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Managing Changes

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Managing Changes

It is well known that managed change within an organisation can result in unpredictable

outcomes. In this paper a sensemaking framework is developed to demonstrate how both

intended and unintended outcomes can result from the way middle managers e who are

usually the recipients of a change strategy devised at the top e make sense of the senior

management initiatives. This framework highlights the significant impact of change recipients

on the outcomes achieved and suggests we need to reconsider both what we

mean by ‘‘managing'' change, and the way senior managers lead change. A case study that

looks at a privatised utility undergoing strategic change from a middle manager perspective

illustrates how the framework can account for the phenomenon of unintended

outcomes. As the implementation largely follows what could be described as a textbook,

top-down approach to change, it illustrates the problems many organisations face when

implementing such change programmes. The paper also draws out the implications for the

practice of change management.

 2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Introduction

Planned programmes of change can often lead to unanticipated outcomes and unintended consequences.

1 In fact, the frequent failure of organisational change programmes to

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