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4.8 Organizational aspects

4.8.1 Types of organizational change

With the research questions presented for this research, organizational aspects concerning how to perform the research and how to assess and evaluate the results are inherently present. To assess whether a new method or theoretical construct regarding design is valid it must be applied in practice. Since an establishment of experimental laboratory-like environments to test the new method or construct is difficult to achieve, it is most often tried out in a real operative organizational environment. This is also beneficial from the point of view that an isolated laboratory-like environment may raise question as to how representative it is as compared to an operative environment. However, testing a new method or construct in a real operative organizational environment implies an intervention (a change) to that organization. Depending on the method or construct we intend to test and on the intervention approach used, this change will bring a range of different implications. On a high level, the framework presented by Porras & Robertson (1992) can be used to categorize the type of change the organizational system will be subjected to. Porras & Robertson (1992) outline four types of organizational change based on the category of change (planned or unplanned) and its order (first or second).

Planned change originates with a decision made by the organization itself with the deliberate purpose of improving its functioning. It is also common to engage an outside resource to help in the processes of making these improvements. Planned change is typically initiated to respond to new external demands imposed upon the organization. Planned change will often affect many unforeseen segments of the organization. Unplanned change is change that originates outside of the organizational system and to which the organization must respond. This adaptive response is often focused on the alteration of relatively clearly defined and narrow segments of the organization. It is spontaneous, evolutionary, fortuitous, or accidental.

Figure 49: Types of organizational change (Porras & Robertson, 1992).

First-order change, linear and continuous in nature, involves alterations in system characteristics without any shift in either fundamental assumptions about key organizational cause-and-effect relationships or in the basic paradigm used by the system to guide its functioning. Second-order change is a multi-dimensional, multi-level, qualitative, discontinuous, radical organizational change involving a paradigmatic shift. The complexity of the factors involved in an organizational setting (Porras & Robertson, 1992) can be illustrated as in Figure 50.

4.8.2 Factors influencing an organizational setting

The main research results presented in this thesis are based on the concept of configurable components (see section 5.4). This concept of configurable components was implemented in a commercially available product data management (PDM) system. The concept and system support were then introduced in the operational development of a new car program as the core product description and release system. All the cars in the program are developed as derivate products based on a common platform. Using the terminology for change interventions presented above, the introduction of a new core product description and release system is a planned second-order change. Such a change intervention is not limited to a certain group of people or a certain set of tasks, but rather has different kinds of impacts on most aspects of a company that relate to the product development process. The prescription (the concept of configurable components) is thus introduced to the organizational setting as one piece of a larger change intervention (the introduction of a new core product description and release system). The implications of this are that a second-order planned change will influence and be influenced by a whole range of factors and aspects governing the organizational behavior. As a consequence it will be difficult to control all the factors necessary for a successful implementation of the new concept. Some important factors can be controlled while others will be out of the sphere of control and will thus in some cases lead to a direction that is less favorable for a successful implementation of the new concept. Another effect is that it is hard to attribute a certain effect to the specific concept introduced. The observed effect could just as well be driven by a number of other factors that were triggered in the course of the larger change process.

Figure 50: Factors constituting an organizational work setting
(Porras & Robertson, 1992).

4.8.3 Different kinds of knowledge

Four kinds of knowledge (Heron, 1981 and Reason, 1994) can be recognized that can be illustrative to reflect upon in the assessment of a change intervention like the one described above. These four kinds of knowledge are (a) experiential knowledge that is gained through the operational activities performed in the daily work, (b) practical knowledge that concerns "how to" do something that is, knowledge demonstrated through a skill or a competence, (c) propositional knowledge, that is knowledge "about" something and expressed in statements and theories, and (4) presentational knowledge as the process by which we first order our tacit experiential knowledge into patterns, and that is expressed in for instance images, dreams, stories, and creative imagination. The development of presentational knowledge is an important (and often neglected) bridge between experiential and propositional knowledge.

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