the manager's walking stick.
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