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Theoretical Perspectives on Organizational Change

1) Identify the two, different, theoretical perspectives (ontologies or world-views) used in this subject, which underpin how we understand organisational change, and explain and critically discuss their key ideas and features, drawing from the topic materials (overview, textbook, the required academic readings and online meeting material) provided and from your wider reading. Go on to write two different definitions of organisational change, one based upon the first theoretical perspective (ontology) discussed above, and the second based on the other theoretical perspective (ontology) discusssed above. Briefly explain the link between each definition and its underlying theoretical perspective.

2) Using an organisation that you are familiar with (you may use information in the public domain, i.e. from organisational websites and other forms of media to assist you):

a) Briefly introduce the organisation


b) Identify and describe a change that is happening, or has previously happened, within it (including what the change is, how it is implemented, who the change agent'/s are, who is involvedand how, and how employees are engaged and  affected).

c) Go on to explain how your definitions (from Question 1 above) related to the change occurring in this organisation. (c.650 words in total).

Please note: In selecting a suitable organisation you will need to ensure that you can access the required relevant information about the organisation to be able to answer the above questions.

3) a) Draw up a SWOT analysis, as a table, to assess what has caused the need for the organisational change which you identified in question 2 above, then explain, discuss and integrate your analysis, including a conclusion that summarise the current state of the business and connects this to why the change was (or is being) implemented.

b) Then, in your own words, (but using references to support you) identify and critically evaluate the benefits and drawbacks (from both the objectivist and social constructionist perspectives) of using business SWOT analyses in general to determine the need for organisations to change. 

4) Using the subject materials (overview, textbook, required readings, online meeting material), as well as your wider reading, identify, explain and critically assess the key conceptualisations and ideas about of role of the change agent (that are relevant to your case), and then apply this analysis specifcally to the change in organisation described above. 

5) Using the subject materials (topic overview, textbook, relevant required readings and material from online meetings) as well as your wider reading, define and critically discuss both problem-centric and dialogic approaches to change. Briefly identify which theoretical ontology of organisational change (which you discussed in question 1) underpins each. Critically assess the benefits and drawbacks of each of these approaches to change management. Go on to identify which of these approaches you would prefer to use to manage the change you identified in 2a and explain why

Theoretical Perspectives on Organizational Change

Ontologies and world-views are two different philosophical views of looking at the organizational change. Ontology occurs through a systematic approach and is felt by every associated member. This means that organizations will undergo a change in a systematic way from the ontology views. A systematic move may include many such as encouraging a learning environment before reaching to a planned strategy. This can be done through training & development process. On the other hand, world-view is related to an individual’s way of looking at the world. This will entertain the traditional and the cultural background of the individual. Decision made by the CEO of an organization is the one example of the world-view of organizational change (Hayes, 2014).

Both the theories provide different key ideas in context to the organizational change. An ontological view is a continuous process that lasts for a significant time span. The perspective attracts the involvement of different groups; however, they may have different roles to play. This will indeed attract the valued contribution of employees as well as the middle and the top managers. The ontological view is useful in some situations. On the other hand, this may fall flat in situations where instant decision making is required (Muzio, Brock & Suddaby, 2013).

A world-view is different to the ontology in its orientation. It is rather an individual process. A single person may take the sudden decision. This will involve the higher positions such as the company’s CEO and the top managers. This is required sometimes when there is a need to take some real decision on changing the organizational hierarchy. The change of leadership is one of such examples (Muzio, Brock & Suddaby, 2013).  

From the ontological point of views, Organizational change can be defined as a collective process where different levels of the organization are involved in the change management process. All the members to support the change process by being at their position and encouraging the change through their contributions as well (Muzio, Brock & Suddaby, 2013).

The world-view perspective of organizational change can be defined as an individually oriented process where an urgent decision is made based on some facts. The decision may look like as a sudden announcement; however, this also goes through some process. However, the process is different to the process involved in the ontological perspective of organizational change. The continuous process in world-view is restricted only to the top managers where they conduct several meetings on a particular agenda to reach to a conclusion (Muzio, Brock & Suddaby, 2013).

Definitions of Organizational Change based on Ontology and World View

There is a link in between the two different perspectives. They share common values in terms of getting the needed change to the organization. However, both the perspectives have a very different approach to bring the felt change. World-view encourages the making of a sudden decision whereas ontology is related to a continued process towards the desired change (Langley et al., 2013).

The underlying theoretical perspective between the two different views is to bring a much-needed change in the organization (Langley et al., 2013).  

Telstra is the largest telecommunication company in Australia. It builds the different types of telecommunication devices such as fixed line, mobile & others and provides the broadband services. The era of David Thodey (CEO) from 1010 to 2015 had witnessed notable changes in the company in terms of sales and customer service. They are now more focused on proving the utmost customer service. To enhance the customer service standard, the company introduced the live chat facilities in 2011. The service enabled live chat facilities to its customers. The service was a huge success and registered a whopping growth of 600% until 2013. This was indeed a very interesting move, which helped its customers to come closer to Telstra. This was also beneficial for the company as Telstra will now have a much better understanding of customer’s issues. Interestingly, the move has helped to reduce the number of complaints. There was a significant drop in the number of complaints from 2010 to 2015 (Telstra.com.au, 2017).

The change is about to happen in Telstra. The proposed change is another step towards bettering its customer service standard. They are in plan to enhance their broadband service efficiency through expanding its internet network. The company will invest $36 billion to improve its broadband service at the national level. However, the proposed goal will need some change in the organization. The company in the leadership of David Thodey has planned some structural change, which will comprise hiring of few experts such as the appointment of chief customer officer Gordon Ballantyne (Austlii.edu.au, 2017).

The appointment of chief customer officer will integrate sales & service into one single unit. An Applications and Ventures Group will also be created. This will be headed by Deena Shiff. The purpose of the investment is to enlarge the broadband network in the country. The CEO has confirmed that the initiatives that will be taken and the appointments that have been made are in line with the long-term strategy of Telstra. The long-term strategy of David Thodey is to improve the customer service standard of Telstra. The move will prove their thought process true (Austlii.edu.au, 2017).

SWOT Analysis of Telstra

The move follows the recent deal between the Telstra and the NBN Co. The deal had attracted an $11bn investment. The CEO David Thodey is making successive investments to improve the internet service network of Telstra and to enhance its customer service standard. The appointment of chief customer officer is indeed a very bold move. This will change the number of people who are on the board of directors group (Austlii.edu.au, 2017).

The identified change process in Telstra looks relevant to both theoretical perspectives such as Ontology and World-view. It is similar to Ontology as this will follow along continuous process of network set up throughout the entire country. The setup process does not happen at just one go. It rather requires a large number of workforces, which will be used to install the network in the planned area. Additionally, they require a brief training on the needs work needs. In this regards, it rather shows its orientation with the ontological views of organizational change (Vogel & Güttel, 2013). It is very much relevant to the world-view as CEO David Thodey is responsible for the decision. The CEO has taken a decision, which will now be helped by the others in order to fulfill the needs. The CEO requires the support of additional staffs that will be needed to commence the network expansion project (MacKay & Chia, 2013).

Strengths 

· It is Australia’s leading provider of telecommunication services (Austlii.edu.au, 2017)

· The company has an extensive range of Service Portfolio

· Over 35,000 employees are serving their contribution through their different roles and from in different countries  (Austlii.edu.au, 2017)

Weaknesses 

· It has a very limited liquidity position

· The competition is much stiffer that will affect its market shares (Accc.gov.au, 2017)

· It has been affected from customer service related escalations in past. This is why the company is now much focused on enhancing its customer service standard (Accc.gov.au, 2017)

Opportunities 

· Expansion is always there in the telecommunication sector (Accc.gov.au, 2017)

· The growing IT Services Market is an enhanced opportunity

· The launch of 4G network will help to increase the customer base. This is indeed a growing industry where customer base is expected to be affected with the inception of every new technology in broadband service (Accc.gov.au, 2017)

Threats 

· Rapid technological change can be a threat

· Strict regulations of governing body is another threat that directly hampers the cost-effectiveness that is a key to success in the telecommunicating industry (Communications.gov.au, 2017)

· Numbers of customers are increasing for broadband and other mobile services, which will make things tougher. This is because some companies will go to select a cost-effective approach or vice-versa (Communications.gov.au, 2017)

 

Table 1: SWOT Analysis of Telstra

(Source: created by author)

The SWOT analysis of Telstra has produced some useful points that support the expansion target of the company. The company has been affected from the outage issue in the past. The outage issue can be because of various reasons. However, an expansion of network will mean that they are into a safe hand. Rightly so, the move will be facilitated with the help from NBN Co., which is an owned company of Federal Government. The company will help Telstra to roll out the panned network line through the entire nation. The move is expected not to provide solutions only for expansion of broadband network but this will also ensure a quality service. The deal will move in collaboration with the governing body. Hence, there will be a close scrutiny on the network coverage. Additionally, there will be some relaxations as well such as the relaxation of costs. Telstra will be able to get the required cables from NBN Co. This is enough support to produce a cost-effective performance (Nbnco.com.au, 2017).

Benefits and drawbacks of using SWOT analysis for change management

The change that is happening to Telstra may be a beneficial move for the company. This is so because it will help to reach to a much wider customer base. Additionally, an improved customer service is also expected as the expansion will be brought in collaboration to the NBN Co., which is a Federal Government owned company. However, the company needs to continually focus on some more innovative strategies to enhance the level of customer service (Baden-Fuller & Haefliger, 2013).

The need to change is probably identified based on the results of SWOT analysis. This helps to know the weaknesses that a specific company has and is causing it to be less effective in a specific external environment. In such circumstances, a change is felt as a solution to mitigate the identified weaknesses and threats. They view this as an opportunity to mitigate the threats and enhance their competitiveness. However, this may have some drawbacks as well as the benefits. The intended change may or may not necessarily bring the desired result. This could well be understood from the perspectives of objectivist and social constructionist (Sutherland, Fine & Ashbourne, 2013).

Objectivist believes in creating something. It does not believe in what is made to believe. More specifically, it believes in developing thoughts with the help of creation based on individual capability. This perspective is in favor of the benefits that have been felt by Telstra through its SWOT analysis. This is so because the perspective believes in creating something based on the evidence. However, social constructionist, on the other hand, believes in created things. It does not believe in looking for the requirement to change. More precisely, it does not advocate the importance giving efforts to find the necessity of creation. According to this perspective, the decision of Telstra to go for an expansion based on the SWOT analysis may prove to be a loss to it (Taghipour, 2014).

There are different roles that a change agent plays in an organizational change process. It investigates the supportive environment prior to the change process. This helps to progress with high chances of success. This will also help to analyze what resources are required for this change to get effective. Advocacy is also required for an effective change management process. This must be from an individual who can effectively communicate the needs for change. Moreover, this will help the others to integrate with the process. Encouragement is another role of a change agent that used to encourage the others who are being involved in the change management process. Facilitation is another very important characteristic of a change agent. Through this role, the change agent helps others in the process. The support can come in various ways such as through some encouraging words such as the appreciation words or else (An, 2012).

Role of Change Agent in Organizational Change

Mediation is another very important characteristic that will try to resolve any conflict. This is required indeed as conflicting thoughts are bound to happen in a change management process. Change agent also plays the role of an advice that encourages it to rely on the expertise. This is indeed required as a change management process cannot just happen without a prior dedication from the experts in different domains. Management is one of the roles of a change agent that keeps a good track of everything such as the set objectives of the project. The change agent will ensure that everything is happening as planned (An, 2012).

A change agent is anyone who is responsible for the change process. The proposed change process in Telstra is largely the creation of its CEO David Thodey. The one man is involved in several changes that have been brought to the company in his era. In between the 2010-2015, the company has been able to lift its standard of customer service. There have been escalations for its customer service standard in past. The company has been criticized on notable occasions for network outage in past (News.com.au, 2017). The needs to expand its network may prove to be a good move for the company. The proposed expansion will allow Telstra to work with NBN Co., which is a federal government-owned company. The proposed change will not only help it to expand its network but this will also help to provide a much better service to the customers. The change will be brought by its collaborative work with the NBN Co. This will help it to get the cable lines, which will effectively help to reduce the cost of service (Theaustralian.com.au, 2017). The selection of chief customer officer is an initiation of a new business unit that will be run by a one department Customer Sales and Service. This means that the change will enhance its focus on both the sales and the post-sales service.

The CEO David Thodey needs to follow the different roles of change agent to ensure a potential progress of the plan. The CEO has already investigated the available resources through the SWOT analysis and has identified the needs to change. The first step in this change process is to hire Gordon Ballantyne as a chief customer officer. The CEO has planned to integrate the two different segments into a single business unit Customer Sales and Service. David Thodey will now require playing the role of mediator when there is a requirement. This will help to mitigate any conflicts if it is there. The CEO will also need to encourage the different staffs that will be associated with this change management process. This is required to reduce the rate of attrition, which is critical to such projects. Facilitation will be another key for the CEO as this will help to relate to everybody who is contributing to the change process. This will help to understand the possible issues at the different levels. This will also encourage the CEO to provide necessary support to the identified needs (Mitchell, 2013).

Problem-Centric and Dialogic Approaches to Change

There are two approaches to organizational change dialogic and problem-centric. Dialogic approaches to organizational change can be defined as a culture that is part of the specific organization. This means the organizations, which have their cultures to undergo changes at the different point in time. Problem-centric approaches for organizational change are different in its orientation. Such approach encourages the change process-centric to a highlighted problem (Jacobs, van Witteloostuijn & Christe-Zeyse, 2013).

Dialogic approaches may draw some benefits and drawbacks as well. This will bring beneficial aspects to those organizations that are strategically organized. They will be able to tackle the challenges. However, those that are not organized might not be able to mitigate the challenges. Nevertheless, a change process requires a clear understanding of the different resource capabilities. Every organization does not have a clear analysis of their resource capabilities. In such few cases, the dialogic approach might not live up to the expectations (Jacobs, van Witteloostuijn & Christe-Zeyse, 2013).

On the other hand, a problem-centric approach is much familiar to many organizations. They proceed towards the change process after identifying the needs for that. This will indeed help to resolve the identified problem. However, this might also be problematic to few other organizations. They might not be able to identify the resources that will serve the purpose. An unorganized progress in such a way could be a loss in varied ways. This could become responsible for losses such as the human, the physical and the financial resources (Jacobs, van Witteloostuijn & Christe-Zeyse, 2013).  

The two theoretical perspectives discussed in question 1 are Ontological and the World-view. Both the theories have a common relation with the two approaches of change. The ontological perspective underpins the problem-centric approach. The ontological perspective is in the favor of creating something when the need is felt. The problem-centric approach preaches the process of bringing change after identifying a problem. This means the creation of a stage where the identified problem will no longer exist (Jacobs, van Witteloostuijn & Christe-Zeyse, 2013).

The world-view underpins dialogic approach. The world-view is a process of looking at things from an individual's perspectives. It does not have the involvement of others in the decision-making process. The dialogic approach preaches the same by recognizing the change process as a part of an organizational culture. The dialogic approach is related to organizational culture. The world-view can also be recognized as a part of an organizational culture (Jacobs, van Witteloostuijn & Christe-Zeyse, 2013).  

Preference for a Change Management Approach

Dialogic Approach

Problem-Centric Approach

Benefits 

· The impact of all that is involved is considered

· The communication is constant and comprehensive throughout the process

· There is very little place for corruption

· Action process is comparatively quicker

· Change process is predictable and are understood by the stakeholders

Drawbacks 

· There are risks for inaccurate information

· The action period takes a little longer to happen

· Change process is not very clearly understood by the stakeholders

· It cannot measure the impact of change on the organizational culture or the human resources

· It does not involve any appreciable inquiry of relevant skills in stakeholders

· Communication does not happen through the planning process

 

Table 2: Comparing Dialogic and Problem-Centric Approach

(Source: Jacobs, van Witteloostuijn & Christe-Zeyse, 2013)

The required change in Telstra can be managed efficiently through the use of the problem-centric approach. This is so because the approach encourages a predictable progress to the stakeholders. Moreover, they will be certain of their roles & responsibilities in the proposed change process. Additionally, the required data will be less prone to corruption. This will help to get genuine outcomes. However, Telstra needs to work in some field to make it an even more successful process. They need to select an appropriate number of human resources in order to get the desired output. A healthy communication is also required throughout the change process. Moreover, a clear idea of its impact on the people and the organizational culture is also required (Jacobs, van Witteloostuijn & Christe-Zeyse, 2013).  

References-

An, L. (2012). Modeling human decisions in coupled human and natural systems: review of agent-based models. Ecological Modelling, 229, 25-36. [10.1109/PADS.2008.13]

Austlii.edu.au (2017). The return of public investment in telecommunications: Assessing the early challenges of the national broadband network policy in Australia. [online] Austlii.edu.au. Available at: https://www5.austlii.edu.au/au/journals/UTSLRS/2012/33.pdf [Accessed 19 Dec. 2017].

Baden-Fuller, C., & Haefliger, S. (2013). Business models and technological innovation. Long range planning, 46(6), 419-426. [org/10.1016/j.lrp.2013.08.023]

Communications.gov.au. (2017). Department of Communications and the Arts. [online] Available at: https://www.communications.gov.au/ [Accessed 19 Dec. 2017].

Hayes, J. (2014). The theory and practice of change management. Palgrave Macmillan.

Jacobs, G., van Witteloostuijn, A., & Christe-Zeyse, J. (2013). A theoretical framework of organizational change. Journal of Organizational Change Management, 26(5), 772-792. [10.1108/JOCM-09-2012-0137]

Langley, A., Smallman, C., Tsoukas, H., & Van de Ven, A. H. (2013). Process studies of change in organization and management: Unveiling temporality, activity, and flow. Academy of Management Journal, 56(1), 1-13. [org/10.5465/amj.2013.4001]

MacKay, R. B., & Chia, R. (2013). Choice, chance, and unintended consequences in strategic change: a process understanding of the rise and fall of NorthCo Automotive. Academy of Management Journal, 56(1), 208-230. [org/10.5465/amj.2010.0734]

Mitchell, G. (2013). Selecting the best theory to implement planned change: Improving the workplace requires staff to be involved and innovations to be maintained. Gary Mitchell discusses the theories that can help achieve this. Nursing Management, 20(1), 32-37. [10.7748/nm2013.04.20.1.32.e1013]

Muzio, D., Brock, D. M., & Suddaby, R. (2013). Professions and institutional change: Towards an institutionalist sociology of the professions. Journal of Management Studies, 50(5), 699-721. [10.1111/joms.12030]

Nbnco.com.au. (2017). nbn and Telstra sign deal to bring the nbn™ network to millions of homes | nbn - Australia's new broadband access network. [online] Available at: https://www.nbnco.com.au/corporate-information/media-centre/media-releases/nbn-and-Telstra-sign-deal-to-bring-the-nbn-network-to-millions-of-homes.html [Accessed 19 Dec. 2017].

News.com.au. (2017). Telstra customers hit with home internet outages. News.com.au. Retrieved 21 December 2017, from https://www.news.com.au/technology/consumer-issues/telstra-customers-in-sydney-and-surrounding-areas-complain-of-home-internet-outages/news-story/4c865e1f0c3085eab12fd68938715a33

Sutherland, O., Fine, M., & Ashbourne, L. (2013). Core competencies in social constructionist supervision?. Journal of marital and family therapy, 39(3), 373-387. [10.1111/j.1752-0606.2012.00318.x]

Taghipour, A. (2014). Adopting constructivist versus objectivist grounded theory in health care research: A review of the evidence. Journal of Midwifery and Reproductive Health, 2(2), 100-104. [10.22038/JMRH.2014.2434]

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Theaustralian.com.au. (2017). ACCC concern at telco’s NBN win. Theaustralian.com.au. Retrieved 21 December 2017, from https://www.theaustralian.com.au/business/technology/telstra-in-new-nbn-contract-win/news-story/51a54d3d65c86d97b65f2a0d9066d97c

Vogel, R., & Güttel, W. H. (2013). The dynamic capability view in strategic management: A bibliometric review. International Journal of Management Reviews, 15(4), 426-446. [10.1111/ijmr.12000]

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